Ethical Questions to Ponder 1.Do codes of ethics offer clear answers on questions of research morality? 2.Can researchers conduct studies that will cause subjects to experience pain and suffering? What precautions must be taken in such studies? 3.What methods can be used to minimize moral objections to the use of deception in social psychological research? 4.Why do role-plays fail as alternatives to deception? 5.What are some of the unique ethical problems raised by research conducted in field settings? 6.Who sets the standards for ethics in research? Adapted from http://www.has.vcu.edu/psy/faculty/fors/ethics.htm#q
Normative Ethical Theory Person(s) Actions Consequences Adapted from Taylor, H. (2006) Ethical Analysis, The Johns Hopkins University and Holly Taylor.
Normative Ethical Theory Virtue theory Consequentialist theory Non-consequentialist theory Adapted from Taylor, H. (2006) Ethical Analysis, The Johns Hopkins University and Holly Taylor.
Virtue Theory (Aristotle Circa 350BC) Focus on person Cultivation of virtuous traits Adapted from Taylor, H. (2006) Ethical Analysis, The Johns Hopkins University and Holly Taylor.
Virtue Theory (Aristotle) “A just person—…with the virtue of fairness—not only has the disposition to act fairly, but when so acting has a morally appropriate desire to do so. (p. 214).” Source: Beauchamp, Tom L.(1991) Philosophical Ethics: Introduction to Moral Philosophy\ Adapted from Taylor, H. (2006) Ethical Analysis, The Johns Hopkins University and Holly Taylor.
Consequentialism (John Stuart Mill 1806-73) Focus on consequences of action(s) Action(s) are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the opposite of happiness Utilitarian Adapted from Taylor, H. (2006) Ethical Analysis, The Johns Hopkins University and Holly Taylor.
Consequentialism (John Stuart Mill) Maximizing principle Impersonal perspective Adapted from Taylor, H. (2006) Ethical Analysis, The Johns Hopkins University and Holly Taylor.
Non-Consequentialism (Immanuel Kant 1724-1804) Deontologic - ignores the outcome of an action and requires individuals to act according to duty Focus on action(s) taken Motive to act Adapted from Taylor, H. (2006) Ethical Analysis, The Johns Hopkins University and Holly Taylor.
Non-Consequentialism (Immanuel Kant) Categorical imperative – universal rules – lying is wrong because if it were universalised then words would lose meaning Respect for persons –Individuals should not be treated simply as means to an end Adapted from Taylor, H. (2006) Ethical Analysis, The Johns Hopkins University and Holly Taylor.
Practicalities Greenfield (1997) tells us that the Declaration of Helsinki is a good place to start. Whilst this focused on biomedical research it has lessons for us all.
Here are the main points: [My comments are in this style of parenthesis] It is unethical to conduct research which is badly planned or poorly executed....research...must conform to generally accepted scientific principles...based on adequately performed...experimentation and on a thorough knowledge of the scientific literature. Every...research project...should be preceded by careful assessment of predictable risks in comparison with foreseeable benefits...
Here are the main points: [My comments are in this style of parenthesis] In the publication of results [your write up constitutes this] of...research...preserve the accuracy of the results. Report of experimentation not in accordance with the principles...should not be accepted for publication. The research protocol should always contain a statement of the ethical considerations involved. Special caution must be exercised in the conduct of research which may affect the environment.
UoP Ethical Principles for Research Involving Human Participants 1.Informed Consent 2.Openness and Honesty 3.Right to Withdraw 4.Protection from Harm 5.Debriefing 6.Confidentiality 7.Ethical Principles of Professional Bodies
Informed Consent The researcher should, where possible, inform potential participants in advance of any features of the research that might reasonably be expected to influence their willingness to take part in the study. Where the research topic is sensitive, the ethical protocol should include verbatim instructions for the informed consent procedure and consent should be obtained in writing. Where children are concerned, informed consent may be obtained from teachers acting in loco parentis. However, where the topic of research is sensitive, written informed consent should be obtained from individual parents/those with parental responsibility.
Openness and Honesty So far as possible, researchers should be open and honest about the research, its purpose and application. Some types of research, for example in social psychology, appear to require deception in order to achieve their scientific purpose. Deception will be approved in experimental procedures only if the following conditions are met a.Deception is completely unavoidable if the purpose of the research is to be achieved. The research objective has strong scientific merit. Any potential harm arising from the proposed deception can be effectively neutralised or reversed by the proposed debriefing procedures (see section 5).
Failing to inform participants of the specific purpose of the study at the outset is not normally considered to be deception, provided that adequate informed consent and debriefing procedures are proposed. Covert observation should be resorted to only where it is impossible to use other methods to obtain essential data. Ideally, where informed consent has not been obtained prior to the research it should be obtained post hoc.
Right to Withdraw Where possible, participants should be informed at the outset of the study that they have the right to withdraw at any time without penalty. In the case of children, parents and those acting in loco parentis shall be informed of the right to withdraw the child from participation in the study.
Protection from Harm Researchers must endeavour to protect participants from physical and psychological harm at all times during the investigation. Note that where stressful or hazardous procedures are concerned, obtaining informed consent (1) whilst essential, does not absolve the researcher from responsibility for protecting the participant. In such cases the ethical protocol must specify the means by which the participant will be protected, e.g. by the availability of qualified medical assistance. Where physical or mental harm nevertheless does result from research procedure, investigators are obliged to take action to remedy the problems created.
Debriefing Researchers should where possible, provide an account of the purpose of the study as well as its procedures. If this is not possible at the outset, then ideally it should be provided on completion of the study.
Confidentiality Except with the consent of the participant, researchers are required to ensure confidentiality of the participants, identity and data throughout the conduct and reporting of the research. Ethical protocols may need to specify procedures for how this will be achieved. For example. transcriptions of the interviews may be encoded by the secretary so that no written record of the participants name and data exist side by side. Where records are held on computer, the Data Protection Act also applies.
Ethical Principles of Professional Bodies This set of principles is generic and not exhaustive in considerations which apply in all disciplines. Many relevant professional bodies have published their own guidelines and principles these must be followed and the current principles interpreted and extended as necessary in this context
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