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Ethical Considerations

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❶Therefore, researchers should seriously consider the potential impact they may have on the participants and vice versa, and details of such interactions should be clearly mentioned in research proposals

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The use of an IRB also helps to protect the institution and the researchers against potential legal implications from any behavior that may be deemed unethical. Examples of some of these issues include voluntary participation and informed consent. These principles are followed to guarantee that all human subjects are choosing to participate of their own free will and that they have been fully informed regarding the procedures of the research project and any potential risks.

Ethical standards also protect the confidentiality and anonymity of the subjects. Review the following slideshow to begin understanding the key ethical considerations for researchers and the history of ethical issues in research. This slideshow is a comprehensive discussion of ethical issues that researchers may face and provides definitions of key terminology for new researchers. This slideshow includes the use of case studies to illustrate many of these considerations. The following video discusses all types of ethical considerations in research including use of human subjects, consent, plagiarism, guiding principles, and so forth.

The following website discusses common codes and policies regarding ethics in research. Ethics in Research - The Web Center for Social Research Methods - Some of the key terminology associated with research ethics are described on this site, as well as a brief history of ethical considerations in research.

Ethics in Research and Publication - This website is a comprehensive set of resources that are helpful in learning examining and learning about ethical issues in research.

The site contains webcasts, PDFs, examples, links to other sites and numerous other resources. It covers a broad range of topics including plagiarism, conflict of interest, scientific misconduct, and many other topics relating to research ethics. Ethics in Research - There are many ethical considerations when conducting research. This presentation defines and describes various types of ethical misconduct and gives examples. What is an IRB and its Purpose?

What is the purpose of an IRB and how does a researcher know when they need to use it? Ethics Video Series - This series of eight YouTube videos looks at all types of ethical considerations relating to research and publishing. This pin will expire , on Change. This pin never expires.

Select an expiration date. About Us Contact Us. Search Community Search Community. Ethical Considerations The purpose of this module is to overview ethical issues that should be considered when designing and conducting research.

Describe the purpose of the the Institutional Review Board. List and explain the ethical issues that must be considered when using human subjects. The ethics of educational research Vol. Ethical Issues in Online Course Design: Negotiating Identity, Privacy, and Ownership.

Selected Papers of Internet Research , 3. As there is no statistical analysis in qualitative studies, the researcher has to both evaluate what he or she observes and to interpret it. Providing researchers with the necessary skills and applying stringent supervision can lead to better extraction of reliable information from qualitative studies.

This article presents a debate in order to illustrate how researchers could cover the ethical challenges of qualitative studies and provide applicable and trustworthy outcomes. Researchers face ethical challenges in all stages of the study, from designing to reporting.

It seems of paramount importance that health care providers, educators and clinicians be well informed of all the different aspects of their roles when acting as qualitative researchers. Hence, these adroit roles need to be well defined, and the use of practical guidelines and protocols in all stages of qualitative studies should be encouraged.

In the recent millennium, the constant trend of change in the demands of the community as well as transforming the trend of knowledge production has highlighted the necessity for researchers to adopt a more comprehensive approach.

Increasingly, many academic disciplines are utilizing qualitative research QR as the qualitative method investigating the why and how of the process of a developed concept 1 , 2. Qualitative research is sometimes defined as interpretive research, and as interpretations can be incorrect or biased, the findings may be controversial 3. Qualitative studies tend to use methods that result in text production rather than numerical outputs.

Given that the researcher is considered to be the research instrument, and the plan of inquiry needs to be developed and altered as the study progresses, a qualitative researcher cannot depend upon traditional approaches to address certain concerns such as bias and credibility. Therefore, learning from a series of mistakes is often considered an integral part of qualitative research 5 , 6. Authors of the present article endeavor to shine a light on the ethical issues affecting researchers and propose strategies to face the ethical challenges of qualitative studies, so as to provide applicable and trustworthy outcomes.

This could be the basis for the formulation of specific ethical guidelines in this regard. Up to the s, qualitative research was solely employed by anthropologists and sociologists. During the s and s, however, it was favored by various disciplines and experts of different branches of science and humanity such as health care, psychology , nursing, management, political science , education, and communication studies 2 , 7.

Qualitative research has been conducted in the field of nursing in order to identify, describe and explain related concepts, experiences and phenomena and to develop the nursing knowledge.

Nursing professionals simultaneously introduced qualitative research to their peers. Since , qualitative research has been performed to achieve the concepts of patient care and other main perceptions in the nursing profession. Qualitative studies provide nurses with sensitivity to the lived experiences of individuals from different nursing care aspects 4 , 8.

In the case of nurses who perform qualitative research, ethical issues are raised when the nurse-patient relationship in the research area leads to some degree of therapeutic communication for the participants 9. In qualitative studies researchers are often required to clarify their role in the research process In the QR procedure the researcher is involved in all stages of the study from defining a concept to design, interview, transcription, analysis, verification and reporting the concepts and themes.

Therefore, whenever instruments are involved in qualitative research, a human being will be an integral part of the process Nevertheless, researchers need to improve the abilities that make them appropriate human instruments and consequently, their interpersonal skills are of major importance in natural settings and study processes Table 1 13 , The relationship and intimacy that is established between the researchers and participants in qualitative studies can raise a range of different ethical concerns, and qualitative researchers face dilemmas such as respect for privacy, establishment of honest and open interactions, and avoiding misrepresentations Ethically challenging situations may emerge if researchers have to deal with contradicting issues and choose between different methodological strategies in conflict arises.

Some important ethical concerns that should be taken into account while carrying out qualitative research are: For health care practitioners, confidentiality means that no personal information is to be revealed except in certain situations.

For researchers, however, the duty of confidentiality is less clear and involves elaboration of the form of outcome that might be expected from the study 22 , The researcher must endeavor to minimize the possibility of intrusion into the autonomy of study participants by all means. When highly sensitive issues are concerned, children and other vulnerable individuals should have access to an advocate who is present during initial phases of the study, and ideally, during data gathering sessions.

It is sometimes even necessary that the researcher clarify in writing which persons can have access to the initial data and how the data might be used 24 , Informed consent has been recognized as an integral part of ethics in research carried out in different fields.

For qualitative researchers, it is of the utmost importance to specify in advance which data will be collected and how they are to be used Clarifications need to include the following issues: Informed consent naturally requires ongoing negotiation of the terms of agreement as the study progresses Therefore, qualitative health researchers need to clarify that the research they carry out will benefit science and can contribute to the improvement of health policy 5.

The qualitative method is utilized to explain, clarify and elaborate the meanings of different aspects of the human life experience. Obviously, sometimes a conflict between the right to know defended on the basis of benefits to the society and the right of privacy advocated based on the rights of the individual may happen 27 , There are several effective strategies to protect personal information, for instance secure data storage methods, removal of identifier components, biographical details amendments and pseudonyms applicable to names of individuals, places and organizations Researchers have the responsibility of protecting all participants in a study from potentially harmful consequences that might affect them as a result of their participation.

It is getting increasingly common for research ethics committees to seek documented proof of consent in a written, signed, and ideally, witnessed form. Furthermore, in investigations of sensitive topics where written consent puts the informants at risk, audio recorded oral consent would be more appropriate Development of personal relationships with participants may be inevitable while collecting certain data.

Therefore, researchers should seriously consider the potential impact they may have on the participants and vice versa, and details of such interactions should be clearly mentioned in research proposals Overall, the role of the researcher as a stranger, b visitor, c initiator, d insider-expert or other should be well defined and explained 3.

As Brenner quoted Kvale state that, preparing an ethical protocol can cover issues in a qualitative research project from planning through reporting In qualitative research, data are collected with a focus on multifaceted interviews and narratives to produce a description of the experiences. The researchers, therefore, play the role of a mediator between the experiences of the respondents and the community of concerned people 28 , The post-interview comment sheet could assist the researcher to note the feelings of informants, as well as interpretations and comments that occurred during the interview Data collection needs to be as overt as possible, and findings should be recorded.

Although there is no guarantee of absolute confidentiality, openly recording field notes assists participants to decide what they wish to have on the record. In health care research, the problem may be even more exaggerated as the researcher is sometimes the health provider as well In comparison with other research methods, ethnography has singular characteristics. When a researcher aims to study the culture of certain people, living amongst them is inevitable. This method of collecting data is a subject of debate from an ethical point of view.

Long presence of the researcher amongst people of a particular culture necessitates informed consent. Participants should always be aware of the information that has been obtained and is being recorded, and consent to it. Sometimes this cannot be achieved easily and conflicts may happen, as in studies of cultural and ethnic characteristics The physical presence of the researchers within the culture requires them to be responsible for their role and potential consequences on the field.

For instance, when criminals or a group of war veterans suffering from a disease are the subject of a study, the risks involved in living amongst them should be considered.

Ethnographers must be vigilant about any distractions stemming from close interactions that can be potentially harmful to participants in the long run 33 , Researchers can benefit from supervision sessions directed at learning, mentoring and skill development, all of which can foster their ability to carry out research without risking their health. Adequate professional supervision which may be outside of the university can be of service to researchers in dealing with the potential stress associated with the study 35 — In order to gain explicit data, ethnographers need to know the role of instrument details.

There are eleven steps defined in ethnography which are meant to assist researchers. These steps include participant observation, ethnographic record, descriptive observation, taxonomic analysis, selected observation, componential analysis, discovering the cultural theme, cultural inventory, and finally writing ethnography 38 , Researchers should always be aware of the precise reason for involvement in a study in order to prevent undesirable personal issues.

The probability of exposure to vicarious trauma as a result of the interviews needs to be evaluated. Interviewers should be properly scheduled to provide the researcher with sufficient recovery time and reduce the risk of emotional exhaustion, while allowing ample time for analysis of the objective and emotional aspects of the research. It is also necessary for the researcher to be familiar with signs of extreme fatigue and be prepared to take necessary measures before too much harm is done 40 — In qualitative studies, researchers have a great responsibility and play many different roles.

It is argued that qualitative research that deals with sensitive topics in depth can pose emotional and other risks to both participants and researchers. Clear protocols for dealing with distress should be in place so that both parties involved in research can use them if necessary. It is not usually easy to predict what topics are likely to lead to distress, and researchers should therefore receive sufficient training in predicting traumatic situations.

Preventive measures for researchers who carry out sensitive qualitative studies should include official arrangements for a peer support program consisting of a list of researchers who are involved, or a constellation of researcher support activities aiming at improving psychological fitness in the form of a professional confidence building module.

Other such measures include offering adequate supervision to provide opportunities for self-development and self-care, and facilitating the process of self-reflection and self-monitoring.

Strategies for emotional distancing need to be considered and adopted if the research topic or participants have the potential to be emotionally challenging. An appropriate planning should be in place before the commencement of the fieldwork, and it must be perfectly clear how the study should be conducted and what level of relationship development is necessary. Measures must also be taken so that levels of self-disclosure, objective displays of emotion during the interviews, and strategies to end the relationships are well defined and communicated.

One of the most prominent tasks of qualitative researchers is to minimize the flaws in observation and endeavor to gain truthful knowledge. Therefore, it is necessary for researchers to continuously update their investigation skills in terms of methodology and find novel techniques to better carry out studies in the field of health and sociology. As explained before, qualitative research is carried out in natural settings, which requires researchers to work in close collaboration with other members of the team and under direct supervision to discuss and resolve issues as they arise.

Therefore, development of practical strategies and communicating them to researchers can be of great benefit and assist them in conducting more perceptive qualitative studies. As a result of the extensive body of research in the field of medical sciences, patients comprise a large proportion of the public who are frequently subjects of studies. In the history of social and medical science, there have been a few research studies that seriously injured people, and many more in which their welfare was not sufficiently protected.

Nations and research associations have taken steps to prevent hurtful and intrusive research. To return to the matter of privacy, the researcher should not rely solely on the informant to identify possible intrusion, but needs to work at anticipating it in advance.

Investigators should refrain from soliciting private information that is not closely related to the research question. Considering the aforementioned challenges, it is recommended to conduct further research in order to provide meticulous and explicit ethical protocols, guidelines and codes with respect to qualitative studies.

The authors would like to offer special thanks to Dr. Ali Tootee for his assistance in the language editing of this article.


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In planning and conducting research, as well as in reporting research findings, experi-menters have to fulfill several obligations in order to meet the ethical standards set forth by the APA. First, the research project must be planned so that the chance for misleading results is minimized.

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Results: The major ethical issues in conducting research are: a) Informed consent, b) can critically change previous considerations about choices and actions.1 It is said that ethics is the branch of philosophy which deals with the dynamics of decision making.

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Ethical Considerations can be specified as one of the most important parts of the research. Dissertations may even be doomed to failure if this part is missing. According to Bryman and Bell ()[1] the following ten points represent the most important principles related to ethical considerations. 2 Ethical Considerations in Research Methodologies for Exposure Assessment of Toxic and Radioactive Contaminants in Native Communities I. Introduction.

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Identify the issues in research that directly affect the “privacy” of an individual. Define “deception” and the rationale for why it may be used in a research study. Distinguish between ethical considerations in quantitative and qualitative research. Understand the role of institutional review boards in monitoring ethics in research. Research Ethics Prashant V. Kamat On Being a Scientist: Third Edition Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy, National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine “Ethical problems in academic research.