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Table 6 Detailing how each standard can be met at various stages of the research process

From: Standards of practice in empirical bioethics research: towards a consensus

Standard Identifying (if a project does not meet these standards, it is not the kind of project to which the rest of the standards apply) Planning (required for evaluation of a project plan for, e.g. funding) Carrying out Reporting (these standards should be met as far as possible, accepting space constraints in journals. Online supplementary material might be considered)
 1. Empirical bioethics research should address a normative issue that is oriented towards practice The aims of the project must make explicit the normative issue being addressed and the practical end to which the research is directed. The extent to which the research aims to address a normative issue oriented towards practice should be explicitly stated. N/A The extent to which the research aimed to address a normative issue oriented towards practice should be explicitly stated.
 2. Empirical Bioethics research should integrate empirical methods with ethical arguments in order to address this normative issue The research should not simply be an empirical project being carried out alongside an ethics project, but involves some kind of integration where each mutually informs the other. The method of integration ought to be considered at the planning stage. N/A Any integration should be clearly articulated so that it is intelligible to the reader.
 3. Empirical bioethics researchers ought to be explicit about how the research question(s) asked address the normative issue identified in the aims N/A It should be explicitly articulated in advance how the normative aims of the project can be met by answering the specified research questions. N/A It should be clearly articulated how the normative aims of the project were met and the research questions answered.
 4. The theoretical position on integration (i.e. the theoretical views on how the empirical and the normative are related) should be made clear and explicit N/A The research plan should clearly articulate the meta-ethical and epistemological positions that allow knowledge claims to be made on the basis of the planned research. N/A The report should clearly articulate the meta-ethical and epistemological positions that allowed knowledge claims to be made.
 5. The method of integration should be explained and justified, including details of what is integrated with what, how and by whom. N/A The research plan should include a clear account of how the integrated analysis will be undertaken, such that it can be understood by a person unfamiliar with the project. N/A The report should include a clear account of how the integrated analysis was undertaken, such that it can be understood by the reader.
 6. There should be transparency, consistency and rigour in the execution and reporting of the integrating analysis N/A N/A The project should be carried out according to the plan, as far as possible, with deviations recorded and justified. The report should be transparent in explication of the analytic processes.
 7. Empirical bioethics research ought to attend to the rigorous implementation of empirical methods, and import accepted standards of conduct from appropriate research paradigms N/A The plan ought to consider, provide an account of, and justify, how empirical methods will be appropriately used – appealing to disciplinary standards as appropriate. Empirical methods ought to be used according to appropriate standards of rigor. The report ought to provide an account of how empirical methods were rigorously implemented.
 8. Empirical bioethics research should, if and where necessary, develop and amend empirical methods to facilitate collection of the data required to meet the aims of the research; but deviation from accepted disciplinary standards and practices ought to be acknowledged and justified N/A The plan ought to consider, provide an account of, and justify, how empirical methods might be appropriately amended. Amendments to (or deviations from) standard approaches to collecting empirical data ought to be made when they are required. The report ought to provide an explanation and explicit justification of any amendments made to standard empirical methods.
 9. Empirical bioethics research should reflect on and justify the appropriateness and fit of the chosen empirical methods in relation to (a) the normative aims (b) the stated approach to integration N/A The research plan should consider and explain how the chosen empirical methods are compatible with the normative aims and the planned approach to integration. N/A The report should provide an account of the compatibility of the chosen empirical methods with the normative aims and the approach to integration taken.
 10. Empirical bioethics research should consider and reflect on the implicit ethical and epistemological assumptions of the chosen empirical method N/A The research plan should acknowledge the ethical and epistemological assumptions behind the project’s method(s), and consider how this will impact on the knowledge claims that can be made. N/A The report should acknowledge the ethical and epistemological assumptions behind the project’s empirical method(s), and consider the ways in which these might place limitations on the conclusions that have been drawn.
 11. In empirical bioethics research, there should be thorough delineation of the ethical issue(s), paying attention to, and locating them within, the relevant disciplinary literature N/A The research plan should clearly articulate the ethical issues that are being investigated, ensuring that due attention is paid to the range of literatures on the topic that may exist. A literature search ought to be conducted, which is sufficiently rigorous to capture all relevant material (within reason). The report should clearly and explicitly articulate how the project has engaged with the ethical issues that drove it, situating its own treatment of them within the wider literature from relevant disciplines.
 12. In empirical bioethics research, there should be explicit and robust normative analysis. ‘Normative analysis’ includes attempts to justify position X to person Y with the use of ethical reasoning, providing suggestion for improvement to position X based on ethical reasoning, or attempts to break down and make explicit a complex normative issue in order to gain a better understanding of it N/A The research plan should articulate what kind of normative analysis will be undertaken and how it will be done. A normative analysis should be carried out. The report should contain a clear explication of the normative analysis, including its process and its conclusions.
 13. The empirical bioethics researcher, or the research team as a whole, should possess competence in ethical inquiry, empirical inquiry and methods of integration N/A The research plan should consider the competencies required to undertake the project and ensure that these competencies are available and accessible. The project should be carried out by researchers in possession of the required competencies. N/A
 14. The empirical bioethics researcher(s) should have at least a basic knowledge of bioethics, and an understanding of whatever aspects of other disciplines or fields that are engaged with N/A Knowledge and understanding of bioethics and other relevant disciplines should be demonstrated in the research plan. The researcher or research team should possess sufficient knowledge and understanding of bioethics and other relevant disciplines to be capable of carrying out the project. N/A
 15. Provision should be made for ensuring that any team members can acquire or enhance competence in empirical bioethics research N/A The research plan should include training plan, as appropriate, to ensure that the researcher or research team has the appropriate competencies. N/A N/A