How to present ethical considerations in a dissertation?

Ethical considerations in a dissertation are one of the cardinal elements of the research methodology which confirms that the researcher has considered all necessary guidelines that make the research ethically valid. As this methodological element simultaneously confirms that the findings derived from the research are trustworthy so they can be readily used as references for future empirical works. There are some academically acknowledged ways by means of which the ethical considerations of research can be met.

Acknowledging the sources used is essential for ethical considerations

The most essential mandate of ethical considerations is that all the sources used in the research have to be properly acknowledged. This is applicable to both direct and indirect quotes and information that are used in the research. Moreover, specific referencing styles that are academically specified have to be followed for referencing the sources.  These referencing styles include Harvard Author-Date Style, Harvard Australian Style, MLA style, Chicago Style, APA Style, et. al. For example, in a study on the theory of speech act.

Speech act is a linguistic theory in which communication is established between the addressee and the speaker through physical gestures of greeting, apologizing, requesting and complaining.

If due acknowledgement to the source from which this quotation has been derived is not given in the study, the study will be penalized on the grounds of being penalized. Therefore, a properly referenced version of this sentence would be:-

Speech act is a linguistic theory in which communication is established between the addressee and the speaker   through physical gestures of greeting, apologizing, requesting and complaining (Jarasch et al.). [MLA Style]

Speech act is a linguistic theory in which communication is established between the addressee and the speaker   through physical gestures of greeting, apologizing, requesting and complaining (Jarasch, Jama, & Gümüs, 2014) [APA Style, 6th Edition]

Speech act is a linguistic theory in which communication is established between the addressee and the speaker   through physical gestures of greeting, apologizing, requesting and complaining (Jarasch et al. 2014). [Harvard Author-Date Referencing Style]

Simultaneously, an elaborate bibliography has to be maintained in the research with detailed information on authorship, the title of the work, date of publication, type of source, and so on.  For the above example, the bibliography would be:-

  • MLA Style: Jarasch, J., et al. Speech Act Theory. Language and Society, 2014, https://www.uni-due.de/~lan300/Speech_Act_Theory_(Jarasch_Jamai_Guemuesh).pdf.
  • APA Style, 6th Edition: Jarasch, J., Jama, I., & Gümüs, K. (2014). Speech Act Theory. Language and Society. Retrieved from https://www.uni-due.de/~lan300/Speech_Act_Theory_(Jarasch_Jamai_Guemuesh).pdf
  • Harvard Author-Date Referencing Style: Jarasch, J., Jama, I., Gümüs, K., 2014. Speech Act Theory. Language and Society.

Discussing the research goal

In research, where the researcher intends to take primary data from a selected set of respondents it is essential to communicate clearly with the sampled population and make them aware of the reason for which the research is being undertaken and the purpose that the research expects to serve.

Getting prior consent of respondents

Another mandate of ethical considerations of a dissertation is that no one from the sampled population could be forced to take part in the questionnaire survey or the face-to-face interview that the researcher aspires to conduct for collecting primary data.  Moreover, whoever from the sampled population shows interest to take part in the questionnaire survey or the face-to-face interview would be supposed to sign a consent form as a token of acceptance and willing participation in the procedure.

Maintaining confidentiality

A researcher has to take into consideration that confidentiality of the identity of each of the respondents has to be maintained while analyzing their feedbacks for making the final interpretations. 

For instance, consider a dissertation on the topic Management Perspective on the Significance of Employee Satisfaction Strategies on Employee Productivity.

While answering question of whether such a program exists in their organization and whether the management feels positive about such norms, some people might feel too reluctant to give proper feedback fearing that they would earn the wrath of the management if they do so. Therefore, here the researcher has to assure the respondents that the privacy of the feedbacks that they share shall be maintained. Simultaneously, while representing their feedback in the dissertation, the researcher has to write,

Respondent A said: Our management is not very keen on doing any specific thing that would make us feel happier and more connected with the organization.

Similarly, for another such comment, the researcher should write,

Respond D said:  Our management is too autocratic in nature. The higher authority only knows how to pressure staffs and make them work. If you do not live up to their expectations, they will fire you right away without giving a second thought.

Apara Bhattacharya

Apara Bhattacharya

Research analyst at Project Guru
Ardent passion has helped Apara into a career that involves writing on varied subjects and expressing different contemporary issues around the World. A Masters in English and a diploma in Business English are her academic strengths that have helped her in shaping her career as an analyst. She started her career with an NGO that imparts soft skills and communicative English. Her association with reputed research firms of India gave her a break as a researcher scholar was .
Apara Bhattacharya

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