SOC234 2017 Lab11 – Mossvale

Dear SOC234 Lab,

Please respond to the following question with a reply-post of no more than 250 words:

‘What are the key principles and challenges of ethical research?”

Remember that you will need to post your reply before Lab 11, and don’t forget to look at both the instructions for Tweeting and Blogging and the Lab and Lecture Guide, both up on Moodle.

Thanks and good luck, Roger.

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Posted in Uncategorized.


  1. In all research, be social or medical, guiding principles are paramount to protect stakeholders: the participants, researcher, and society.

    These ‘principles of no harm’ are benchmark for ethics, as quoted by Kennedy Institute of Ethics:
    “Nonmaleficence (do no harm) Obligation not to inflict harm intentionally; In medical ethics, the physician’s guiding maxim is “First, do no harm.” Beneficence (do good) Provide benefits to persons and contribute to their welfare. Refers to an action done for the benefit of others.”

    In order words, ethics is concerned with the relationships between researcher, participant, and society (stakeholders), and the execution of this power dynamic done so with respect and morality. The aim of this is for protection and the greater good of others. It is – in all its stages of research – about human justice. Four principles recognized in ethics research by Kennedy Institute are:
    1. Respect for Persons/Autonomy.
    2. Justice.
    3. Nonmaleficence (do no harm).
    4. Beneficence (do good) – which equate to the ultimate welfare and best interest of all stakeholders.
    The challenge for the researcher comes in the enacting of these principles during the research process: There must be informed, voluntary consent and freedom to opt out at any time, for all involved. Anonymity and confidentiality are paramount. There must be a sensitivity to possible risk or conflicts of interest. All these challenges can jeopardize the research at any stage, yet the welfare of others must come first.

    1. Kennedy Institute of Ethics, Georgetown University – Ethics background. Principles. (Accessed 17 October 2017)

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  2. Ethical principles are the way in which we as individuals should behave. In research, the researcher has a responsibility to participants and is the core of any social study. Researchers also follow ethical guidelines throughout the research process, which gives quality results.
    Ethical principles include; Research merit and integrity, justice, beneficence and respect for humans. These ethical obligations include informed, voluntary consent, which outlines participant rights and informs of any potential risks. It is important to protect participant from harm, particularly for vulnerable individuals and minority groups. The researcher also has an obligation to confidentiality and protecting the identity of participants. One of the main challenges in research is the power struggle between the researcher and the participant. In in-depth and focus group interviews, it is crucial the researcher allows the participant to play an active role in collecting data.

    Habibis, D 2013, ‘Ethics and Social Research’, in M Walter (ed), Social Research Methods, 3rd edn, Oxford University Press, Victoria, Pp. 73-96

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  3. There are numerous ethical challenges involved with research, due to the variety of subjects and concepts it can be strenuous to ensure that research is ethically sound. The principles include identifying possible risks. These consist of harmful questions, lack of informed consent, breaching privacy and anonymity of participants, harmful interventions and insufficient identification of groups most likely to be at risk. Procedures can be implemented to prevent these liabilities.
    The development of informed consent is a fundamental aspect of any research project, but “sometimes risks are a necessary part of the research design and need to be made explicit in informing participants so as to gain their ‘informed consent,’” (Patulny, 2017). Gaining informed consent includes providing knowledge of research, non-coercive participation, consent via signature or statement, and giving knowledge of their right to opt out or decline the use of information they have given at any time. In an article ‘Consent and ethics in Facebooks emotional manipulation study’, Walsh states “there ought to be a debriefing once the research is complete, explaining what has been done, why and giving the participants an option to opt out,” (2014).
    Another vital component of ethical risk management is assuring privacy, confidentiality and anonymity of participants. There are three processes that researchers need to consider. Firstly, the storage of the information gathered from participants. Secondly, that the private information given is confidential, and lastly use of data should not abuse the participants rights.
    Patulny, R 2017, ‘Research Ethics’ PowerPoint slides, SOC234, University of Wollongong, viewed 11th of October.
    Walsh, P 2014, ‘Consent and ethics in Facebook’s emotional manipulation study,’ The Conversation, 1st of July, viewed 17th October,

  4. Ethics is a huge part when it comes to social research as it makes sure that person conducting the research has an outline of moral standards that they need to keep intact with to make sure that no one’s human rights are being violated. Ethics is there to help keep a good relationship between the researcher and the research as the researcher is in a higher position then the research. Key principles for ethics in research are research merit and integrity, justice, beneficence and respect for human beings. By following these key principles, it allows the researcher to stay as ethical as they can throughout their research and allow them to make right decisions if they’re faced with an ethical dilemma. Habibis 2013 informs us that when conducting qualitative research, it is more open to ethical dilemmas. This creates challenges when it comes to taking on that research method but by following the principles it shouldn’t be hard to be ethical.

    Habibis, D 2013, ‘Ethics and Social Research’, in M Walter (ed), Social Research Methods, 3rd edn, Oxford University Press, Victoria, Pp. 73-96

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  5. Key principles of ethical principles include
    1. Beneficence: this principle implements always do good by the respondent
    2. Non malfeasance- cause no harm to the respondent
    As the researcher, it is vital to implement these key ethical principles when conducting the research process. Before you start the research it is crucial to acquire from the potential respondents informed consent. This reduces to opportunity for harm to arise. Having the informed consent allows the respondent to protect their confidential information and keep their personal information anonymous. It is also important to offer the respondent the right to withdraw from participating in the research (Freegard, 2006,p.42-56). Identifying challenges in ethical research can arise in a number of guises which include moral ambivalence, ethical predicaments and moral affliction. It is vital for the researcher to be aware of ethical issues to arise within the research process and identify the need to promote and indorse a professional code of practice in the delivery of the research always (Freegard,2006, p.68-71). Having an understanding of how power may influence the research process creating an ‘uneven balance’ between the researcher and the respondent is crucial. Therefore it creates a ethical dilemma and lack of professional conduct in the research process (Habibis, 2013, p.73).
    For the researcher to provide an ethical research approach it is imperative to understand both the principles and challenges of ethical research.
    Freegard,H (2006), ‘Ethical Practice for Health Professionals’, Thompson, pp. 42-71.
    Habibis, D (2013), Chapter 4 in ‘Social Research Methods’ (3rd ed) Oxford University Press, p. 73

  6. Ethics reflect our beliefs about what is right and wrong in regards to human behaviour. When conducting social research that involves people it is important to consider the five key principles of ethical research which include:
    • Minimising the risk of harm: Will this research put anyone in direct or indirect danger? How do researchers minimise harm?
    • Obtaining informed consent: Does the participant fully understand what will be occurring throughout the research?
    • Anonymity and confidentiality: Will the participant’s identity be kept confidential? How can the researcher ensure this? Do the participants need aliases?
    • Avoiding deceptive practices and providing the right to withdraw at any time. This is especially important when conducting social research that deals with sensitive issues and that brings up traumatic memories.
    When conducting a study researchers often face ethical challenges and can result in the study becoming the subject of controversy. Ethical challenges can occur at all stages of the study. Researchers need to remain objective when conducting any study to maintain the integrity of the study.
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