Unethical research? Edward Jenner (1749-1823) –smallpox experiment Milgram experiments, Yale, 1963 –researching response to authority; electric shock experiments (Blass 2002) Stanford prison experiment, 1971 –researching psychology of imprisonment; prisoners and guards experiment (Stanford Prison Experiment website; Zimbardo et al. 2000, Zimbardo 2004) –BBC re-enactment (Wells 2002)
Approaches to research ethics Regulations-based –e.g. life sciences, medical/health Rights-based/situational –e.g. social sciences –guidelines given but open to context-dependent interpretation –self-regulation –trend towards greater formality (see e.g. ESRC Research Ethics Framework (2006)) –ethics committees review cases
Key principles Autonomy –people free to make informed decisions about participation Non-maleficence –research must not inflict harm Beneficence –research should benefit others Justice – people must be treated equally within research process Wiles et al. (2005)
Beneficence Doing good to others Complemented by principle of non- maleficence, i.e. not doing harm Aspects include –researcher qualified, resources adequate –risks assessed –risks proportionate to importance of research
Autonomy Participant –is given relevant information –is fully informed –understands risks/implications –is competent to give consent –can participate voluntarily
‘ Competence’ and ‘vulnerability’ ‘Vulnerable’ groups: children, young people, people with mental health problems, learning disabilities, etc. BUT Objections to exclusion of ‘vulnerable’ groups Onus on researcher to find ways to explain research successfully
Informed consent Usually sought before research BUT Argument that consent is ongoing process So seek consent whenever data is collected or used? –send transcripts of interviews for approval –show how data is being used in publications Always signed consent?
Coercion Direct: participation in response to threat of: –physical danger –withholding of a benefit Indirect: participants feel they will be disadvantaged if they don’t participate Researcher gives assurances: no penalty/disadvantage to non-participation
(Undue) Inducement Many codes of ethics discourage payment, except to cover expenses Payment seen as inducement to give consent BUT Opposing views –subject is free to decline –issue is exploitation of subjects not inducement
Anonymity Anonymity in publications Use pseudonyms Permission to use identity Data Protection Act (1998) Institution may require confidentiality BUT Participants may not want to be anonymised Participants may change their mind about anonymity
Further ethical obligations Codes of ethics – obligations of researcher to: –participants –society –funders and employers –colleagues Other unethical behaviour, examples: –plagiarism –falsifying data
Ethical issues of research online Public domain so ‘unobtrusive observation’? Consent not necessary? Gain consent by email or implied consent, e.g. by clicking button? Pseudonyms don’t necessarily protect anonymity Who holds ownership of words? Confidentiality of online interviews? Confidentiality of data storage? Roberts et al (2004)
Ethics and translation studies Codes of ethics for translators and interpreters (e.g. Chesterman’s (2001) ‘Hieronymic oath’) Other scholars consider ethical dimensions of activity (see special issue of The Translator 7(2)) BUT Little consideration of research ethics in TS
MA/PhD Approval required for research involving participants, esp. sensitive info, children etc. SLLC Ethical Declaration DocumentsEthical Declaration Documents Ethical committee decision
References (1) Blass, Thomas (2002) ‘The Man who Shocked the World’, Psychology Today, March/April, 68-74.The Man who Shocked the World Chesterman, Andrew (2001) ‘Proposal for a Hieronymic Oath’, The Translator 7(2): 139-154. Roberts, Lynne, Leigh Smith and Clare Pollock (2004) ‘Conducting Ethical Research Online: Respect for individuals, identities and the ownership of words’, in Buchanan, Elizabeth (ed.) Readings in Virtual Research Ethics, Hershey PA: Idea Publishing.Conducting Ethical Research Online: Respect for individuals, identities and the ownership of words’ Stanford Prison ExperimentStanford Prison Experiment website. Wells, Matt (2002) ‘BBC halts ‘prison experiment’’, The Guardian, 24 January 2002.BBC halts ‘prison experiment
References (2) Wiles, Rose, Sue Heath, Graham Crow and Vikki Charles (2005) Informed Consent in Social Research: A literature review, ESRC National Centre for Research Methods.Informed Consent in Social Research: A literature review Zimbardo, Philip G. (2004) ‘A Situationist Perspective on the Psychology of Evil: Understanding how good people are transformed into perpetrators’, in A. G. Miller (ed.) The Social Psychology of Good and Evil, New York: Guilford Press, pp. 21-50.A Situationist Perspective on the Psychology of Evil: Understanding how good people are transformed into perpetrators Zimbardo, Philip G., Christina Maslach and Craig Haney (2000) ‘Reflections on the Stanford Prison Experiment: Genesis, transformations, consequences’, in Thomas Blass (ed.) Obedience to Authority: Current perspectives on the Milgram paradigm, Mahwah, N.J.: Erlbaum, pp.193-237.Reflections on the Stanford Prison Experiment: Genesis, transformations, consequences Zimbardo, Philip G. (2007) The Lucifer Effect: Understanding how good people turn evil, New York and London: Random House.
Resources Social Research Association (2003) Ethical GuidelinesEthical Guidelines British Sociological Association (2002) Statement of Ethical PracticeStatement of Ethical Practice Informed Consent and the Research ProcessInformed Consent and the Research Process ESRC project website (Uni Southampton) ESRC (2006) Research Ethics FrameworkResearch Ethics Framework Committee on Publication Ethics Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) website
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