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The emergence and nature of ethics guidelines.docx

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McMaster University
David Young

The emergence and nature of ethics guidelines A. Impact of controversial research conducted in the 1960s o Other than Humphreys, the other controversial study was Stanley millgrams research on obedience  Research on obedience – men were coercively pressured to send electric shocks to other men o Ethics review boards – this is now required at universities (we have one at Mac)  They examine the ethical suitability of proposed projects  At mac it is called ‘mcmaster ethics review board’ (MERB)  No prof, or student can do a research regarding a human subject without going through that board first o Ethics guidelines  Sshrc has established their own ethical guidelines  Researchers must respect the ethical guidelines for research with human subjects before receiving any funding B. Some ethical guidelines regarding the treatment of research subjects o Identify research sponsors to subjects  Research subjects have to right to know who is funding the research and who is carrying out the research  This is important as this can affect their decision of participating in the research  i.e. if the study is being funded by a private company vs. public agency o disclose basis for selection as subjects  research subjects have the right to know how they got selected for participating in the research  i.e. was the selection done randomly, or due to known characteristics o ensure voluntary participation of subjects  no one should be forced to participate in a research  however that guideline may create problems in terms of certain methods  in survey research – voluntary participation can result in a biased sample  in field research – voluntary participation is not always possible (Humphreys study is a good example of this) o avoid deceiving subjects  can create problems in particular methods  field research – you may have to deceive research subjects about their study (like the Humphreys study)  due to all the chaos in Humphreys study, only deceive subjects if necessary and even then the ethics review boards may not agree  experimental research: sometimes deceiving subjects about the purpose of the study is required  when this happens, they undergo debriefing  this is when they are informed about the real purpose of the study  also the research subjects should not be left with any doubts after the debriefing period o do not harm subjects  you may harm subjects in a few ways  (1) they can be harmed in the natural process of doing research  We have to be mindful of this and so we must help maintain their comfortable and ensure their self esteem  I.e. survey research – subjects could be harmed with very personal questions  Ethics review board may ask researchers to eliminate ver
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