Prepare an Ethics Paper
BTM 8103, Assignment 3
DuBose, Justin Z.
Dr. Robert Levasseur
25 March 2018
Ethics in Research
One of the most important considerations of research design is ensuring that the researcher safeguards the design, as well as the research itself, to adhere to proper ethical considerations for research. The APA Ethics Code lists five principles for research (Cozby, 2014, p. 43) observed by every researcher and built into the framework of their research. These five principles are: beneficence and nonmaleficence, fidelity and responsibility, integrity, justice, and respect for people’s rights and dignity (Cozby, 2014, p. 46).
Beneficence and nonmaleficence are principles of maximizing benefits and minimizing harmful effects of those participating in the research. Fidelity and responsibility address the need for the researcher to develop and build trust with the research subjects. Integrity is a principle of truthfulness by the researcher in not deceiving or manipulating the research in any way. The principle of justice refers to the need for the researcher to ensure, throughout their design, that the participants benefit from the study and are all treated equally in the process. Finally, respect for people’s rights and dignity means that the researcher recognizes the inherent worth of all individual participants in the research and binds them to consider their rights throughout the study and make an intentional effort to protect their rights and dignity throughout the design of the research (Cozby, 2014, p. 48).
History has demonstrated the need for ethical considerations in all forms of research. Perhaps the most prominent of all unethical research are the studies undertaken by the Nazis on concentration camp inmates and pilots of the Allied forces. Tyson (2000) describes 30 various experiments used by the Nazis, each of which subjected the participants to horribly excruciating pain and, often, death. These experiments included severing limbs from victims and attempting to attach them to another as well as subjecting victims to freezing conditions and observing the effects of such conditions on bodies.
Another example of unethical studies come from the obedience studies of Stanley Milgram. Milgram wanted to test the degree to which participants would follow orders and administer what they thought were electric shocks to a fellow participant. The participants were operating under the assumption that the voltage from these shocks were enough to be potentially fatal. Though Milgram received wide criticism for his lack of research ethics, he did create a follow-up procedure to address the risks associated with his obedience study (Blass, 2004).
These studies, among others, demonstrate the need for ethical considerations in research. Steps taken in recent decades seek to ensure that all research meet certain ethical criteria before research commences. For example, in 1974 the Belmont Report outlined three core principles required in all research: respect for persons, beneficence, and justice (Trochim, 2016, p. 40). Trochim (2016) noted that “research can be done in a way that respects and cares for the participants, maintains integrity in the process, and results in studies that are reported honestly” (p. 34). One concrete step taken by government and research institutions and organizations to ensure ethical research is the adoption of Institutional Review Boards (IRBs).
Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)
Trochim (2016) observed that “the role of local IRBs is to review all proposed research involving human subjects to ensure that subjects are going to be treated ethically and that their rights and welfare will be adequately protected” (p. 43). Dr. Linda Bloomberg, the Associate Director of Faculty Support and Development for the School of Education at Northcentral University, noted that, “IRB’s have emerged in accredited academic institutions of higher education as bureaucratic entities that are responsible for the regulation, governance, and enforcement of significant research ethics” (Bloomberg, 2017). She further noted that IRB’s possess institutional authority to approve or disapprove potential research by doctoral candidates, according to FDA regulations (Bloomberg, 2017).
Northcentral University’s Institutional Review Board must review and approve all potential research conducted by doctoral candidates of Northcentral University. The design of the program is for this research to occur during the academic course labeled “Institutional Review Board (IRB) and Data Collection,” according to the school’s academic degree plan for doctoral students.
Part of the IRB process for doctoral students includes obtaining a certification from the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) to conduct research on human subjects. The dissertation chair is also required to possess a valid CITI certificate in addition to the doctoral candidate.
Every proposal to the IRB must demonstrate that the benefits of the research outweigh the risk of conducting research. As there are always certain risks to conducting research, the researcher must forthrightly note these risks in their research proposal to the IRB. Once granted approval by the IRB, the researcher must ensure that the research closely adhere to the guidelines approved by the IRB and not vary the procedures in the process of conducting research.
Research conducted in an unethical manner has potentially devastating consequences for research participants. As a means of mitigating such risks, Northcentral, and other accredited research institutions, have IRBs in place so that research is ethical in nature and, therefore, trustworthy and credible. Doctoral students and candidates should prepare to submit and amend research proposals as required by the IRB in order to treat all human subjects with dignity and respect.
Blass, T. (2004). The man who shocked the world. New York: Basic Books.
Bloomberg, L. (2017, August 29). Supporting student researchers: Preparing for the IRB process. [Webinar presentation]. Retrieved from https://vac.ncu.edu/soe-community-forum/forum/53947/ncu-institutional-review-board-irb-doctoral-student-webinar
Cozby, P. C. (2014). Methods in behavioral research (12th ed.). Boston, MA: McGraw Hill Higher Education.
Trochim, W., Donnelly, J., & Arora, K. (2016). Research methods: The essential knowledge base (2nd ed.). Mason, OH: Cengage.
Tyson, P. (2000). The experiments. Retrieved from the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) website: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/holocaust/experiside.html
NG, LR, & NCU
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