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Chapter 3 Ethics .docx

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Sociology and Anthropology
SOAN 2120
D Walters

Ethics include the concerns, dilemmas, and conflicts that arise over the proper way to conduct research. Ethics help to define what is or is not legitimate to do, or what moral research procedure involves  Must balance the pursuit of knowledge and the rights of research participants or other in society. Must also balance potential benefits against potential costs Why be Ethical?  Scientific Misconduct: Occurs when a researcher falsifies or distorts the data or the methods of data collection, or plagiarizes the work of others. It also includes significant, unjustified departures from the generally accepted scientific practices for doing and reporting on research.  Research Fraud: occurs when a researcher fakes or invents data that he or she did not really collect, or fails to honestly and fully report how he or she conducted a study  Plagiarism: occurs when a researcher steals the ideas of writings of another or uses them without citing the source. Plagiarism also includes stealing the work of another researcher, an assistant, or a student and misrepresenting it as ones own.  Some Research is clearly unethical, but is not illegal.  A professional researcher and the research participants or employee-assistants are in a relationship of unequal power and trust. The researcher has power over the employees/participants, who give the researcher trust in return. Ethical Issues Involving Research Participants  Acting ethically requires that a researcher balance the values of advancing knowledge against the value of non-interference in the lives of others  The law of codes and ethics: o Never cause unnecessary or irreversible harm to subjects o Secure prior voluntary consent when possible, and never unnecessarily humiliate, degrade, or release harmful information about specific individuals that was collected for research purposes. Physical Harm, Psychological Abuse, and Legal Jeopardy  Physical Harm is rare. The researcher accepts moral and legal responsibility for injury due to participation in research and terminates a project immediately if he/she can no longer guarantee the physical safety of the people involved  Researchers can place people in highly stressful, embarrassing, anxiety-producing situation. They should never create unnecessary stress or stress that lacks a very clear, legitimate research purpose  A researcher is responsible for protecting research participants from increased risk of arrest. When a researcher learns of illegal activity when collecting data, they must weigh the value of protecting the relationship and the cost of harm occurring to innocent people.  If a researcher covertly observes and records illegal behaviour, then supplies this information to law-enforcement, he/she is violating ethical standard. At the same time, failing to report a crime may result in being charged as an accessory. o Examples of Ethical Controversy  Stanley Milgram’s Obedience study (caused severe guilt and emotional stress)  Laud Humphrey’s Tearoom Trade study (consent was not obtained, legal actions could have been filed against participants)  The Zimbardo Prison Experiment (physical abuse and severe mental abuse were almost inevitable) Other Types of Harm  Anxiety and discomfort  Negative impact on careers, reputations, incomes of research participants Deception  Social researchers follow the ethical principle of voluntary consent: never force anyone to participate in research, and do not lie to anyone unless it is necessary and the only way to accomplish a legitimate research purpose Informed Consent  A fundamental ethical principle of social research: never coerce anyone into participating. Participants must sign a statements giving informed consent: an agreement by participants stating they are willing to be in a study and they know something about what the research procedure will involve. Optional for most surveys and field research, but mandatory for experimental research. Contains the following o A brief description of the purpose and procedure of the research, including the expected duration of the study o A statement of any risks or discomforts expected o A guarantee of anonymity and confidentiality o The identification of the researcher and where to receive information about subject’s rights o A statement that participation is completely voluntary and can be terminated without penalty o A statements of alternative procedures that may be used o A statement of any benefits or compensation provided to subjects, and the number of subjects involved o An offer to provide a summary of findings Special Populations and New Inequalities  Special Populations: people who lack necessary cognitive competency to give valid informed consent or people in a weak position who might cast aside their freedom to refuse to participate in a study  Incompetent People: it is unethical to involve incompetent people (children, mentally disabled) in research unless
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