FREE is a research project carrying out a series of quantitative and qualitative surveys that include a large number of respondents willing to share personal data, opinions and attitudes. The FREE consortium is aware of the need for a detailed appreciation of ethical concerns that may be raised by the project’s different methodological approaches, especially with regard to data collection and storage. It is committed to respecting the confidentiality of this data and has, accordingly, set up appropriate procedures and protocols.
The research undertaken within the FREE project does not involve potentially vulnerable groups and people that are unable to consent. It is unlikely to produce significant psychological stress, anxiety or humiliation, and it does not raise issues of safety. Finally, the research carried out by FREE only targets respondents or participants who are fully able to give informed consent prior to their participation.
FREE’s research does, however, touch on a number of sensitive topics such as mutual perception patterns between social groups. These are likely to include references to collective stereotypes and prejudice. FREE’s research does also involve the production and use of audio-visual data, which in case of wrongful use may cause harm to the participants.
Code of Conduct
Given this assessment and the consortium’s awareness of the complexity of the integrated and interdisciplinary research designed, each of FREE’s partners is committed to respecting the project’s Code of Conduct. Among other provisions, the Code includes the following:
- personal information will be encoded and anonymised at the earliest stage of enquiry;
- respondents will be allowed to withdraw or delete – at any point during the study – data that they initially provided;
- data is stored on a dedicated, secure website hosted by the Middle East Technical University (METU) in Ankara (leader of the ‘Public Sphere’ research strand);
- all different survey methods will respect an appropriate procedure of ‘informed consent’, providing all relevant information to potential respondents prior to their participation;
- informed consent forms in all languages of the countries covered by the surveys will be permanently available on this website under ‘Documents’;
- a dedicated email address for possible grievances or complaints will figure in all documents linked to the informed consent procedure.
Ethical Monitoring Board
The respect of the Code of Conduct is supervised by an Ethical Monitoring Board, whose tasks are:
- to advise on and approve the research methods, including unexpected changes or opportunities that may come up during the research;
- to review the ethical reports submitted after each wave of field research by each consortium member concerned;
- to take appropriate ad-hoc decisions with regard to minimising unforeseen harm that may have occurred during the research (such as wrongful diffusion of audio-visual data).