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Literature Review and Ethical Issues

Literature Review and Ethical Issues

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Literature Review and Ethical Issues

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  1. Literature Review and Ethical Issues Literature Review Ethical Behavior The Nuremberg Code IRB

  2. What is a Literature Review? • What is known about the subject? • Are there any gaps in the knowledge of the subject? • Have areas of further study been identified by other researchers that you may want to consider? • Is there consensus about the topic?

  3. What is a Literature Review? • What methods or problems were identified by others studying in the field and how might they impact your research? • What is the current status of research in this area? • What sources of information or data were identified that might be useful to you?

  4. How to do a literature search? • Defining the topic • In order to begin your literature review you must first define your research question. • What is the purpose?  What does it mean?  What are the key words? • Are there other words which could be used, such as synonyms, variations in spelling? 

  5. How to do a literature search? • Compiling a list of keywords • Think about both general terms and very specific terms for broadening and narrowing your search. • The keyword or phrase is the basic unit of any search.  • The use of an index and/or thesaurus is also advisable to establish the useful terms.        

  6. How to do a literature search? • Identifying Resources • Information is available in a number of formats: • Books • Journals • Conference Papers • Dissertations • Internet ( • Electronic Databases

  7. Jstor at

  8. Ethical behavior (definition) • Behavior is ethical insofar as it follows the rules that have been specifically oriented to the welfare of the larger society and not to the self-interest of the professional • To act unethically is to act unprofessionally

  9. Ethical research • There's no such thing as perfectly ethical research • In fact, all research is inherently unethical to some degree • This is because you're using the most powerful tools science has to offer in getting at truth or some needed change, and with your results, somebody's going to be proven wrong or lose out in the power struggle

  10. Ethical research • There's also no such thing as totally harmless research • Somebody, usually your subjects, is going to be harmed, either psychologically, socially, physically, or economically • Their privacy is invaded to get any useful information (why do research on the obvious, surface characteristics of people?), and this is psychological harm

  11. Social Harm • Socially and physically, we are harming them by taking up their time with our “silly” research • Economically, we are exploiting them by not paying them for their contribution • We, the researchers, will go on and become famous writing a book about them, but they will always remain lowly research subjects • Ethically, research is just a whole awkward and asymmetrical situation overall.

  12. Political Regulation of Research • Historically, governments have had to put serious restrictions on researchers. In fact, the origin of codes of research ethics can be traced to the NUREMBERG CODE, a list of rules established by a military tribunal on Nazi war crimes during World War II. 

  13. The Nuremberg Code • Voluntary consent • Fruitful results for the good of society • Anticipated results will justify the performance of experiment • Avoid all unnecessary physical or mental suffering • No research should be conducted where there is a reason to believe that death or disabling injury will occur • The degree of risk to be taken should never exceed that determined by the humanitarian importance of the problem to be solved

  14. The Nuremberg Code • Proper preparation should be made-protect the research subjects against injure, or death • Research should be conducted only by scientifically qualified persons • During research the subjects should be at liberty to bring the research to the end • Research must be ready to terminate the research at any stage if there is possibility to hurt research subjects

  15. IRB • Data: Anonymous _ Confidential __ Intentionally identified___ • If anonymous or confidential, describe how anonymity or confidentiality will be maintained (e.g., coded to a master list and separated from data, locked cabinet, office, restricted computer, etc.). List all sites where data might be stored.

  16. IRB • Who will have access to the data? Please be specific_____________ • Will video tapes ___ audio tapes ___ photographs ___ be taken? • If yes, where will tapes or photographs be stored? • When will all research materials be destroyed?

  17. IRB • How will subjects be selected or recruited and how will subjects be approached (or contacted)? • Describe any potential risks to the subjects, and describe how you will minimize these risks. These include stress, discomfort, social risks (e.g., embarrassment), legal risks, invasion of privacy, and side effects

  18. Social Science Experiments • Social research might also put subjects at risk • Three social scientific studies are cited most often • Laud Humphrey’s “Tearoom Trade” (1970) • Stanley Milgram’s “Obedience to Authority” (1974) • Philip Zimbardo’s simulated prison experiment (1972-1974)

  19. Laud Humphreys and the Tearoom Sex Study • He stationed himself in "tearooms" and offered to serve as "watchqueen" • He was able to gain the confidence of some of the men he observed, disclose his role as scientist, and persuade them to tell him about the rest of their lives and about their motives • Humphreys secretly recorded the license numbers of their cars • A year later and carefully disguised, Humphreys appeared at their homes claiming to be a health-service interviewer and interviewed them about their marital status, race, job, and so on.

  20. Humphreys' findings destroy many stereotypes • 54% of his subjects were married and living with their wives • 38% were neither bisexual nor homosexual: they were men whose marriages were marked with tension • 24 % were clearly bisexual, happily married, well educated, economically quite successful, and exemplary members of their community • Another 24 % were single and were covert homosexuals • Only 14 % of Humphreys' subjects were members of the gay community and were interested in primarily homosexual relationships

  21. Stanley Milgram’s “Obedience to Authority” • Psychologist at Yale University, conducted a study focusing on the conflict between obedience to authority and personal conscience • Germans are different • Character flaw “Readiness to obey authority without question, no matter what outrageous acts authority commands” • Everything in the experiment was staged except one person-subject • Milgram changed a lot in his initial script because people were obeying too much

  22. Experiment “Learner” is taken to a room where he is strapped in a chair to prevent movement and an electrode is placed on his arm. The "teacher" is instructed to read a list of two word pairs and ask the "learner" to read them back. If "learner" gets the answer wrong, the "teacher" is supposed to shock the "learner" starting at 15 volts

  23. Experiment The generator has 30 switches ranging from "slight shock" to "danger: severe shock“ The final two switches are labeled "XXX“ The "teacher" automatically is supposed to increase the shock each time the "learner" misses a word in the list. The "learner" was an actor who was never actually harmed

  24. Results • “Two-thirds of this study participants fall into the category of ‘obedient' subjects, and that they represent ordinary people drawn from the working, managerial, and professional classes • 65% of all of the "teachers" punished the "learners" to the maximum 450 volts • No subject stopped before reaching 300 volts

  25. Results • The theory that only the most severe monsters on the sadistic fringe of society would submit to such cruelty is disclaimed

  26. Ethical issues of Milgram’s experiment • Milgram made a judgment about there is no possible psychological damage to the subjects • Milgram interviewed subjects afterwards • 83% said they were glad to participate • 1.3% said they were sorry • However, Milgram could not know that only 1.3% would be sorry

  27. Zimbardo’s simulated prison experiment • Subjects –males, undergraduate, paid volunteers • Role of either guard or prisoner • Mock prison was constructed in the basement of Stanford university • Experiment was to have lasted for two weeks but Zimbardo cancelled the study after 6 days because of possible harm

  28. What went wrong? • Individuals became carried away with their roles • Guards behaved aggressively and dehumanizing toward prisoners • Prisoners behaved ether passively or were hostile • Subjects did consent to participate in the study, but they did not expect the consequences