What Is Ethics in Research and Why Is It Important?

Article: What Is Ethics in Research and Why Is It Important?
This article provides an overview of why ethics is important in research. Although the site does not explicitly pertain to the social sciences, the ideas are applicable

Module Overview

You have likely noticed that ethical considerations played a role throughout your entire program. Every course touched on the importance of ethics.

This is a topic that is so critical that numerous organizations (including the American Psychological Association and the American Counseling Association) have developed ethical codes for practitioners within the field of psychology.

The notion of ethical standards and behavior should permeate all facets of the field, including the work you do.

Ethics may seem to be common sense, but we have seen that ethical issues have plagued the field since its inception, and modern technological advances introduce new issues all the time. For example, collecting data online has introduced new issues in terms of confidentiality.

Every aspect of psychology, including research, involves ethical considerations. Additionally, each part of the research process involves ethical considerations.

In previous modules, you have read and reflected on the existing research. You examined both sides of any debate related to your topic. You considered the ethical implications related to your research questions.

For example, it would be unethical to conduct research that would expose individuals to dangerous conditions. You explored the research to see how ethical issues were involved and managed in related research. You considered ethics in relation to the design you chose for your study.

For example, it could be unethical to use an experiment if it meant withholding treatment for the control group. Also, you will have considered how to avoid using a protected population as much as possible (e.g., prisoners, children, or pregnant women).

The process you use to manage your study also involves ethical considerations. You must consider the ethics involved in recruitment, the types of instruments you use, and whether they are appropriate for your chosen population.

You will discuss how you are eliminating or mitigating any chance of emotional or mental distress to participants, especially if your population is a protected population. Maybe you will limit their exposure or provide support (e.g., counseling) or some other type of control.

Consider how you will handle consent, management of data, and requests to withdraw. Have a clear plan for protecting confidentiality for the entire life of the data. If your study incorporates other researchers or individuals to provide inter-rater reliability, consider how you will manage data and confidentiality.

Finally, consider how you will ethically manage the analysis and dissemination of the findings, including publication, presentation, and providing reports to stakeholders.

Support every decision with literature. Make your analysis of the ethical considerations explicit and consider how others might experience unforeseen distress or problems.

Consider not only the ethical requirements of the American Psychological Association and other relevant societies, but also ethical and legal requirements for your organization, if applicable.

Clearly identify who would have oversight of the ethics in your study and why

7-1 Discussion

Ethical Concerns Discussion TopicExplain the ethical implications involved in your proposal, including any ethical considerations related to the problem, intervention (if appropriate), research methods, and design.

Include in your discussion a brief description of the population of interest and what kinds of ethical implications might be involved with this population. For example, are you working with kids, older adults, inmates, or other special populations?

Are you working with people who might have suffered a trauma of some sort?

You must explain the needs of your potential population and how diversity may play a role (e.g., different cultural needs).

If you think your study will have limited ethical implications, explain how you have evaluated the topic for ethical considerations, including the guidelines you have used.

Finally, identify ways to mitigate or address any ethical issues.In your responses to your classmates, discuss any other potential concerns or ethical implications you see.

Refer to the Capstone Discussion Rubric for directions on completing these discussions.

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