Research Ethics

Research Ethics

Research Ethics Dr Natasha Whiteman Department of Media and Communication University of Leicester [email protected] Today Why do we care about research ethics? Key ethical principles in research

Unsettling ethical rules Implications of ethics for your own work. What do we mean by research ethics? Ethics ethical principles as applied to the activity of research Risk i.e. risks of research activity to safeguard the safety of yourself and others Legal frameworks and codes of practice Relevant to ALL researchers across the

sciences, social sciences and humanities. Why behave ethically? As researchers we have a responsibility to behave ethically (to be fair to not cause harm to others.. etc) To protect the rights of individuals, communities and environments involved in research To assure favourable climate of public trust for continued research To meet public demands for accountability and legal

codes of responsible behaviour Ethics in a changing academic context Contemporary codes of research ethics emerge from ethical frameworks developed to protect human subjects in biomedical research. Increasing bureaucratisation and institutionalisation of research ethics in the social sciences Move away from the expert authority of individual researcher

Introduction of ethics committees in UK higher education institutions, similar to Institutional Review Boards in the US Increasing surveillance of research activity perverse consequences of ethical regulation (Dingwall, 2008, 5) What this means for you All student research is required to gain ethical approval before starting.

Ethics review is required to ensure that the research conforms to the ethical standards expected by the Institute. It is also used to assist supervisors and students when reflecting upon ethical research practice. When student research involves particularly complicated or sensitive ethical issues, it can be referred by the reviewers to the IOE REC. http://www.ucl.ac.uk/srs/research-ethics-co mmittee/pages/ioe Ethics and the Process of Research

Data analysis Research question Sampling Literature reviewing Data collection

Data Management Dissemination Writing To whom are we ethically responsible as researchers?

Our participants Our sponsors The University The general public Ourselves ETHICAL PRINCIPLES IN SOCIAL SCIENCE RESEARCH

Key terminology relating to research ethics

Human Subject Respect Informed consent Right to Withdraw Privacy: Confidentiality and Anonymity Disclosure Vulnerability Human participants The voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely

essential. This means that the person involved should have legal capacity to give consent; should be so situated as to be able to exercise free power of choice, without the intervention of any element of force, fraud, deceit, duress, over-reaching, or other ulterior form of constraint or coercion; and should have sufficient knowledge and comprehension of the elements of the subject matter involved, as to enable him to make an understanding and enlightened decision. This latter element requires that, before the acceptance of an affirmative decision by the experimental subject, there should be made known to him the nature, duration, and purpose of the experiment; the

method and means by which it is to be conducted; all inconveniences and hazards reasonably to be expected; and the effects upon his health or person, which may possibly come from his participation in the experiment. The duty and responsibility for ascertaining the quality of the consent rests upon each individual who initiates, directs or engages in the experiment. It is a personal duty and responsibility which may not be delegated to another with impunity. (1947 Nuremberg Code.) What is a human subject?

What is the difference between a subject and an object? Human Subjects a living individual about whom an investigator conducting research obtains data through intervention or interaction with the individual, or Identifiable private information (US Department of Health and Human services) Human participants (or subjects) are defined as

including living human beings, human beings who have recently died (cadavers, human remains and body parts), embryos and foetuses, human tissue and bodily fluids, and human data and records (such as, but not restricted to medical, genetic, financial, personnel, criminal or administrative records and test results including scholastic achievements). (ESRC, 2005, 7) Informed Consent Informed consent refers to the idea that research participants should always be

provided with enough information to make an informed decision about whether or not they want to take part in your study. Consent to take part in a research project should be voluntary, informed and obtained without duress Voluntary Informed Consent The Right to Withdraw Participants have the right to withdraw from the project including after the data has been collected

They should be informed of this right Any attempt to convince a participant not to withdraw should be carefully considered to ensure that no coercion or duress is being used The possibility of a withdrawal after data collection should be considered in the planning stage to ensure that such an occurrence would not have a serious detrimental effect on the project Informed consent guidance It is expected that informed consent will be

gained from all participants in research. The IOE REC will request to see information sheets and consent forms when you submit your application. If you do not intend to use these documents then this will need to be addressed in your ethics application. http://www.ucl.ac.uk/srs/research-ethicscommittee/pages/ioe Voluntary Informed Consent Questions to consider: Is the participant competent to make their own

decision regarding participation? Are the participants free to choose to participate or not to participate? Have the participants sufficient information to make this decision? Do the participants fully understand this information? Working with Children Legal aspects: Children defined as anyone under 18 years

of age One key ethical question: From Whom do we obtain consent? Child consent? Parental consent? Gatekeeper consent? Consent from Children In line with article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which requires that children who are capable of forming their own views should be

granted the right to express them freely in all matters affecting them, commensurate with their age and maturity, it is expected that efforts should be made to obtain informed consent from children involved in any research Research Concerning Children and Young People, http://www2.le.ac.uk/institution/committees/research-ethi cs/research-concerning-children-and-young-people-guid elines When Might Informed Consent Not

Be Appropriate? Observation in public places Research necessitating deception Covert research Using data in the public domain Rights, Interests, Dignity and Safety of Participants and Related Persons Participants rights need to be considered throughout the research not just at the beginning.

This includes the dissemination stage, when you are writing up your research. Participants should be protected from undue risk Participants should be protected from physical and psychological harm Confidentiality and Anonymity Confidentiality exists when only the researchers are aware of the participants identities and have promised not to reveal those identities to anyone else

Anonymity means that there is no way individual participants can be identified from any of the data or information collected from them in the research Confidentiality and Anonymity Questions to think about: What procedures or practical steps are you taking to ensure the both anonymity and confidentiality are preserved? Will data be stored electronically in coded form or with participant names attached?

Will hard copies of questionnaires be retained with respondents names if so how securely will they be stored? Who will have access to the data? Data Protection Act (1998) Relates to the processing of personal data (information) about individuals Collecting data only collect data that there is a legitimate research reason for collecting fair and for a specified purpose

Handling data - Process and store data about individuals only with their consent Informedconsent why collecting data? for what purpose? how will it be stored? who will have access? will it be published? Disclosure - Do not disclose personal data about identified individuals to other people without their permission Personal data on individuals should not be stored or archived any longer than is necessary for legitimate research reasons

Disclosure On occasions a researcher may unexpectedly observe illegal behaviour or behaviour that is likely to be harmful to the participants or others In these cases, the researcher must consider carefully whether to disclose this information to the appropriate authorities In so far as possible, researchers should inform participants and/or their guardians of their intention to disclose and the reasons for this

ETHICAL CODES OF PRACTICE Ethical codes and guidelines Answering ethical questions can be difficult

There are not always right answers Responses depend on individuals Need to weigh the benefits of our research against negative costs to individual participants Action is also shaped by professional guidelines on ethical research practice concerning privacy, confidentiality and anonymity Individual principles and rules do not provide the answer but can provide a framework for thinking about ethical dilemmas and defending decisions

Commitment to a Code of Ethics will ensure that all research is conducted according to the following concerns: To respect the autonomy of individuals To avoid causing harm To treat people fairly To act with integrity To use resources as beneficially as possible http://www.ioe.ac.uk/about/documents/About_Policies/Researchethics.pdf

Ethics guidelines British Sociological Association Statement of Ethical Practice (2002) British Educational Research Association Ethical guidelines for educational research (2004) What similarities/differences can you identify between these two codes of practice? Internet research

The Internet and Ethical Uncertainty To what extent are ethical principles established in the study of offline environments relevant to the study of online sites? What is the role/responsibility of researchers in these new environments What is the status of data sourced from these settings? Legal/institutional responses.

The Internet is not one thing Recognition of the diverse nature of online environments Variance between environments in respect of:

public/privateness modes of communication visibility of participation durability of content sensitivity of topic/content expectations of use/audience Complexity of individual environments Example: Facebook Potentially sensitive content

Houses personal information Connection between online profiles and offline subjects Complex status in terms of public/private distinction semi-public environment: involves membership and requires registration but open to all (Elm 2009) Access to profiles tailored through privacy settings Users confusion about privacy settings and anticipated audience Other parties observing/using content (journalists, law

enforcement) Issues relating to the ownership of content Users grant the site an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license to use their personal information. Environment in process: eg Introduction of news feed (2006) Consent should be sought from participants before involving them in

research Obtaining informed consent from participants within online environments may prove disruptive to the researched community. From whom should we seek consent? Owners? Moderators? Individual members? Does our research involve human subjects? Representations or People? (White, 2002) Textual approaches to online activity. Challenging the dominance of a spatial paradigm for

understanding the internet (Basset and ORiordan, 2002, 236). Do we need to obtain consent?? Facebook profiles. tweets Postings to a publicly accessible forums Medical support groups? Football fan sites? YouTube videos, featuring under-18s who

are identified in the films, and are shown to be promoting illegal activity. Permission should be sought to enter closed spaces for the purpose of research What counts as a closed space online? Not an either/or issue Degrees or layers of publicness (boyd) Distinction between technical and

perceived markers of privacy Technical = focus on access (Passwords? Invitations to enter? Gatekeepers?) Perceived = focus on expectations of participants Anonymising research subjects is important to protect privacy Attributing authorship may be as important as protecting privacy Naming/crediting sources common within humanities research

Evidence that some online participants would expect to be credited if their posts are used. What is our role as researchers? To protect and/or to educate? Entering into complex environments Who else is observing these settings? Marketing, journalists, law enforcement, bots etc.. Should researchers support misguided

expectations of the privacy/publicness of online environments? Implications for your work What ethical issues might arise in your research? Informed consent

Research relationships Power dynamics in relationship between researcher and researched Insider research (including conflict of interest/values) Research topic/population Sensitive topics Vulnerable groups

Research Methods Negotiating access (gatekeepers) Covert observation/deception Intrusive interventions Risk of harm to participants (including stress, anxiety or humiliation)

Data collection, archiving and management Confidentiality and data protection Records of personal or confidential nature. Dissemination and Publishing To Finish Things to consider before and

during research Your own motivations Eg how could your links to sponsors, personal convictions or career aspirations produce conflicts of interest? Consent Do you have informed consent? Necessary elements: information; understanding; voluntariness; competence of potential participants; actual consent.

Confidentiality Who has access to your data? How will it be stored? What will happen after research is completed? How are you going to inform your informants of confidentiality Things to consider before and during research Harm Could your research cause physical, psychological, cultural,

financial, legal or environmental damage? How easily can participants withdraw from the research after it begins? Have similar studies been done before? Dissemination and feedback Are results available and comprehensible to participants? Could they be misinterpreted or misused? Who owns the results? You? Your sponsor? Cultural awareness Have you considered the personality, rights, beliefs and ethical

views of your researched individuals/communities? Would you wish to be treated as you are treating your research participants? Dr Natasha Whiteman [email protected]

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