SOC234 2017 Lab11 – Wed 1330 Rm 17-106

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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17 Comments

  1. The key principles and challenges of ethical research
    The key principles of ethical research can be defined as minimising the risk of harm, obtaining informed consent, protecting individuals confidentiality, avoiding deception within research and giving participants the ability to withdraw at any given time during the research. Different challenges regarding ethical practises during research can differentiate depending upon what is being tested. The most common challenges faced within ethical research are problems such as vulnerability of participants, ensuring protection of exploited groups, age of consent and psychological state of consent (Dickens and Cook, 1999).

    References
    Dickens, B. and Cook, R. (1999). Some ethical and legal issues in assisted reproductive technology. International Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics, 66(1), pp.55-61.

  2. Ethical considerations are essential for any research to ensure both the participants and the researcher feel safe and are protected in all circumstances. There are five main principles of ethical research which include the following. The first is minimising the risk of harm which means not putting participants in uncomfortable or harmful positions thus to do this you should gain consent, protect participant’s identity, avoid deceptive practises and have the right to withdraw participants from the research (Lund Research 2012). The next principle is obtaining informed consent which includes participants understanding what the research is about and what the research requires of them (Lund Research 2012). The third principle is protecting anonymity and confidentiality which means no personal information about the participant will be exposed (Lund Research 2012). The next principle is avoiding deceptive practises which has caused much controversy and can be a challenge of ethical research because sometimes deception is a necessary part of research to achieve certain results and outcomes (Lund Research 2012). The last principle is providing the right to withdraw from research and the researcher allowing the participant to do this at any stage of the process (Lund Research 2012).

    The challenges to ethical research is the personal connection of the researcher to the research which may cause unknowing pressure to participants (Sanjari et al 2014). Another challenge is if children are involved in the research this creates heightened accountability, regulation and surveillance as children are seen as a highly risky group (Farrell 2015). Along with this deception also is another challenge to ensure ethical research is conducted. These are a few challenges and key principles of ethical research.

    References:
    Farrell A 2015, ‘Ethics and research with children’, in A Farrell (eds), Ethical Research with Children, Open University Press, New York, pp. 1-197

    Lund Research 2012, ‘Principles of research ethics’, Laerd dissertation, viewed 15 September 2017,

    Sanjari M, Bahramnezhad F, Cheraghi MA 2014, ‘Ethical challenges of researchers in qualitative studies: the necessity to develop a specific guideline’, Journal of Medical Ethics and History of Medicine, vol. 4, no. 14, pp. 1-18

  3. Within sociological research, there are ethical guidelines and principles that must be followed to ensure the validity of a study. These guides and principles apply to all types of research and are set in place in order to protect all those involved. Ethic principles can refer to the precautions which must be taken in order to produce an ethical piece of research. Studies should only be conducted by professionals and participants have the right to leave the study at any time if they can no longer partake in it.

    Minimising risk and harm to all individuals involved is vital to any research, and this is a very important consideration to take in studies. No research should ever jeopardise the lives of the participants, or the researcher. Researchers also must take extra precaution when dealing with vulnerable groups such as children or those living with a disability. The researcher and participants need to feel safe throughout the entirety of the study.

    Informed consent, confidentiality and voluntary participation are imperative to research, as participants need to be willing and able to take part in the experiment. Informed consent is directly linked with giving potential participants information regarding all the possible risks that could occur as a result of the experiment (Murphy and Dingwall, 2007). The participants personal details should be kept private and confidential.

    In summary, all these measures and principles of ethics must be taken into consideration when conducting any research. It is vital to produce a fair and valid study.

    References:

    Murphy, E. and Dingwall, R. (2007). Informed Consent, Anticipatory Regulation and Ethnographic Practice. Social Science & Medicine, 65(1), pp.2 – 25.

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  4. Terming research ‘ethical’ implies adherence to what is considered morally right. It is crucial for researchers to follow ethical guidelines to ensure the safety and well-being of participants, especially because of the imbalance of power between the researcher and participants. Of which emanates from the researchers control over knowledge and the direction of the research (Habibis, 2013). The principles of acting ethically have been determined within several ‘guidelines’, for example the Nuremburg Code, and the Belmont Report (Habibis, 2013; Macfarlane, 2009). These guides focus on the treatment of participant and include; ensuring consent; respect for all persons; making sure the beneficiary outcomes of the study outweigh any harm, having honesty and integrity, and most importantly confidentiality (Habibis 2013; Resnik, 2015; Macfarlane, 2009). Despite these principles seeming common-sense, there are various challenges that impede the researcher’s ability of making the ethical decisions. Niemi (2016) perceives the most significant of these challenges to surround circumstances such as biases, routinized action preventing identification of possible ethical breaches, inability to perceive how action could be considered unethical and confusion in regards to what truly is considered morally right or wrong. While other literature focusses on challenges in ensuring research is ethically sound as Macfarlane emphasises, “Research involves changing contexts, evolving relationships and, above all, unanticipated consequences: things that simply happen and require the researcher to be adaptable to these circumstances” (2009, p.26). Therefore, concluding that ethical action is not truly as straight forward as it seems, it will always be something difficult that researcher’s must remain highly conscious of throughout all steps on the process. However, equally so it is important for the value of the research to always act in accordance with ethics.

    References:
    Habibis, D (2013) ‘Ethics and Social Research’, Chapter 4 in Walter, Maggie (ed.). (2013). Social Research Methods. 3rd Edition. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press, pp. 72-98.

    Macfarlane, B 2009, ‘Researching with integrity the ethics of academic enquiry’, Routledge, New York.

    Niemi, P 2016, ‘Six Challenges for Ethical Conduct in Science’, Science & Engineering Ethics, vol. 22, no. 4, pp. 1007-1025.

    Resnik, DB 2015, ‘What is Ethics in Research & Why is it Important?’, National Institute of Environmental Health Science, accessed on 15 October 2017, .

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  5. What are the key principles and challenges of ethical research?

    Basic ethical guidelines are fundamental for any sociological research to ensure all parties involved feel as comfortable and safe as possible. There are five key principles of ethical research(Habibis,2013):
    – Minimising the risk of harm
    – Obtaining informed consent
    – Protecting individual’s confidentiality
    – Avoiding deception within research
    – Allowing participants to withdraw at anytime
    Before undertaking research of any kind, it is important to assess if the gain to society outweighs the potential harm the research might have on its participants and follow the ethical guidelines due to the already apparent power balance between researcher and researched. Ethical research may have considerable challenges, as certain studies have different risk levels depending on what the research question is asking. Challenges arise from many factors including the vulnerability and pressure felt by the participants, bias, and different opinions on what is right and wrong. (Niemi,2016)
    The Stanford prison experiment (Zimbardo,1973) is an example of how ignoring ethical principles to research cannot only negatively impact the experiment, but all individuals involved. There are many problems that arise involving ethics of research when conducting experiments and we must be careful to follow the key principles in order to avoid these problems.

    References:

    Habibis, D (2013) ‘Ethics and Social Research’, Chapter 4 in Walter, Maggie (ed.). (2013). Social Research Methods. 3rd Edition. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press, p72-98

    Niemi, P 2016, ‘Six Challenges for Ethical Conduct in Science’, Science & Engineering Ethics, vol. 22, no. 4, pp. 1007-1025.

    Lund Research 2012, ‘Principles of research ethics’, Laerd dissertation, viewed 15 September 2017,

    #S234UOW17  #Lab11  #Wed130a

  6. Although research in sociology aims to dig deep and make the familiar strange, it is important that the researcher keeps their studies ethical. Key principles such as informed consent, voluntary participation, privacy, confidentiality and anonymity will keep research ethical. For example, informed consent is “a document of agreement that ensures, first, that research respondents are fully informed about what the research is about and what participation will involve, and second, that they make the decision to participate without any formal or informal coercion” (Habibis, 2010). Created after World War Two, the ‘Nuremberg Code’ clearly highlights key principles that promote ethical research. The code encourages voluntary consent, avoiding all unnecessary physical/mental injury and most importantly that the risk should never exceed humanitarian importance of research. Challenges such as harmful questions and a breach of privacy should be avoided. Harmful questions have the ability to cause stress or make the respondent feel uncomfortable therefore personal questions about family and sexuality for example should be approached in the correct manner. Every researcher should also understand that “confidential information about the respondent is disclosed, and the disclosure has consequences for the respondent personally” (Martin and Marker, 2007) therefore it is important that the researcher explains this to their respondent or makes their identity anonymous. Both these challenges have the ability to spoil one’s research, making it important to use them correctly. To conclude, while the benefits of research outweigh the risks, it is important that one’s research remains ethical to minimise the risks of a respondent being hurt.

    References

    Habibis, D (2013) ‘Ethics and Social Research’, Chapter 4 in Walter, Maggie (ed.). (2013). Social Research Methods. 3rd Edition. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press, p72-98
    Martin, J. and Marker, D. (2007) “Informed consent: Interpretations and practice on social surveys”, Social Science & Medicine 65: 2260-2271

  7. Ethical research is the application of morally acceptable behaviour toward research participants. There are many differing principles and challenges that researchers face in creating ethical research. Habibas mentions that the challenges present are “informed consent, confidentiality, anonymity and protection from harm” (2013). A point that is spoken about at depth is the idea that research “must be voluntary without coercion” (Habibas, 2013). It is the responsibility of the researcher to create an inclusive, non-coercive environment to achieve the best, ethical results. The Facebook case study illustrates the importance of consent amongst participants. Informed consent was not provided in order to “access the data or manipulate their feeds” (Hunter, 2014). When consent is not provided, it creates a lack of distrust within the research field. It is imperative to guarantee participants that they will remain anonymous and the information they provide will be confidential. Irene Walton illustrates that “this guarantee also ensures the information that is given is more likely to be accurate or more truthful” (Walton, 2016). It is important for the researcher to relay that their participation will remain anonymous and confidential. Protecting participants from any harm that may be caused throughout the research is of key importance. Questions that are too probing and direct may make the participants feel targeted and uncomfortable. It is clear that creating an inclusive and encouraging environment is beneficial to all who are involved. In conclusion, it is crucial that researchers plan ahead and shape their research around ethics so that their research is true and fair to the participants involved.
    Habibis, D (2013) ‘Ethics and Social Research’, Chapter 4 in Walter, Maggie (ed.). (2013). Social Research Methods. 3rd Edition. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press, p72-98

    Hunter, D (2014) ‘Consent and ethics in Facebook’s manipulation study.’ The Conversation, 1/7/14URL
    Walton, I 2016, “Ethical Research”, Midwifery Matters, issue 151, pp 18-20.

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  8. There are a number of principles and challenges that influence a researcher’s ability to engage within ethical research. Ethics define within a society or situation what behaviours or actions are morally right or wrong (Habibis, 2013). This is important for the engagement with research as researchers and the research that is created have high social and cultural value attached to them (Habibis, 2013). This can influence the public and social policy within a society, thus, the individuals within it. The uneven power relationship between the researcher and that of the study population requires ethical considerations in order for correct knowledge creation.

    Key concerns of ethical research include the following of ethical guidelines, such as the Nuremberg code, which limits the power of researchers to conduct in abuses of power or unethical practices that might harm participants. A key concern for all research is that the research design should not put participants at risk. A low level of risk may be needed for the research subject itself, but not a level of risk that puts the participant in an uncomfortable position that exposes them to harmful risk. Low risk may be observational studies, where participants have a lack of prior consent due to the fact that researchers are observing individuals in their natural environment without intervention. This is done in order for the researcher not to influence the outcome of the study, but puts the participant in a position where no foreseeable risk of harm is present to them.

    A key principle for ethical research is that of concern and respect for human beings. This principle recognises the value of human beings, which encourages ethical treatment of them. This respects the participant’s welfare, beliefs, perceptions, customs and cultural heritage (Habibis, 2013). Through this, researchers have to gain informed consent of participants and the protection of them through anonymity and confidentiality of their engagement with the research design. Anonymity is difficult to maintain, as recruitment and interviews, and other qualitative methods require details regarding the participant. However, the report and data storage should maintain anonymity, so have individuals who access it at a later date can not possess knowledge of the participants. This is a challenge that researchers must get around in order to recruit participants to the study.

    Habibis, D (2013) ‘Ethics and Social Research’, Chapter 4 in Walter, Maggie (ed.). (2013). Social Research Methods. 3rd Edition. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press, p72-98

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  9. Generally, ethical guidelines apply to all research, research on human subject must meet basic ethical standards, the key issue to be assessed when conducting such research is risk to participants and vulnerability. This may consider such elements as risk, discomfort, stress or embarrassment to participant. Safety must always be considered; researchers are expected to show they have done everything possible to minimise harm, risk or vulnerability to participants. Another major issue when conducting research is ensuring all participants are informed, aware and that all information is understood and clear to them. Participants need to be informed of their rights and that their confidentiality will be ensured at all times. Researchers should provide participants with information in relation to the research they are going to undertake. This should provide such information as to the purpose of the research, the researchers organisation, how long it will take, how results will be used along with assurance that information will be kept confidential, participation is voluntary and participant can withdraw at any time and express how their contribution is important to the study. After all information is understood and considered, participants will need to sign a consent form stating that the signatory has read the information sheet, understands the study, and agrees to participates. The consent form must also provide such information that the study is voluntary in nature and the contact details of researcher are provided.
    There are two major obligations of researchers to protect participants privacy, firstly anonymity ensures the protection of respondents from identification in the research, secondly, as explained above is maintaining confidentiality ensuring that the contributions of participant can’t be identified.

    Reference:

    Habibis, D. (2013) ‘Ethics and Social Research’, Chapter 4 in Walter, Maggie (ed.). (2013). Social Research Methods. 3rd Edition. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press, p72-98

    Martin, J. and Marker, D. (2007) “Informed consent: Interpretations and practice on social surveys”, Social Science & Medicine 2260-2271.

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  10. Sociological research and ethics run hand in hand in relation to their importance to create significant work. It is specifically important for researchers to conduct ethical research and study in order to achieve proper results. Researchers must ensure confidentiality and anonymity is confirmed in relation to research to keep it credible and run within the specific ethical guidelines that are in place. Consent is also another aspect which is important in research as it is reflective on peoples willingness to participate in the study which also furthers its credibility. As depicted by Habibis there are 5 key elements to ethical research these include ensuring participants are aware they can withdraw at any time, getting informed consent, lowering the harm risks, protection of confidentiality of the individual and lastly ensuring deception within research is clearly avoided. Thus, overall conflicts of interest can occur between the researchers and researchers and both need to be protected and informed previously of the purpose and importance of the research and what is undertaken so the researched is fully aware.

    Reference:
    Habibis, D (2013) ‘Ethics and Social Research’, Chapter 4 in Walter, Maggie (ed.). (2013). Social Research Methods. 3rd Edition. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press, p72-98

  11. The idea of doing no harm to others is the vital anchor when regarding the key principles and challenges of ethical research. This is shown by Marker and Marker (2007, pp. 2266) where they state, “A fundamental principle of survey research is that there should be no (or minimal) negative consequences to individuals because of participating…” This is further substantiated by the lecture of week 11 by Dr Roger Patulny (2017) who specifically notes this with the slides on minimising risks. Notions of safety and risks both apparent and otherwise are cited. Yet while a successful completion of research requires minimal risk to participants, Dr Patulny points out, “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’”.
    The question then becomes how to avoid causing any unnecessary physical and, or emotional trauma whilst conducting ethical research. Martin and Marker (2007, pp. 2264-2269) break it down into several key processes: informed consent, purpose and subject of the project, how the results will be used, how long the process of interaction will last for, amongst many others. These codes of practice can be challenging to complete depending on the type of research being conducted, but they must to avoid any pitfalls in the future following completion of participant interaction. Hunter (2014) highlights this in his breakdown of Facebook’s ‘unethical’ manipulation of its feed to thousands of users. “There are two main things that would normally be taken as needing consent in this study:
    1. Accessing the data.
    2. Manipulating the news feed.

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  12. Multiple ethical principles are abided by when participants partake in social research. Researchers must be careful to not place participants in an environment or situation that may cause the risk of physical or mental harm to both them and the participant (Habibis, 2013). Another major principle is the confidentiality of personal information. All information that specifically identifies an individual should be protected, and they should have full knowledge on how their information will be used and by whom it will be used by. Informed consent from the participant is also critical, as it represents the acknowledgement from the participant that they are aware of what they are participating in and for what purpose. It is vital that they are informed that they can withdraw from the research at any point in time, as participants’ welfare and comfort is a priority (Habibis, 2013).

    Researchers can be confronted with numerous challenges, including conflict of interest between researcher and those being researched (Habibis, 2010). An example of this is when a researcher requires a high response rate with as minimal missing data as possible, however participants possess the right to refuse to answer a question. The researcher needs a balance, or to find an approach to their research that will obtain the most valid and reliable data, whilst still abiding by the ethical principles. The welfare of participants and protection of privacy can also be challenging. Researchers must use methods that create an environment where participants do not feel vulnerable and are protected of their rights when partaking in studies.

    Habibis, D (2013) ‘Ethics and Social Research’, Chapter 4 in Walter, Maggie (ed.). (2013). Social Research Methods. 3rd Edition. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press, p72-98

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  13. Sociological studies require the researcher to follow ethical guidelines. There are many factors that contribute to ethical research, however there are also challenges.

    According to research by Payne (2000), ethical research in social sciences involves ontological, epistemological, theoretical and methodological assumptions that are embedded within practices of academic scholarship.

    Ethical research should be completely anonymous (Walton 2016). The participants who undertake any research must completely confident that their identity will remain anonymous throughout the research, and within the resulting product. This also includes the research participants right to privacy, which is also a component of ethical research (Walton 2016). Another component of ethical research is that the participation is voluntary (Walton 2016). It is important that individuals are not coerced into taking part in research, nor should they be misled or given a partial understanding of the research and what is expected of them (Walton 2016).

    Ethical approaches to research becomes challenging when researching minority groups such as people with disabilities or refugees (Payne 2000). These challenges arise when considering the definitions of morality and ethics (Payne 2000). Morality extends into a “grey zone where the lines between law and morality, etiquette and morality, and been aesthetics and morality may not be easily drawn” (Payne 2000).

    Ethics is an important component of all research and should be followed very closely to avoid these challenges.

    References:

    Payne, S 2000, ‘Challenges for research ethics and moral knowledge construction in the applied social sciences’, Journal of Business Ethics, vol. 26, no. 4, pp. 307-318.

    Walton, I 2016, ‘Ethical research’, Midwifery Matters, vol. 9, no. 6, pp. 18-20.

  14. Ethical Research is important because it reassure the protection of the people who is involved in the research as well as giving a means to legitimize the outcome. In order to ensure the ethics of a research, there are 5 key concept one should comply:
    – Minimising the risk of harm.
    – Obtaining informed consent.
    – Protecting individual’s confidentiality.
    – Avoiding deception within research.
    – Allowing participants to withdraw at anytime.
    (Habibis, 2013).
    One challenge ones face while doing a research is that the line between consent and coerce might become very blurred. Since ones dive deeper into the research, they might feel comply to continue doing the research despite feeling the pressure of the reaserch. The after effects of a research can be enormous and cannot be calculated by any certain means which will pose more ethical question afterwards. “Research involves changing contexts, evolving relationships and, above all, unanticipated consequences: things that simply happen and require the researcher to be adaptable to these circumstances” (MacFarlane 2009, p.26). Though a research might start out to be ethical, one might run into an ethical problems during, even after the research, which could pose problematic issue during the process.

  15. To effectively research society, ethical guidelines and principles must be adhered to, securing the validity of a study. The protection and security of participants and researchers heighten the significance to follow the appropriate ethical guidelines. Ethical practices refer to the provisions which should be applied when competently establishing an ethical piece of investigation. Its integral that participants feel safe and protected throughout the entirety of the study. Reducing risk and injury to all persons involved is fundamental to any study. Researchers must apply confidentiality and anonymity to investigation, ensuring the result is conclusive and valid within the ethical guidelines that are in place. In addition, consent is another important factor to any good research and is very influential on an individual’s willingness to participate. Habibis 2013 established five key principles of ethical research, these include:
    – Minimising the risk of harm
    – Obtaining informed consent
    – Protecting individual’s confidentiality
    – Avoiding deception within research
    – Allowing participants to withdraw at anytime

    All types of ethical research have its fair share of challenges and this comes down to the varying studies that alter in risk levels depending on what the research question is asking. Challenges develop from many factors including the vulnerability and pressure felt by the participants, bias and different opinions on what is right and wrong. (Niemi 2016). In order to avoid these complications, all processes and principles of ethics are fundamental to practice if the desired result is to be a fair an authorised research report.

    Habibis, D. (2013) ‘Ethics and Social Research’, Chapter 4 in Walter, Maggie (ed.). (2013). Social Research Methods. 3rd Edition. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press, p72-98

    Niemi, P 2016, ‘Six Challenges for Ethical Conduct in Science’, Science & Engineering Ethics, vol. 22, no. 4, pp. 1007-1025.

    #S234UOW17 #Lab11 #Wed330

  16. Undertaking social research is different from other research principles as it involves the interaction with human beings. For this reason, a level of ethics must be taken into consideration, Walters defines ethics as ‘the establishment of a set of moral standards that govern behaviour in a particular setting or for a particular group’ (Walter 2013, p.73). These moral standards include research merit and integrity, justice, beneficence and respect for human beings (Walter 2013, p.78). The research must always have the participants best interest at heart and harm must be avoided or reduced where possible. A common way that a base line of ethics is applied is through informed consent and effective communication. Vulnerable groups must be taken into consideration, these include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and young people. The researcher must also be aware that their individual moral code may not link up with others, especially when cross-culture exchanges are inherent. Extensive research must be undertaken when conducting research projects with vulnerable groups. The moral dilemma entwined in ethics is how effective research is when high levels of conduct are enforced, for example informing people they are being studied which consequently alters their behaviour. Past social research projects have been enacted without the standard level of ethics, thus creating a lively debate about whether it is appropriate when the data generated is rich and useful.
    Reference
    Walter, M 2013, ‘The Foundations of Good Social Science Research’, Social Research Methods, 3nd Edition, South Melbourne: Oxford University Press

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