Ethics are the moral rules that govern our behavior. This behavior applies widely and involves other people, cultures, religions, places and even professional colleagues.
There are many examples of professionals who have failed to adhere to even the most basic ethical behaviors. This has led to tragic results. The response has been the development of strict guidelines that spell out appropriate behavior. All researchers (broadly defined) must abide by these standards.
Formal training and institutional approval are key elements in the system of ethical conduct.
There are strict regulations for Americans who do research with human subjects. This covers not only researchers (in a traditional sense), but may also be a requirement in educational contexts. It is essential that individuals who intend to do any research be properly trained and that their research proposals be subjected to rigorous review and approval by the appropriate Institutional Review Board (IRB).
There are a number of on-line resources for Human Subjects training.
Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI)
Professional Codes of Ethics
International Society of Ethnobiology Code of Ethics
This ISE has developed a Code of Ethics and and ethics toolkit. Their work is based on international laws.
American Anthropological Association Code of Ethics
This society has briefing papers, links to many other ethics codes and resources, including how to work with IRBs to obtain permission to do research involving human subjects.
Applied Ethics Resources
This website has a huge collection of codes and ethics resources.
Center for Environmental Philosophy
This group provides a collection of links on environmental ethics.
International Codes, Declarations and Statements
There are a number of basic documents which form standards of behavior, particularly as they relate to indigenous communities.
Convention on Biological Diversity