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Ethics & Research

Ethics & Research

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Ethics & Research

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  1. Ethics & Research Communication Research Week 2 Myra Gurney

  2. What is Ethics? • Can be defined as a systematic attempt, through the use of reason, to make sense of our individual and social moral experience in such a way as to determine the rules which govern human conduct and the the values worth pursuing in life • A set of standards that regulate our behaviour • Can be socially and culturally determined Communication Research Spring 2005

  3. What is Ethics? • Enables us to distinguish between what is acceptable and legitimate and what is not • The word ‘ethics’ comes from the Greek ethos meaning custom and character • An important aspect of any ethical system is the role of truth and lies Communication Research Spring 2005

  4. Types of Ethics • Normative – dictate what is morally correct behaviour. • Fundamental concern is the development and justification of systems of moral rules which guide conduct • Statements of ‘ought’ Communication Research Spring 2005

  5. Types of Ethics • Relative – “Fire burns both in Hellas and in Persia; but men’s ideas of right or wrong vary from place to place.” … Aristotle’s Nichomanchean Ethics • Absolute – application of principles regardless of context or circumstances eg exercise of absolute power in politics – tyranny Communication Research Spring 2005

  6. Research Ethics • All researchers, even students, have a responsibility to conduct ethical research • Participants in research studies should know and understand their rights and responsibilities • Ethical considerations are part of the design of the research project Communication Research Spring 2005

  7. The 10 point Nuremburg Code • 1.Participation must be voluntary, and subjects should have the capacity to give consent. Further, subjects should be fully informed of the purposes, nature, and duration of the experiment. • 2. The research should yield results that are useful to society and that cannot be obtained in any other way. Communication Research Spring 2005

  8. The 10 point Nuremburg Code • 3. The research should have a sound footing in animal research and be based on the natural history of the problem under study. • 4. Steps should be taken in the research to avoid unnecessary physical or psychological harm to the subjects. • 5. Research should not be conducted if there is reason to believe that death or disability will occur in the subjects. Communication Research Spring 2005

  9. The 10 point Nuremburg Code • 6.The risk involved in the research should be proportional to the benefits to be obtained. • 7. Proper plans should be made and facilities provided to protect the subject from harm. • 8. Research should be conducted by highly qualified scientists only. Communication Research Spring 2005

  10. The 10 point Nuremburg Code • 9. The subject should have the freedom to withdraw at any time if he or she has reached the conclusion that continuing in the experiment is not possible. • 10. The researcher must be prepared to discontinue the experiment if it becomes evident that continuing will be harmful to the subject. Communication Research Spring 2005

  11. Unethical research – The Willowbrook Studies • 1963-66 at Willowbrook State School in New York for “mentally defective persons” • Children deliberately infected with hepatitis in order to understand the natural history of the disease and the effects of gamma globulin in preventing the disease • Defended on the grounds that the children would have caught it anyway – better under “controlled conditions” Communication Research Spring 2005

  12. Unethical research – John B Watson and “Little Albert” • Famous psychological experiment to test the effects of classical conditioning • Little Albert was 11 months old • Introduced to a laboratory white rat of whom he initially had no fear • When the rat was later introduced, a scary stimulus (eg a loud noise) was “paired” with the original • Albert was later conditioned to fear anything white including a Santa Claus mask Communication Research Spring 2005

  13. Unethical research – Simulated Rape Field Study • Harari, Harari & White (1985) male participants alone or in groups were exposed to simulated rape (screaming woman grabbed by male assailant and dragged into bushes) • Measured yes or no to intervention by participants • Prior to intervention, participants debriefed Communication Research Spring 2005

  14. Simulated Rape Study – problems • Should informed consent have been obtained? Post hoc informed consent? • Psychological Stress? • Unexpected reactions by participants, e.g. what if someone had a gun? • Should subjects be stopped and debriefed? What about those who didn’t stop? What should debriefing include? Communication Research Spring 2005

  15. The Belmont Principles • The primary task of the National Commission was to identify the ethical principles that would guide all research involving humans. The Belmont Report -- Ethical Principles and Guidelines for the Protection of Human Subjects was published in 1978. • The principles of The Belmont Report govern all research supported by the U.S. government today. Communication Research Spring 2005

  16. Current Standards 3 BASIC FACTORS • 1. Respect for Persons: This principle acknowledges the dignity and freedom of every person. It requires obtaining informed consent from research subjects (or their legally authorized representatives). • 2. Beneficence: This principle requires that researchers maximize benefits and minimize harms associated with research. Research-related risks must be reasonable in light of expected benefits • 3. Justice: This principle requires equitable selection and recruitment and fair treatment of research subjects. Communication Research Spring 2005

  17. The Problem of Deception Deception interferes with a subjects’ right to be informed • Role-Playing • Research shows that informed and uninformed participants behave differently • Prior Consent • General consent to be uninformed • Debriefing • Inform participants about study (methods, purpose, results) including deception used Communication Research Spring 2005

  18. What is active deception? • Misrepresenting the purpose • False statements about the identity of the researcher • False promises to the participant • Violations of promise of anonymity • Misleading statements about equipment and procedures • Use of pseudosubjects Communication Research Spring 2005

  19. What is active deception? • False diagnoses and other reports • False interaction • Using placebos or secret administration of drugs • Misleading settings and behavior of the experimenter Communication Research Spring 2005

  20. Passive Deception • Doing unrecognized conditioning • Provoking and secretly recording negative behavior of participants • Making concealed observations • Doing unrecognized participant observation • Using projective techniques and otherpersonality tests. Communication Research Spring 2005

  21. Debriefing • Make a full disclosure of purposes of the research • Give a complete description of and justification for the deception • Discuss the problem of perseverance • Provide a convincing argument for the need for deception • Demonstrate bogus experiment or show participants that actual responses were never seen by the experimenter • Have participants observe a subsequent session showing deception • Make the individual an active participant in the research Communication Research Spring 2005

  22. Ethical issues in conducting research • Intentional deception • Use of confederates • Physical and psychological harm • Upholding anonymity and confidentiality • Videotaping and audiotaping participants • Debriefing participants Communication Research Spring 2005

  23. Ethical Issues in reporting research • Ensuring accuracy • Researcher is always responsible for accuracy regardless of who helps • Avoiding plagiarism by • Using direct quote • Using summaries or paraphrases • Acknowledge ideas or contributions • Protecting identities of participants Communication Research Spring 2005