Importance of ethical considerations in a research

By Priya Chetty on September 29, 2016

Ethical considerations form a major element in research. The researcher needs to adhere to promote the aims of the research imparting authentic knowledge, truth and prevention of error. Furthermore, following ethics enables scholars to deal collaborative approach towards their study with the assistance of their peers, mentors and other contributors to the study.

This requires values like accountability, trust, mutual respect and fairness among all the parties involved in a study. This, in turn, depends on the protection of the intellectual property rights of all the contributors, established through the implementation of ethical considerations. Other ethical considerations in research refer to accountability towards the general public by protecting the human or animal subjects used in the study. Similarly, appropriate usage of public funds and gaining public support are also important.

Examples of ethical considerations

The importance of ethical considerations in research has been presented with examples in the table below:

Ethics

Examples

Promote authentic, original and true knowledge by avoiding error.Falsifying, fabricating and misrepresentation of data which can alter a real scenario such as the degree of economic development of a nation.
To promote values of collaborative work.Maintaining the intellectual property rights of fellow researchers, mentors and other scholars. This can be achieved by bestowing proper credentials on their contribution to the research.
Public accountability.Maintaining governmental and university policies on human subject protection and animal care. This will guarantee the researcher’s accountability towards the public.

The researcher can gain public support for funding his/her study (e.g. on genes or rare medicine), which otherwise requires huge finances and time.

Maintenance of quality & integrity along with moral and social values like social responsibility, human rights, legal compliance, animal welfare, public health & safety, etc.Researchers put lives at risk when they fabricate data in the study of medicine. Furthermore, if a researcher discloses information about their AIDS subjects without their discrete can lead to mental or physical stress. 
Source: Resnik (2011); Smith (2003)

Elements of ethical considerations in a research

Therefore, to maintain ethical considerations in a study, researchers need to maintain certain elements, as stated by various scholars such as:

  • Kumar 2014;
  • Stern & Elliott 1997;
  • Bryman, A. and Bell 2011;
  • Miller et al. 2012;
  • Elliott & Stern 1997;
  • Penslar 1995;
  • Barbour 2000;
  • Smith 2003;
  • Knoppers & Joly 2006;
  • Flewitt 2005;
  • Dickert & Sugarman 2005).

Planning a research

Research should be planned to avoid misleading results and meet acceptability while the questions regarding ethical procedure should also be resolved. Furthermore, the researcher should ensure welfare and dignity of the subjects.

Safeguarding collected information

The researcher should collect responses from participants related to the study. Thus, the researcher should avoid the use of faulty equipment to ensure accuracy. Furthermore, the researcher must follow disciplinary standards and practices to safeguard the responses of the subjects.

Responsibility for protecting the respondents

The researcher should take care of their subjects from any discomfort arising due to their involvement in the research process. In addition, the researcher should adhere inform the subjects about any risks, benefits and purpose of the study.

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Maintaining privacy and confidentiality

The researcher should maintain the confidentiality of the responses of the subjects involved in the study. Furthermore, the researcher must ensure the privacy of the participants. The researcher should maintain a trustworthy relationship with the respondents so that their responses will not be divulged to others. The researcher can also use codes in order to record the data to encrypt personal information.

Following guidelines and avoiding plagiarism

It is crucial for the researcher to follow guidelines laid down by the authority before initiating a study. If the researcher finds the data to be erroneous then it is the responsibility of the researcher to correct the data.

References

  • Barbour, R.S., 2000. The role of qualitative research in broadening the “evidence base” for clinical practice. Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice, 6(2), pp.155–163.
  • Bryman, A. and Bell, E., 2011. Business Research Methods 3e, Oxford University Press.
  • Dickert, N. & Sugarman, J., 2005. Ethical Goals of Community Consultation in Research. American Journal of Public Health, 95(7), pp.1123–1127.
  • Elliott, D. & Stern, J.E., 1997. Research ethics: A reader., UPNE.
  • Flewitt, R., 2005. Conducting research with young children: some ethical considerations. Early Child Development and Care, 175(6).
  • Knoppers, B.M. & Joly, Y., 2006. The emergence of an ethical duty to disclose genetic research results: international perspectives. European Journal of Human Genetics, 14, pp.1170–1178.
  • Kumar, R., 2014. Research Methodology: A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners (Google eBook) 4th Ed., London: SAGE.
  • Miller, T. et al., 2012. Ethics in qualitative research.
  • Penslar, R.L., 1995. Research Ethics: Cases and Materials, Indiana University Press.
  • Resnik, D., 2011. What is Ethics in Research & Why is it Important? National Institute of Environmental health sciences.
  • Smith, D., 2003. Five principles for research ethics. Monitor on Psychology, 34(1), p.56. Available at: http://www.apa.org/monitor/jan03/principles.aspx [Accessed January 7, 2016].
  • Stern, J. & Elliott, D., 1997. The Ethics of Scientific Research, Hanover: University Press of New England. Available at: http://www.dartmouth.edu/~ethics/archives/Stern_Elliott.pdf [Accessed May 27, 2015].

I am a management graduate with specialisation in Marketing and Finance. I have over 12 years' experience in research and analysis. This includes fundamental and applied research in the domains of management and social sciences. I am well versed with academic research principles. Over the years i have developed a mastery in different types of data analysis on different applications like SPSS, Amos, and NVIVO. My expertise lies in inferring the findings and creating actionable strategies based on them. 

Over the past decade I have also built a profile as a researcher on Project Guru's Knowledge Tank division. I have penned over 200 articles that have earned me 400+ citations so far. My Google Scholar profile can be accessed here

I now consult university faculty through Faculty Development Programs (FDPs) on the latest developments in the field of research. I also guide individual researchers on how they can commercialise their inventions or research findings. Other developments im actively involved in at Project Guru include strengthening the "Publish" division as a bridge between industry and academia by bringing together experienced research persons, learners, and practitioners to collaboratively work on a common goal. 

 

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