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Making Sense of the Social World 4th Edition Chapter 3: Ethics in Research.

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Presentation on theme: "Making Sense of the Social World 4th Edition Chapter 3: Ethics in Research."— Presentation transcript:

1 Making Sense of the Social World 4th Edition Chapter 3: Ethics in Research

2 Research on Human Subjects Is Guided by Three Ethical Principles  Respect for persons: Treating persons as autonomous agents and protecting those with diminished autonomy  Beneficence: Minimizing possible harms and maximizing benefits  Justice: Distributing benefits and risks of research fairly Chambliss/Schutt, Making Sense of the Social World 4 th edition © 2012 SAGE Publications

3  Federal regulations require that every institution that seeks federal funding for biomedical or behavioral research on human subjects have an institutional review board (IRB) that reviews research proposals. Chambliss/Schutt, Making Sense of the Social World 4 th edition © 2012 SAGE Publications

4 Usually researches must (1) receive IRB approval and (2) follow professional as well as institutional ethical guidelines. IRB needs to know (1) how the research will be conducted and (2) any possible risks and benefits to the people involved in the study. Chambliss/Schutt, Making Sense of the Social World 4 th edition © 2012 SAGE Publications

5 The American Sociological Association (ASA) Guidelines:  Research should cause no harm to subjects.  Participation in research should be voluntary, and therefore subjects must give their informed consent to participate in the research.  Researchers should fully disclose their identity.  Anonymity or confidentiality must be maintained for individual research participants unless it is voluntarily and explicitly waived.  Benefits from a research project should outweigh any foreseeable risks. Chambliss/Schutt, Making Sense of the Social World 4 th edition © 2012 SAGE Publications

6 How Should “No Harm to Subjects” Be Interpreted?  Does it mean that subjects should not be at all harmed psychologically as well as physically?  That they should feel no anxiety or distress whatsoever during the study or after their involvement ends?  Should the possibility of any harm, no matter how remote, deter research? Chambliss/Schutt, Making Sense of the Social World 4 th edition © 2012 SAGE Publications

7 The Requirement of Informed Consent Is More Difficult to Define Than It First Appears  Consent must be given by persons who are competent to consent. Whom might not be included in this group?  Consent must be voluntary. Does this include research on prisoners? How about research on students? Might there be an element of coercion?  Participants must be fully informed about the nature of the research. What if explaining the research affects how subjects behave or answer questions in the study? Can you conduct deceptive research?  Not all harm is foreseeable and therefore disclosable to participants. Chambliss/Schutt, Making Sense of the Social World 4 th edition © 2012 SAGE Publications

8 Maintaining Confidentiality and Anonymity Is Not Always Straightforward  Procedures such as locking records and creating special identifying codes must be used to minimize the risk of access by unauthorized persons.  Laws allow research records to be subpoenaed and typically require the reporting of child abuse.  The standard of confidentiality does not apply to observation in public places and information available in public records.  Social media and digital technologies blur the lines between public and private behavior.  Is behavior on websites such as Facebook and Twitter public or private? Chambliss/Schutt, Making Sense of the Social World 4 th edition © 2012 SAGE Publications

9 The evaluation of ethical issues in a research project should be based on a realistic assessment of the overall potential for harm and benefit to research subjects. Do the benefits outweigh the risks? Chambliss/Schutt, Making Sense of the Social World 4 th edition © 2012 SAGE Publications


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