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Political Science 3N06 2013 L8.docx

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Political Science
Todd Alway

Political Science 3N06 2013 Lecture 8: Research Ethics General principles governing social scientific research  1. Voluntary participation o Participation in research should be voluntary  It has to be clear to the participants that they can withdraw from the experiment at any time  you will need informed consent o For participation to be truly voluntary there must be informed consent  What does participation actually entail?  What are the potential risks?  What are the potential costs?  What are the potential rewards? o Informed consent would also appear to require the avoidance of deception o there are complications with what informed consent can do to the validity of your data  How voluntary consent could be for certain types of groups o if there is a power of disparity; it could be construed as not voluntary at all o if your basing your data on voluntary participation and informed consent; it is going to come form participants willing to participate; might not be reflected on the population as whole; might lead to inaccurate answers  Consider: o Simply handing a consent sheet to marginalized communities may not be sufficient o what impact does voluntary consent have on the validity of your research o if you fully inform your participants then you might not get the data you want; you don’t state the specific research that you are trying to measure  You must ensure that each participant fully understands the nature of the consent o Where there are power differentials between the researcher and the research subject  There may be subtle types of coercion unknowingly at work o covert observation; you want to know what goes on in a private sphere – seen as unjustified by the textbook o When attempting to make people of power voluntary consent would not work o if you are studying those are powerful; but then the limitation of research might cause more public harm than public good; more complex in practice  Complications: o What effect will fully informed consent have on the nature of your observations? o There are circumstances where fully revealing the nature of the study will “influence the very phenomenon you are trying to observe” o Moreover, those who volunteer to participate may not be representative of the general population that you are interested in understanding o Finally does fully informed consent inhibit investigations of corruption and abuse of power (if you want to study those who may be guilty of either action)?  So what to do? o One text suggests that “When the norm of voluntary participation is impossible to follow, it’s all the more important that you observe the other ethical norms of research”  2. Do no Harm o Probably the most important principle o if you loose your data you might harm to some; and that could lead to physical harm o no harming those you are studying in a physical harm  What is harm? o Absolute prohibition against physical harm o But harm extends to a consideration of “emotional, social, financial, legal, and psychological” harm o These rights must be protected both during the data collection process and after the conclusion of the study  are we prohibited in researching in concepts of exploitation?  Complications? o Consider critically-oriented research that is designed to expose corruption or brutality o The publication of this research might indirectly harm the interests of those who are corrupt or brutal o Does this mean that this type of research (where the subject being studied is one that participates in the corruption/brutality) should not be conducted?  3. Privacy o Associate
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