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1 Ch. 3: Becoming an Ethical Researcher (pp. 61-83)

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Presentation on theme: "1 Ch. 3: Becoming an Ethical Researcher (pp. 61-83)"— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Ch. 3: Becoming an Ethical Researcher (pp )

2 2 THE ETHICAL IMPERATIVE Gaining knowledge and finding a clear answer to a research question Protecting research participants and upholding broader human rights Ethical Research Must Balance Two Priorities

3 3 Why would a researcher act in an ethically irresponsible way? Lack of awareness Pressure to take ethical shortcuts, e.g., Concern for career advancement (in “publish or perish” context) Research ambition, will to advance science Desire for prestige And the odds of being caught are low…

4 4 Scientific misconduct Scientific misconduct: violating basic and generally accepted standards of honest scientific research, e.g., Research fraud Plagiarism

5 5 Research fraud and plagiarism Research fraud: to invent, falsify or distort study data or to lie about how a study was conducted. Plagiarism: using another person’s words or ideas without giving proper credit and instead passing them off as your own.

6 6 Typology of Legal & Ethical Actions in Research (Fig. 3.2) LegalYES Yes Moral and Legal No Illegal but Moral NO Legal but Immoral Immoral and Illegal Ethical

7 7 ETHICAL ISSUES INVOLVING RESEARCH PARTICIPANTS There are many grey areas in which researchers must balance competing values, but there are some clear prohibitions: Never cause unnecessary harm Never proceed without voluntary consent Never cause unnecessary humiliation Never release personally identifying, harmful information

8 8 The Origin of Ethical Principles for Research with Humans “Medical experiments” in Nazi Germany & Japan in the 1940s Tuskegee syphilis study by the US Public Health Service US military studies of radioactive substances, hallucinogenic drugs, etc. Jewish Chronic Disease Hospital cancer studies in 1960s Willowbrook School case, injecting children with developmental disabilities with hepatitis virus

9 9 Protect Research Participants from Harm Social research can cause harm in several ways: Physical harm Psychological harm Legal harm

10 10 Participation Must Be Voluntary and Informed principle of voluntary consent: never force anyone to participate in a research study, participants should explicitly and voluntarily agree to participate. informed consent: an agreement in which participants state they are willing to be in a study and know what the research procedure will involve.

11 11 Obtaining Informed Consent Informed consent statements contain the following: 1) Brief description of research purpose, procedure and duration 2) Statement of risks or discomfort associated with participation 3) Guarantee of anonymity and confidentiality of data records 4) Identification of researcher and contact info 5) Statement that participation is voluntary and participant can withdraw at any time 6) Statement of alternative procedures that may be used 7) Statement of benefits or compensation 8) Offer to provide summary of findings after completion of study

12 12 Limits to Using Deception in Research Deception is acceptable only within strict limits, if you do the following: Show that it has a clear specific methodological purpose Use it only to the minimal degree necessary Obtain informed consent and do not misrepresent any risks Always debrief (i.e., explain the actual conditions to participants afterward)

13 13 Avoid Coercion Coercion can be physical, social, legal, professional, financial, or other pressure applied to get a person to agree to participate

14 14 Privacy, Anonymity and Confidentiality Research must protect privacy of participants, only violating privacy to the minimal degree necessary and only for legitimate research purposes Additionally, information must be protected from public disclosure to ensure: Anonymity Confidentiality

15 15 Anonymity and Confidentiality anonymity: not connecting a participant’s name or identifying details to information collected about him or her Confidentiality: holding information in confidence or not making it known to the public

16 16 Anonymity and Confidentiality (cont’d) Anonymity with confidentiality: conduct survey with 100 people but do not know participants’ names and only release data in aggregate Anonymity without confidentiality: conduct field research study and learn a lot about person X but never learn person’s name; report all details about the person publicly but alter details to make it impossible to discover person’s name Confidentiality without anonymity: conduct survey of 100 people and have each person’s name listed on his/her questionnaire but only publicly release data in aggregate Neither anonymity not confidentiality (unethical): conduct survey of 100 people and have each person’s name on questionnaire; publicly release a person’s answers with the name or with enough details to allow easy discovery of person’s name

17 17 Anonymity and Confidentiality (cont’d) Exceptions to privacy protection: Clear, immediate danger to a person’s safety, e.g., plans to suicide or to injure or kill another person

18 18 Extra Protections for Special Populations Some research participants are unable to give true voluntary informed consent, e.g., students, prison inmates, employees, military personnel, the homeless, welfare recipients, children, or the developmentally disabled - special populations special populations: people lacking the cognitive competency or full freedom to give true informed consent

19 19 Extra Protections for Special Populations (cont’d) If researchers wish to have “incompetent” people participate, they must meet two minimal conditions: 1) Person’s legal guardian/parent grants informed consent permission 2) All standard ethical rules to protect participants from harm are closely followed

20 20 Formal Protections for Research Participants institutional review board (IRB): a committee of researchers and community members that oversees, monitors, and reviews the impact of research procedures on human participants code of ethics: a written, formal set of professional standards that provides guidance when ethical questions arise in practice


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