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Research Ethics Ethical Considerations. What is ‘ethics’?  Webster’s collegiate dictionary defines ethics as: ‘the discipline dealing with what is good.

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Presentation on theme: "Research Ethics Ethical Considerations. What is ‘ethics’?  Webster’s collegiate dictionary defines ethics as: ‘the discipline dealing with what is good."— Presentation transcript:

1 Research Ethics Ethical Considerations

2 What is ‘ethics’?  Webster’s collegiate dictionary defines ethics as: ‘the discipline dealing with what is good and bad and with moral duty and obligation’  Practical ethics Deals with personal uncertainties and conflicts of opinion Deals with personal uncertainties and conflicts of opinion What choice should I take? What choice should I take? Is this action fair? Is this action fair?

3 What is ‘ethics’?  Theoretical ethics If this action is right, what does right really mean? If this action is right, what does right really mean?  Descriptive ethics Relate to moral beliefs Relate to moral beliefs

4 What is ‘ethics’?  Ethics insist upon the introduction of the individual human opinions and beliefs – therefore hard to define  ‘most of our moral responses seem to be more a matter of intuition and feeling than of reasoning and logical deduction – we are not always the rational creatures we would like to be’ (Gross, 1996)

5 Research Methods and Ethics  We need to consider ethical issues throughout time of research  To conduct research projects in line with ethical principles  To follow ethical guidelines

6 Questionable practices in social research Robson (1995) notes 10 questionable practices in social research: 1. Involving people without their knowledge or consent 2. Coercing them to participate 3. Withholding information about the true nature of the research 4. Otherwise deceiving the participant

7 Questionable practices in social research 5. Inducing participants to commit acts diminishing their self-esteem 6. Violating rights of self-determination (in studies seeking to promote individual change) 7. Exposing participant to physical or mental stress 8. Invading privacy

8 Questionable practices in social research 9. Withholding benefits from some participants (comparison groups) 10. Not treating participants fairly, or with respect

9 During data collection:  Ensure data collected accurately  Avoid exercising subjective selectivity in what is recorded  Consider confidentiality and anonymity  Subject to the requirement of legislation, ie. DPA, information obtained during an investigation is confidential (unless otherwise agreed in advance).

10 Data Collection ‘the ability to explore data or to seek explanations through qualitatively based methods means that there will be greater scope for ethical issues to arise in relation to this approach to research’ (Easterby-Smith et al, 1991) ‘embarrassment and even harm could result from reporting data that are clearly attributable to a particular individual’ (Cooper & Schindler, 1988; Robson, 1993)

11 Research Ethics  Ethical concerns emerge as you plan your research  In context of research ‘ethics’ refers to the appropriateness of your behaviour in relation to the rights of those who become the subject of our work, or are affected by it. Wells (1994) defines ethics in terms of a code of behaviour appropriate to academics and the conduct of research.

12 Research Ethics  Ethical issues need to be considered throughout the time of research  Remain sensitive to the impact of your work On those whom you approach On those whom you approach Those who provide access and cooperation Those who provide access and cooperation Those affected by your results Those affected by your results

13 Code of ethics  Following a code of ethics will provide you with a statement of principles and procedures for the conduct of your research  You may be required to submit your research proposal to a research ethics committee  You may need ethical approval to carry out your research

14 Meeting Ethical Requirements  Students undertaking research within UK’s National Health Service have to meet requirements established by their local NHS Trust’s ethics committee  Any kind of research will inevitably lead to a range of ethical issues  Ethical Approval from the Ethics Committee may be required before the start of the research

15 Ethical issues that affect research  Privacy of possible and actual participants  Voluntary nature of participation and the right to withdraw partially or completely from the process  Consent and possible deception of participants  Maintenance of confidentiality of data provided by individuals or identifiable participants and their anonymity  Reactions of participants to the way in which you seek to collect data  Effects on participants of the way in which you use, analyse and report data  Behaviour and objectivity of the researcher

16 PRIVACY  Need at all times to respect privacy Nettiquette  Developed to provide heading for ‘rules’ or guidelines about how to use the Internet for research  Contacting possible participants easier  Forms of covert observation impinging on rights of participants

17 SUMMARY  Access and ethics are critical aspects for the conduct of research  Using different types and levels of access need to be identified  Feasibility an important determinant of what you choose to research and how you undertake the research  Research ethics refer to appropriateness of your behaviour  Potential ethical issues should be recognised and considered from outset of research  Ethical concerns likely to occur at all stages of research  Ethical concerns associated with ‘power relationship’ between the researcher and those who you have access to  Use of Internet and to collect data may generate ethical concerns

18 Internet locations for codes of ethics    


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