Ethics in Research

An ‘ethic’ is a moral principle or a code of conduct which … governs what people do.  It is concerned with the way people act or behave.  The term ‘ethics’ usually refers to the moral principles, guiding conduct, which are held by a group or even a profession (though there is no logical reason why individuals should not have their own ethical code)” (Wellington, 2000: 54)
l     Research ethics
‘Research ethics’ refers to the moral principles guiding research from its beginning to its completion and publication of results and beyond
Why be concerned with research ethics in the School of Education?
l     Professional responsibility – avoidance of exploitation of research participants
l     Research can be harmful:
                    to research participants
                    to individual researchers
                    to the School / University
                    to our relations with schools
                    to the research community
l     Ethical malpractice exists
l     Reducing risks to participants
(Cohen et al, 2000:51)
Protecting the rights of the participants:
l  maintaining privacy,
l  guaranteeing privacy,
l  guaranteeing confidentiality,
l  avoiding harm, betrayal, deception.
l  Good practice in Research
l  Confidentiality of information
l  Voluntary participation
l  Reducing risks to participants
l  Informed consent
l   Protection of data
l  Confidentiality of information                           (ESRC, 2005)
l  The confidentiality of information supplied by research subjects must be respected
l  The unrecognizability of respondents must be respected
l  Refer to participants by number, e.g. T1, T2 etc.
l  Refer to participants and institutions by stage names e.g. “Mr. Shakespeare”
l   (false name), e.g. “University of Stratford”
l  Voluntary participation
l  Research participants must participate in a voluntary way, free from any pressure.
l  They should be informed of their right to refuse to participate or withdraw from an investigation.

Informed consent
l  Participants must be in a position or old enough to understand the choice that they are making
l  Disclosure of purposes of research
l  A provision allowing participants to withdraw at any time
l  Disclosure of any risks to participants
l  Signed consent form (optional)
l  Protection of data
l  Data must not be released to third parties
l  Data must be kept in a secure environment
l  Data may be destroyed after the research project is completed
l  Data Protection Act
l  .
Standard ethical principles
Fully informed consent of prospective participants & Researcher should provide information about:
        the aims and nature of the research
        identity and contact details of researchers
        likely duration of research & their involvement
        who will have access to data
        how data will be stored
        possible consequences of participation and of the research
        whether participants would have right to see/amend transcripts, comment on provisional data analyses etc.
        how results are likely to be disseminated
        the extent to which confidentiality and anonymity will be protected
l  Participants’ right to withdraw from study
l  Confidentiality– while researchers know who has provided data, they should not make this known to others
l  Anonymity
l  Non-traceability
l  Protection of participants’welfare – attempt to ensure that participants are not harmed or affected by the research
l  Respect for pparticipants’ right to privacy
l  Respect for knowledge – ‘pursuit of truth’
l  Sensitivity to differences relating (for example) to age, culture, disability
l  Destroy confidential data after project is complete
l  Keep confidential data secure

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