Ethics in sport, exercise and physical activity scholarship

Ethical principles are clearly very important in sport, exercise and PA research and practice. Here are some possible ways of addressing a variety of difficult ethical issues:

REFLECTION: Academics should be committed to considering their ethical positions with regard to the funding they receive.

DECLARATIONS: Academics should be committed to making explicit their ethical positions with regard to the funding they receive.

DISCLOSURE OF FINANCIAL GAIN: Academics should be committed to disclosing fees received from private funders for their research, even in cases where this is not a requirement to do so through contractual arrangements.

HUMAN RIGHTS: Academics should be extremely wary of engaging with funders from states / governments and NGO’s which are criticised by human rights organisations. If academics do become involved with such organisations, they should articulate their reasons for their involvement explicitly.

DUE DILIGENCE: Academics should critically investigate the background of the commercial partners they engage with.

IMPLICATIONS: Academics should reflect on the possible use of research data, particularly when it might be used in the manipulation of an organisation’s public image.

Academics should reflect on the motives of research funders and the wider implications of potential involvement with corporate partners, who promote goods, services and ideas to vulnerable populations.

SCEPTICISM: As producers of knowledge, sport and PA academics are in a powerful, privileged position. They should automatically treat funders with scepticism.

EDUCATION: Academics involved in sport, exercise and physical activity curriculums should give attention to “ethics” in their courses. They should emphasise ethics throughout the qualification and find suitably qualified people to teach this.

PROMOTION: Through their involvement with academic journals, professional organisations and conferences academics should promote discussion themes of “ethics”, “conflicts of interests” and “vested interests”. Academic journals, professional organisations and conferences should promote these discussions too.

Note: I appreciate the helpful contribution of my peers in forming these proposals.

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