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International Purchasing and Supply

Education and Research Association

Code of ethical research conduct


The association believes that researchers should conduct themselves with honesty and integrity and with regard to the welfare of humans, fellow researchers and the natural environment. The over-arching aim of research in the purchasing and supply field should be to improve the lives of humans through improvements in business practice based upon an increased understanding of business phenomena and techniques. The process of research should thus be regarded as a professional, ethically-based activity, subject to certain principles defining and delineating acceptable conduct. Those principles are summarised in this document.

We are aware that many educational and research institutions possess their own codes of ethical conduct, and this document is intended to supplement rather than replace any existing in-house guidelines.

Methods and methodology


IPSERA members should:

  1. choose research strategies, designs, data collection methods and data analysis techniques solely on the basis of their ability to produce valid and reliable results in the research environment in which they are working;
  2. prevent their personal preferences, prejudices and biases, or those of their data providers, clients or funding sources, from colouring or influencing their empirical, findings, or the interpretation of those findings;  
  3. withdraw from any research processes in which the client, source of funding or employer’s interests and wishes conflict with and/or prevent the uncovering and description of the empirical truth;
  4. remain aware at all times of the difficulties of unequivocally determining causal relationships in empirical research into business phenomena containing elements of human opinions, influence or control.

Data sources/research subjects


IPSERA members should:

  1. insist upon honesty in all aspects of funding application, bid submission, research design, data collection, analysis and results dissemination;
  2. be aware of the needs and rights of human research subjects. The conduct and output of research should never directly cause, or indirectly facilitate, harm to human subjects;
  3. pay special attention to the needs and rights of vulnerable human subjects such as children, the elderly and the mentally impaired, or individuals with low status positions within commercial organisations, who may be unaware of, or unable to effectively protect, their own rights;
  4. be aware of the limited ability of smaller companies to defend their interests when in conflict with larger trading partners;
  5. respect research subjects’ requests and requirements with respect to personal anonymity or the confidentiality of both primary and secondary data, unless such requests conflict with the law of the land;
  6. respect subjects’ privacy needs, and avoid excessive impositions on their time;
  7. avoid exposing clients to loss of income, revenue or competitive advantage;
  8. clearly explain to subjects, before investigations commence, the researcher’s intentions for the likely future uses of research outputs;
  9. seek approval from the original research subjects for any new output application(s) whenever circumstances change and new applications for the outputs of research emerge after completion of the data collection process;
  10. obtain research subject approval prior to the start of peer review processes whenever research leads to, or is likely to lead to, the publication of results in the public domain;
  11. never use deceit or deliberate untruths with research subjects in order to circumvent or modify their wishes, preferences or rights;
  12. seek ethical reviews of the proposed procedure in advance, and on completion, from independent senior peers, whenever some degree of deception, that does not threaten research subjects’ individual rights, is unavoidable in order to obtain valuable information;
  13. declare in their published output any conflicts encountered; be they with personal financial interests, or the interests of friends, colleagues, clients or research subjects;
  14. ensure that the conduct of research fulfils any relevant legal requirements in the country(ies) where data is collected or results are published.

Other researchers

 IPSERA members should:

  1. always acknowledge the contributions and intellectual property of others;
  2. expose and report to their employing organisation, dishonest or unprofessional research practices in the purchasing and supply field;
  3. be prepared to undertake tasks that serve the wider interests of the field such as academic editing and reviewing, or supporting the activities of relevant professional bodies.

Wider society

IPSERA members should:

  1. support and encourage research whose conduct or outputs may lead to improvements in human welfare and the natural environment;
  2. avoid involvement in research whose conduct or output encourages, facilitates or directly involves the abuse or exploitation of any person or the natural environment;
  3. seek to disseminate as widely as possible to practitioners, academics and the wider society any improved understanding of processes, concepts, theories and techniques in the purchasing and supply field.    
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