A call for structured ethics appendices in social science papers

Edward Asiedu, Dean Karlan*, Monica Lambon-Quayefio, Christopher Udry

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Ethics in social science experimentation and data collection are often discussed but rarely articulated in writing as part of research outputs. Although papers typically reference human subjects research approvals from relevant institutional review boards, most recognize that such boards do not carry out comprehensive ethical assessments. We propose a structured ethics appendix to provide details on the following: policy equipoise, role of the researcher, potential harms to participants and nonparticipants, conflicts of interest, intellectual freedom, feedback to participants, and foreseeable misuse of research results. We discuss each of these and some of the norms and challenging situations of each. We believe that discussing such issues explicitly in appendices of papers, even if briefly, will serve two purposes: more complete communication of ethics can improve discussions of papers and can clarify and improve the norms themselves.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2024570118
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number29
StatePublished - Jul 20 2021


  • Ethics
  • Methodology
  • Primary data collection
  • Randomized controlled trials
  • Surveys

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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