Research ethics beyond the IRB: Selection bias and the direction of innovation in applied economics

Jeffrey D. Michler, William A. Masters, Anna Josephson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Principles for ethical behavior in the context of research are codified into rules that may change over time to meet peoples’ needs in specific institutions, including universities and professional associations. This paper aims to spark discussion about a set of ethical choices beyond those addressed by an IRB or recent association policy statements. Our specific focus is topic selection and the role of researchers’ interests and incentives in determining the kinds of research that we do. Using the principle of induced innovation, we show how changing incentives can influence the direction of research effort and thereby affect the kinds of policies or technologies that are supported by available evidence. With this paper, we hope to generate discussion among applied economists about selection bias in research and how we can use insights from economics itself to guide topic selection. JEL CLASSIFICATION: A11; A14; B41; Q00.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1352-1365
Number of pages14
JournalApplied Economic Perspectives and Policy
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • induced innovation
  • research misconduct
  • research practice
  • role of economists

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Economics and Econometrics


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