Research ethics and integrity governance arrangements grounded in principlism might be seen as operating to protect the interests of relatively vulnerable groups. Alternatively, they might be allowing ethical decision-making to be divorced from context, protecting powerful agencies from scrutiny by independent researchers by over-generalising understandings developed within bioethics. Drawing on the experiences of criminologists in engaging with national regulations and local review processes, we explore how the practices of ethics and integrity might shape research agendas and teaching practices within our discipline in the United Kingdom.