Introduction to Ethics at UoRM

Guest Speaker:
Dr Valentina Sclafani (Chair, UoRM Research Ethics Committee)
Subject Area:
Date & Time:
Wed, 14. March 2018, 13:00 h - 14:00 h
N3.24, University of Reading Malaysia - EduCity@Iskandar​

Purpose of workshop/ who it is for/what’s involved:
Ethical considerations in research are critical for several reasons. First, ethical standards prevent against the fabrication or falsifying of data and therefore, promote the pursuit of knowledge and truth which is the primary goal of research. Ethical behaviour is also critical for collaborative work because it encourages an environment of trust, accountability, and mutual respect among researchers. This is especially important when considering issues related to data sharing, co-authorship, copyright guidelines, confidentiality, and many other issues.

Researchers must also adhere to ethical standards in order for the public to support and believe in the research. The public wants to be assured that researchers followed the appropriate guidelines for issues such as human rights, animal welfare, compliance with the law, conflicts of interest, safety, and health standards. The handling of these ethical issues greatly impact the integrity of the research project and can affect whether or not the project receives funding.

Because ethical considerations are so important in research, many professional associations and agencies have adopted codes and policies that outline ethical behaviour and guide researchers. These codes address issues such as honesty, objectivity, respect for intellectual property, social responsibility, confidentiality, non-discrimination and many others.

One of the most important ethical considerations in research is the use of human subjects. To address these considerations, most institutions and organizations have developed a Research Ethics Committee (REC). A REC is a panel of people who help to ensure the safety of human subjects in research and who assist in making sure that human rights are not violated. They review the research methodology to assure that ethical practices are being utilized. The use of a REC also helps to protect the institution and the researchers against potential legal implications from any behaviour that may be deemed unethical.

Photo Biography

Dr Valentina Sclafani is a Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Reading Malaysia, and the Chair of the UoRM Research Ethics Committee.

She obtained her BSc in Biology and MSc in Neurobiology and Ethology in Italy. In 2013, she got a PhD in Behavioural Biology at the University of Parma (Italy) running a project in collaboration with the NICHD-NIH (Bethesda, MD, USA). She also worked as a post-doctoral researcher at the University of California Davis (CA, USA), and as a Newton International Fellow at the University of Reading (UK).

During her academic career, she has been involved in several research projects aiming at longitudinally investigating the development of socio-cognitive functioning in non-human and human infants. In particular, she has explored the emergence and development of early social competences in infants (i.e., neonatal imitation, face recognition, facial expressions discrimination), and their relationship to later developmental outcomes.

Her most recent research work focuses on the evolution of early social communication in Primates. In particular, she is exploring from an evolutionary perspective the development and the structure of early communication system between mother and infant, and their effects on infant behaviour. Here in Malaysia, she would like to conduct a cross-cultural study to investigate how natural variation in infant social environment, such as variations in social structure and socialisation contexts, can influence parenting behaviours and their consequences for infant development. Likewise, she would like to start working collaboratively with several primatology experts in Southeast Asia to conduct comparative studies to investigate how different social organisations might affect infant social development, and detect possible homologies with humans as well as characteristics or processes unique to the human species.

  • Admission to this workshop is by invitation only.


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