Methods for Practising Ethics in Research and Innovation: A Literature Review, Critical Analysis and Recommendations

Wessel Reijers* (Corresponding Author), David Wright, Philip Brey, Karsten Weber, Rowena Rodrigues, Declan O’Sullivan, Bert Gordijn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)
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This paper provides a systematic literature review, analysis and discussion of methods that are proposed to practise ethics in research and innovation (R&I). Ethical considerations concerning the impacts of R&I are increasingly important, due to the quickening pace of technological innovation and the ubiquitous use of the outcomes of R&I processes in society. For this reason, several methods for practising ethics have been developed in different fields of R&I. The paper first of all presents a systematic search of academic sources that present and discuss such methods. Secondly, it provides a categorisation of these methods according to three main kinds: (1) ex ante methods, dealing with emerging technologies, (2) intra methods, dealing with technology design, and (3) ex post methods, dealing with ethical analysis of existing technologies. Thirdly, it discusses the methods by considering problems in the way they deal with the uncertainty of technological change, ethical technology design, the identification, analysis and resolving of ethical impacts of technologies and stakeholder participation. The results and discussion of our literature review are valuable for gaining an overview of the state of the art and serve as an outline of a future research agenda of methods for practising ethics in R&I.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1437-1481
Number of pages45
JournalScience and engineering ethics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2018


  • Ethical impact assessment
  • Ethics assessment
  • Ethics of technology
  • Practising ethics
  • Research and innovation


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