Imagine that you and a group of friends are trying to decide what restaurant to dine at tonight. What factors do you take into consideration when making this choice? Do you look at the menu? Maybe you read some reviews? Or perhaps someone in the group has eaten there before and offers feedback? With each of these exchanges, you are gathering information that will inform your choice.
We use information every day to make decisions.
Data is "information, especially facts or numbers, collected to be examined and considered and used to help decision making" (Cambridge Dictionary).
In STEM, data is especially important, as research projects are grounded in collecting, analyzing, and writing about data collected. Because of data's central role, it is crucial that data is meticulously recorded, ethically analyzed, and transparently reported.
There are many ethical considerations that must be taken into account when collecting, processing, analyzing, or interpreting data. The considerations below offer a short list of ways to be vigilant throughout the data life cycle. Whether you are collecting your own data or reviewing another researcher's work, these are key areas to consider:
Data collection and preprocessing:
Data analysis and interpretation:
If you are consulting a work that does not appropriately address the considerations above, consider finding another resource for your project. If data is the foundation of the work, data should be grounded in an ethical research approach. To learn more about ethical data standards, consult the FAIR Principles.