View imageResearch, primarily psychological research, goes hand in hand with ethics. Ethics come up when dealing with confidentiality, researcher-participant relationships, recording/monitoring behavior without consent, and deception. When is it okay to not tell the whole truth to participants in cases of blind-studies? Where is it, even if it is for the sake of research, do we draw the line?
Money & Relationships
Is it okay to offer money or some other incentive to participants to take a survey? Ethically, probably not but why would you want to limit your participants to people who are just looking to make a quick buck? Now your pool is no longer random sampling. Relationships are harder to gauge what is ethical and what is not. In some studies, focus groups or interviews are need to gain qualitative responses. Still, researchers need to remain impartial and not intimately involved in order to receive accurate results.
Confidentiality & Privacy
Confidentiality means not releasing any personal information about the participants. Anonymity means not linking participants in ant way to your study. Consent forms and debriefing must take place before any study is conducted. If not, you may not have just an ethical issue on your hands but a legal one as well.
Honesty Vs. Deception
Honesty sometimes is not the best policy. In some cases, revealing the whole nature of the study can affect and weaken the whole design. The professional code of ethics states that deception can be allowed at times as long as the participants are not harmed, and the deception is admitted immediately following the end of the study.
Ethics in research is usually shades of gray. It is hard to pinpoint what is right and what is wrong. Before every study, researchers should ask themselves: how are we protecting the confidentiality of the participants? Have we outlined specifically what will happen to participants as part of the trial? What can't we tell them? Is this harmful to them? Answer these questions and take a step back to make sure you are upholding your ethical duties as a researcher, then you can begin.
To learn more about ethics in research: http://explorable.com/ethics-in-research.html