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Ethics in Research and Communications

Ethics in Research and Communications

Posted on Oct 2017

In the contemporary society, any concerns that relate to ethical practices will adversely affect attitudes about science. Ethics has turned out to be a foundation for carrying out effective as well as meaningful research. Therefore, the ethical behavior of researchers is under unique scrutiny. When people think of ethics, they think about rules that differentiate between right and wrong. Human research might be carried out only with ethical approval. Researchers have inquiring minds that compel them to advance in the development as well as dissemination of new knowledge (Jeffrey, 2008). However, the concern becomes a matter if it is ethical to carry out the research in addition to if it is unethical to participate in inquiry. All researchers have the responsibility to safeguard the participants during an investigation. According to Beyleveld, Townend & Wright (2005), researchers should be concerned about the welfare and safety of the individuals or groups who they work with. It is imperative for educational researchers to respect the rights, dignity, as well as privacy of their research population. This paper will look into the ethical considerations that relate to conducting research.

Informed Consent: in research studies, consent refers to the process by which an individual might decide whether or not take part in a study. The task of a researcher is to make sure that participants in a study have a complete comprehension of the purpose as well as the methods that are going to be utilized in the study, the types of risks that are involved, and the demands that are placed upon them if they participate (Smith, 2006). The participant in a study should as well comprehend that he/she has a right to pull out of the study at any time. From a legal stance, informed consent entails three elements: voluntariness, capacity, and information. There are two types of consents; direct and substitute consents. In the direct consent, an agreement is acquired directly from the individual to be involved in a research study. On the other hand, substitute consent is provided by a person other than the one who will be involved in the research study. Substitute consent can be obtained in case it is determined that the individual does not possess the ability to make this decision, or if he is dependent on others, for instance, children. Nevertheless, both direct as well as substitute consent should meet the informed consent’ requirements.

Avoid causing harm: researchers have a duty of not causing harm to the participants in a study. It is therefore imperative that a researcher(s) judge about the acceptability levels of harm. It is an ethical consideration for a researcher not to do anything that might cause either emotional or physical harm to his/her subjects. Therefore, researchers ought to take rational steps to avoid harming their subjects during the research process (Sales & Folkman, 2010). In case a researcher becomes aware that particular research procedures are harmful to participant(s), he/she should take reasonable steps to reduce the harm. Participants in a research study possess the right to be informed on the probable risks entailed in the research in addition to potential effects for participants. The participants in a research ought to be made aware about the boundaries on the protection that may be offered, and the efforts to provide protection even in circumstances where complete confidentiality cannot be assured. The most fundamental concern in every research study is that no person is harmed by being a participant as suggested by codes of ethics (Jeffrey, 2008). In the perspective of research ethics, harm might be generally defined to consist of extreme physical pain, but as well entails factors such as psychological stress, humiliation, or myriad influences that can harmfully influence the participants in a substantial way.

Privacy: the value that is attached to personal privacy is very significant during the research process. Privacy has turned out to be a right that is highly valued in the modern Western society. Educators and social scientist collect as well as analyze data relating to people (Mauthner, 2012). This is where the goals of a research study and the right towards privacy might come into conflict. Research studies are aimed at finding information that relates to attitudes, opinions, behavior, and beliefs. Therefore, pursuance of science’ goals protecting against unnecessary invasion of the privacy of the participants offer complex issues. As with ethical considerations, privacy is becoming a progressively valued right. Searching privacy is an action of confidentiality or seclusion. Complete privacy is almost non-existent, and individuals are occasionally required to yield a particular level of privacy for many reasons (Häyry, Takala, & Herissone-Kelly, 2007). In other cases, privacy is done voluntarily so as to get something in return. In considering privacy that is related to carrying out research, sensitivity should be addressed. For instance, data relating to sexual preferences signify information that most individuals would want to keep as private.

In conclusion, it is imperative for educational researchers to follow ethical considerations while carrying out research studies. Some of these ethical considerations include informed consent, avoiding causing harm, as well as maintaining privacy. All these ethical considerations are significant in conducting research.