Research at the University of Pittsburgh enriches the education of Pitt students, fuels the region’s economy, creates knowledge and impacts society. The Research, Ethics and Society Initiative (RESI) was launched to help ensure that Pitt’s scholars and researchers pursue their work with awareness of its implications for society, the world and future generations.
Consideration of the ethics and implications of research is especially critical because people in many communities have reason to mistrust science—and research in general—because research is not immune to the racism that infects society.
Technology development, science and other research have participated in and reinforced structural racism. Biases persist in the conduct of research. Research ethics requires eliminating biases related to sex, gender, culture, disability, and racism that continue to influence who joins in research, as well as which questions are studied, and how.
Further, whether and how much people benefit from development of technology and advances in science and other areas of knowledge depend in part on how they are positioned in society vis-à-vis economic status, educational background, and social identities. Increasing awareness of how research has different implications for differently situated people and communities is one of the goals of the RESI.
RESI seeks to create a campus climate that:
- fosters awareness of the ethical, legal and social implications of the wide range of research conducted at Pitt;
- facilitates interdisciplinary discussion of both “should” and “how” questions regarding research;
- integrates consideration of the ethics and social implications of research into curricula and research programs; and
- encourages researchers to communicate—with a range of publics and the media—about their work and its significance.
With the RESI, Pitt joins peer institutions in providing research ethics consultation services to support Pitt research. In creating the Research Ethics Advisory Board to consider issues of research ethics, policy, and social impact at a broad institutional level, Pitt Research seeks to ensure that in advancing the frontiers of knowledge, Pitt makes a positive impact on the world.
Research of all types—from theoretical to the most immediately practical or applied—can present ethical challenges. All research has implications for society. Whether you...
- collect data, crunch numbers or recruit people
- invent machines or employ machine learning
- design sets or use set theory
- study literary texts, educational outcomes, voting patterns, or voles
... the RESI has resources to support your work.
How can I benefit?
- Consult about ethical challenges in designing and conducting your research
- Get help identifying potential problems before they arise
- Find resources to integrate discussion of ethics into your classes
- Learn how to communicate about your research with audiences outside your field
How can I contribute?
- Contribute to the conversation: raise questions about the ethics and implications of your research with colleagues, collaborators and students
- Submit relevant events for the RESI calendar
- Suggest resources for the RESI resources pages
- Volunteer—or suggest colleagues with research ethics expertise—to serve on the Research Ethics Consultation Service
- Integrate discussion of ethical issues and social implications into your courses
- Identify issues that warrant consideration before they become problems for you, your colleagues and students, Pitt or society—and suggest them as topics for consideration by the Research Ethics Advisory Board
- Share your research with the University’s Media Relations, or write a piece explaining your research and its significance for the popular press
- Contact RESI@pitt.edu to contribute