ETHICALISSUES IN RESEARCH(Cont)
Ethics are norms or standards of behavior that guide moralchoices about our behavior and our
relationshipswith others. The goal of ethics in research is to ensurethat no one is harmed or suffers
adverseconsequences from researchactivities. This objective is usually achieved. However,unethical
activitiesare pervasive and includeviolating nondisclosure agreements,breaking respondent
confidentiality, misrepresenting results, deceivingpeople, invoicing irregularities,avoiding legal
liability, and more.
Deception:Deceptionoccurs when the respondentsare told only part of the truth or when the truth is
fully compromised. Some believe thisshould never occur. Otherssuggest two reasons fordeception:
(1) to prevent biasing the respondentsbefore the survey or experiment and (2) to protect the
confidentiality of a third party (e.g. the sponsor).Deception should not be used in an attempt to
Thebenefits to be gained by deceptionshould be balanced against the risks to the respondents. When
possible, an experiment or interview should be redesigned to reduce the reliance on deception. Use of
deception is inappropriate unless deceptive techniques are justified by the study's expected scientific,
educational, or applied value and equallyeffective alternatives that do not use deception arenot
feasible.And finally, the respondentsmust have given theirinformed consent beforeparticipating in
InformedConsent: Securing informed consent fromrespondents is a matter of fullydisclosing the
procedures of the proposed survey or other research design before requesting permission to proceed
with the study. There are exceptions that argue for a signed consentform. When dealing withchildren,
it is wise to have a parent or other personwith legal standing sign a consent form.
If there is a chance the data could harm the respondent or if the researchers offerany limitedprotection
of confidentiality, a signed form detailing the types of limits should be obtained.For most business
research,oral consent is sufficient.
In situations where respondents areintentionally or accidentally deceived, they should be debriefedonce
the research is complete.
It involves several activities following the collection of data:
· Explanation of any deception.
· Description of the hypothesis, goal, or purpose of the study.
· Poststudy sharing of the results.
· Poststudy follow-up medical or psychological attention.
First, the researcher shares the truth of any deception with the participants and all the reasonsfor using
deception in the context of the study's goals. In cases where severe reactions occur,follow-up medical
or psychological attention should be provided to continue to ensure the participants remain unharmed by
Evenwhen the research does not deceive the respondents, it is a good practice to offer them follow-up
information.This retains the goodwill of the respondent, providing an incentive to participate in future
research projects. For surveys and interviews,respondents can be offered a brief report of the findings.
Usuallythey would not askfor additionalinformation.
For experiments, all participants should be debriefed in order to put the experiment in context.
Debriefingusually includes a description of the hypothesis being tested and the purpose of the study.
Participants who were not deceived stillbenefit from the debriefingsession. They will be able to
understand why the experiment wascreated. The researchersalso gain important insightinto what the
participantsthought about during and after the experiment.
To what extent do debriefing and informed consent reduce the effects of deception? Research suggests
that the majority of the respondents do notresent temporary deception and may have more positive
feelingsabout the value of the researchafter debriefing than thosewho didn't participate in the study.
Rights to Privacy
All individuals have right to privacy, and researchers must respectthat right. The privacyguarantee is
importantnot only to retain validity of the research but also to protect respondents. Theconfidentiality
of the survey answers is an importantaspect of the respondents' right to privacy.
Once the guarantee of confidentiality is given, protecting thatconfidentiality is essential.
researcherprotects the confidentiality in several ways;
· Obtaining signed nondisclosure documents.
· Restrictingaccess to respondent identification.
· Revealing respondent information only withwritten consent.
· Restrictingaccess to data instruments where the respondent is identified.
· Nondisclosure of data subsets.
Privacy is more than confidentiality. A right to privacy meansone has the right to refuse to be
interviewed or to refuse to answer anyquestion in an interview. Potentialparticipants have a right to
privacy in their own homes includingnot admitting researchers and not answering telephones. To
addressthese rights, ethicalresearchers do the following:
· Informrespondents of their right to refuse to answer any questions or participate in the study.
· Obtain permission to interview respondents.
· Schedule field and phone interviews.
· Limit the time required forparticipation.
· Restrict observation to public behavioronly.
The obligation to be truthful: When a subject willingly agrees to participate, it is generally expected
that he or she will providetruthful answers. Honestcooperation is main obligation of the respondent or
Ethics and the Sponsor
Thereare also ethical considerations to keep in mind when dealing with the research client or sponsor
has the right to receive ethically conducted research.
Confidentiality of Sponsor
Somesponsors wish to undertakeresearch without revealingthemselves. They have a right to several
types of confidentiality, including sponsor nondisclosure, purpose nondisclosure, and findings
Companies have the right to dissociate themselvesfrom sponsorship of a researchproject. This type of
confidentiality is called sponsorshipnondisclosure. Due to sensitive nature of the management
dilemma or the research question,sponsor may hire an outsideconsulting or research firm to complete
researchproject. This is often done when a company is testing a newproduct idea, to avoidpotential
consumersfrom being influenced by company's current image or industrystanding.
Purposenondisclosure involvesprotecting the purpose of the study or its details. A researchsponsor
may be testing a new idea that is not yet patented and maynot want the competition to know its plans.
It may be investigating employeecomplaints and may not want to spark union activity. Finally, even if
a sponsor feels no need to hideits identity or the study's purpose, most sponsors want the research data
and findings to be confidential; at leastuntil the management decision is made. Thus sponsorsusually
demand and receive findings nondisclosure between themselves or their researchersand any interested
Right to Quality Research
An important ethical consideration is the sponsor's right to quality research.This right entails:
· Providingresearch design appropriate for the research question.
· Maximizing the sponsor's value for the resources expended.
· Providingdata handling and reporting techniques appropriate for the datacollected.
Occasionally,research specialists may be asked by the sponsors to participate in unethical behavior.
Compliance by the researcher would be a breach of ethical standards. Someexamples to be avoided
· Violating respondent confidentiality.
· Changingdata or creating false data to meet the desired objective.
· Changingdata presentation or interpretations.
· Interpretingdata from a biased perspective.
· Omittingsections of data analysis and conclusions.
· Making recommendations beyond the scope of datacollected.
Researchersand Team Members
Anotherethical responsibility of researchers is their team's safety as well as theirown. The
responsibilityfor ethical behavior restswith the researcher who,along with assistants, is charged with
protecting the anonymity of both the sponsor and the respondent.
Safety:It is the researcher's responsibility to design a project so the safety of allinterviewers,
surveyors, experimenters, or observers is protected. Several factors may be important to consider in
ensuring a researcher's right to safety.
Ethical behavior of Assistants: Researchersshould require ethicalcompliance from teammembers
just as sponsors expect ethical behaviorfrom researcher. Assistantsare expected to carry out the
samplingplan, to interview or observerespondents without bias, and to accurately record all necessary
Protection of Anonymity: Researchers and assistants should protect the confidentiality of the sponsor's
information and anonymity of the respondents. Eachresearcher handling datashould be required to
sign a confidentiality and nondisclosure statement.
Variousstandards of ethics exist for the professional researcher. Manycorporations, professional
associations,and universities have code of ethics. Thesecodes of ethic have to be enforced.
Table of Contents: