Extract from the Ethical Framework

84. We value research and systematic inquiry by practitioners as enhancing our professional knowledge and providing an evidence-base for practice in ways that benefit our clients.

85. We will usually support and provide opportunities for research if it is compatible with the services we provide.

86. When undertaking research we will be rigorously attentive to the quality and integrity of the research process, the knowledge claims arising from the research and how the results are disseminated.

87. All research that we undertake will be guided by the BACP Ethical Guidelines for Research in the Counselling Professions.

88. All participants in research will do so on the basis of explicit informed consent.

89. All research will be reviewed in advance to ensure that the rights and interests of participants have been considered independently of the researcher.

90. The research methods used will comply with standards of good practice in any services being delivered and will not adversely affect clients. 


Why is so much emphasis placed on informed consent in research ethics?

There are many reasons, including:

  • preventing people from being exploited or abused - there are many examples of human suffering caused by taking part in research which could have been avoided if participants had been sufficiently informed in advance about the purpose of the research and what was involved, and if they'd been given a free choice about whether to take part.
  • demonstrating respect - by actively asking people whether they want to participate on the basis of knowing what will be involved, particularly any risks of harm or benefits to them. Some academics suggest the discussion about consent should continue throughout the research.
  • ensuring that participants are willing to have knowledge gained from their participation in the research shared with others. This is a significant issue in counselling-related research because therapeutic consultations are usually private and confidential. Anonymisation may protect a participant from being identified by strangers but is less effective with people who know them.

What does research integrity mean and what do I need to consider on order to ensure the integrity of my research?

Research integrity relates to the quality of the research process and outcomes, and ensuring that it is undertaken to high ethical standards. It builds confidence in research as a way of increasing our knowledge and understanding, and in the application of research findings to solve problems or improve lives. Poor practice, falsifying data or results, or behaving unethically as a researcher undermines the integrity of a study and may also be professional misconduct or a criminal or civil offence.

Key issues you should consider to protect the integrity of your research include:

  • is the research likely to add to existing knowledge?
  • is the research well designed to be able to answer the questions or address the issues being researched?
  • have you considered any risks and ethical issues involved (for the researcher, participants and those using the knowledge gained). How will these issues be addressed?
  • have you got the skills and resources to undertake the research?
  • how will you ensure that the research is implemented with sufficient care and skill to satisfy academic standards?
  • how will you protect any confidential information and participant privacy?
  • how will you ensure results are accurate, supported by the research undertaken and communicated appropriately?
  • how will you acknowledge the involvement of participants and the use of any publications, other sources of information or contributions to the research?

For further guidance on research integrity see the UK Research Integrity Office

Good Practice in Action resources

Research overviews

How to do a literature search GPiA 015

Related resources

Ethical guidelines for research in the counselling professions