Ethical Issues in Research Design

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I have always been interested in the ethical side of research design. In fact, I think that this is a subject that everyone should pay attention to. The main issue with research design is looking at the ethical obligations of the researchers towards their participants. They have to evaluate how far is too far, and as is with many situations like this, there is not a definite answer. There can be a very foggy line between right and wrong, and it is scientists' job to try not to cross this line.
As science advances further and further, we need to make sure that we don't lose sight of our morals. As Lilenfeld states, "Scientists have learned the hard way that their thirst for knowledge can blind them to crucial ethical considerations" (Lilenfeld 67). One example of this, as given in the book, is the Tuskgee study. This study was performed by the United States Public Health Service between 1932 and 1972 (Lilenfeld 67). The researchers wanted to study the natural progression of untreated syphilis, and they used poor African American men who thought that they were receiving free health care from the government as subjects. The African American men did not know that they had syphilis (which had an effective treatment at the time), and were not informed that they were subjects. As a result of this study, 28 men died of syphilis, 1-- died of syphilis related complications, 40 of the men's wives were infected with syphilis, and 19 children were born with syphilis (Lilenfeld 67).

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As a result of the Tuskegee study and many like it, many people started to pay more attention to human subjects' rights. Because of all of the attention, every American research college and university has at least one institutional review board (Lilenfeld 67). The IRB looks at all studies carefully to make sure that the subjects' rights are not being violated. Because of the IRB, all researchers must inform the subjects what they are doing before beginning the study.

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Today, I feel that in the United States, the rights of human subjects aren't at risk anymore, but the rights of animals need to be considered again. If animal rights interest you as well, take a look at PETA's website : http://www.peta.org/. The debate of what is right and what is wrong will be never ending. Our morals will always be challenged and put to the test, but I hope that we will be able to stay true to what is right. We don't want people reading a text book 50 years from now reading about our mistakes. Our generation needs to set a good example for those to come.

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This page contains a single entry by matzk042 published on October 2, 2011 10:08 PM.

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