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SOAN 2120 (129)

ethics in social research

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University of Guelph
Sociology and Anthropology
SOAN 2120
Scott Schau

Ethics in Social Research INTRODUCTION Ethics include the concerns dilemmas and conflicts that arise over the proper way to conduct research Many ethical issues ask you to balance two values the pursuit of knowledge and the rights of research participants or of others in society Ultimately ethical research depends on the integrity of an individual researcher WHY be ethical The best preparation for ethical behavior is to internalize a sensitivity to ethical concerns to adopt a professional role and to interact with other researchers Moreover the scientific community demands ethical behavior without exceptions Scientific Misconduct Scientific misconduct includes fraud and plagiarism It also includes significant departures from the generally accepted scientific practices of doing and reporting on research Research fraud occurs when a researcher fakes or invents data he or she didnt collect or fails to honestly and fully report how he or she conducted the study Power Relations Some ethical issuesinvolve an abuse of power and trust A professional researcher and the research participants or employeeassistants are in a relationship of unequal power and trust The larger research community supports ethical behavior even if the researcher is ultimately responsible to do what is ethical in specific situations ETHICAL ISSUES INVOLVING RESEARCH PARTICIPANTS More attention is focused on the possible negative effects of research on those being studied than any other ethical issue beginning with concerns about biomedical research Acting ethically requires that a researcher balance the value of advancing knowledge against the value of noninterference in the lives of othersThe law and codes of ethics recognize some clear prohibitions Never cause unnecessary or irreversible harm to subjects secure prior voluntary consent when possible and never unnecessarily humiliate degrade or release harmful information about specific individuals that was collected for research purposes Origins of Research Participant Protection The most notorious violations were medical experiments conducted on Jews and others in Nazi Germany In 1995 reports revealed that the government authorized injecting unknowing people with
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