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Ethical Issues in Research Research Methods and Data College of Advancing Studies Brendan Rapple.

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1 Ethical Issues in Research Research Methods and Data College of Advancing Studies Brendan Rapple


3 McGill University Study 1957-60 Ewan Cameron (McGill U. in Montreal) administered psychedelic drugs to 52 unsuspecting patients in order to carry out brainwashing experiments for the CIA. Experiments disclosed publicly for the first time in 1977 in the New York Times. Not until 1988 that the survivors received settlement.

4 Tuskegee Study “Beginning in the 1930s, 399 men signed up with the U.S. Public Health Service for free medical care. The service was conducting a study on the effects of syphilis on the human body. The men were never told they had syphilis. They were told they had "bad blood" and were denied access to treatment, even for years after penicillin came into use in 1947. By the time the study was exposed in 1972, 28 men had died of syphilis, 100 others were dead of related complications, at least 40 wives had been infected and 19 children had contracted the disease at birth."

5 Codes Nazis The need for regulation and codes of behavior emerged from revelations of the research atrocities committed by the Nazis. Nuremberg Code This 1947 code for biomedical research was the first to focus on the importance of informed consent. Helsinki Declaration This 1964 declaration provided guidance in such areas as the use of animals for research purposes.

6 The American Sociological Association (ASA) adopted a formal code of ethics in 1969. American Psychological Association (1982) The Ethical Principles in the Conduct of Human Research with Human Participants The National Research Act (1974) Passed by Congress for the purpose of protecting human subjects participating in experiments. Of course, while it’s essential to have codes, the responsibility for ethical research ultimately lies with the individual researcher.

7 Ethical Factors No Pressure Never any pressuring of participants. Safety Safety of participants essential. Credit Every researcher must receive precise, appropriate credit. Communicate One should try to make results known to participants. Ill Usage of Research One should be conscious of possible bad uses of research.

8 Informed Consent Tell participants who is conducting study Why was subject singled out for participation? e.g. random sample e.g. recently given birth to 1st child etc. What is the time commitment? e.g. 45 minutes to complete the survey Any benefits for the participant to be expected? Realistically, there are often few direct benefits. Any potential risks, and how have these been managed? Information like the following should be participated to participants: “Some people may experience negative emotions when discussing parental alcoholism. If you would like to discuss these with someone, please feel free to call the study director at the number below.”


10 Informed Consent Explain the study and offer to answer questions Participation is always voluntary. Provide participants with copy of informed consent form (if relevant). Confidentiality (Anonymity, on the other hand, means that no one, including the researcher, will know the subject’s identity).

11 Sometimes Consent is not Possible Fake an assault in the street to gauge reaction of bystanders – e.g. who will intervene and who will do nothing. Element of surprise is essential. Problem with the preceding: –witnessing such an attack may be very disturbing to some. –Those who do not intervene may be upset and suffer feelings of low worth. –Those who do intervene may be injured. Debriefing is mandatory.

12 Informed Consent –Special Populations and Coercion Difficult for some to give true voluntary informed consent They might lack necessary competency --children --mentally retarded

13 Informed Consent Others May be Indirectly Coerced—This is WRONG Students Prison Inmates Employees Military Personnel The Homeless Welfare Recipients

14 Institutional Review Board (IRB) Most Colleges/universities have IRBs BC has one: BC Institutional Review Board

15 Questions Asked by IRBs About the Investigator  Who is the primary investigator, and who is supervising the study? About Research Participants  What are general characteristics of participants (e.g. age, sex etc.)?  Any special characteristics of participants (e.g. children, alcoholics, mentally retarded etc.)?  Any other institutions/individuals cooperating/cosponsoring the study?  What is general state of health (mental and physical) of the participants?  How will subjects be selected for, or excluded from, participation in this study?

16 Questions Asked by IRBs Procedure: –What will the subjects be asked to do, or what behaviors will be observed by the researchers? –Will deception be used? If yes, why is it necessary? –What is nature of the deception, and when will the debriefing take place? Material: –E.g., if electrical or mechanical equipment will be used, how has it been checked for safety?

17 Questions Asked by IRBs Risks –Any immediate risks to the subjects, including possibly causing them embarrassment, inconvenience, or discomfort? –Are there any long-range risks to the subjects? –If there are risks, what is the necessity for them, and how will subjects be compensated for facing such risks?

18 IRBs are very Concerned about Possible Psychological Harm E.g.: a project involving interviewing of women who’ve been raped. Obviously consent must be obtained. They’re free to withdraw at any time. Perhaps have psychological counseling available in case of distress.

19 Other Ethical Issues One should not cheat, falsify data etc. One should not plagiarize.

20 Plagiarism Plagiarism is taking another’s work and passing it off as your own. In a broad sense we are all guilty of plagiarism many times each day. We often take ideas from others and don’t attribute them to their original source. More often than not we don’t even know the original source! When we talk about the decline and fall of the Roman Empire or say, “To be or not to be, that is the question” in normal conversation, we rarely attribute the words to Gibbon and Shakespeare respectively.

21 Plagiarism in Research is Usually Quite Different True plagiarism is, quite bluntly, stealing. Sometimes a person just copies text word for word from a book or article and pretends that he is the author. Or buys an already written paper on the web. These are quite deliberate aims to deceive.

22 Plagiarism Extends to More than Words One should always provide references for any –statistics –graphs –tables –numbers, etc. that one wishes to use in one's own paper. Thus, it isn’t just the words of another person’s ideas that one should reference.

23 Copy Direct Quotations Exactly Make sure that you write it precisely, word-for-word as in the original. Also essential that you enclose the quoted text in quotation marks. Failing to put someone else’s direct text in quotation marks and crediting the author, may lead to accusations of plagiarism.

24 Paraphrasing is often Preferable to Taking Direct Quotations It’s often preferable to take down the substance of an author’s idea in your own words, i.e. to paraphrase. The greater part of your paper should be in your own words with appropriate documentation of the ideas of others. Of course, some direct quotation is fine – but always with citation.

25 “Plagiarism” Sometimes Not Intentional Many instances of plagiarism stem from sloppy research rather than through a deliberate desire to cheat. Many students during the research process take bad notes, e.g. they write down someone else’s text verbatim but forget to include the quotation marks. Later when they are writing the actual paper and they refer to their notes, they fail to remember that the text is another author’s and not their own. A reader who recognizes the original text might think that the student has cheated. And this may lead to tough penalties. So, the golden rule is to take excellent notes, write your whole paper yourself and to document your sources as well and as honestly as possible.

26 “Common Knowledge” and Plagiarism It is not necessary to document every single statement. One need not give a reference for stating that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. This fact is common knowledge and belongs in the public domain. However, if you are referring to Historian X’s thesis that Kennedy was killed by a crime syndicate and not by Lee Harvey Oswald, proper citation to such a theory is requisite.

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