Research Methods, Notes 4 -- Ethics
B. Your obligations as a researcher.
A. An example: Go over Milgram.
B. Compare it to APA standards:
1. The investigator is responsible for ethics. This
an assessment of risks and a judgment that the research has some value.
2. Participants should be volunteers (nobody should be forced
to participate). This is especially problematic when dealing with
patient populations, children, prisoners, or students.
3. Participants should give informed consent. They should
know in advance what is expected of them and what will happen.
that this is difficult because if they know everything, then you can't
do the experiment because they know too much. You want to tell
all you can without crossing the line. This problem will rear its
head in just about any experiment. Look at the sample informed
consent document to see what's involved.
4. Participants have the right to stop at any time without losing
any credit or reward earned up until that time. You can't tell
things like “You must continue.” If they want out, that's it.
5. You should do no harm. Participants should be in the
same condition after your experiment that they were in before.
precautions should be taken to prevent hurting them.
6. Debriefing. Participants should be told after the
exactly what they did and what you were looking for. If they have
questions, you have to answer them. If any harm was done, you
to correct it. A sample debriefing form
is also available.
7. Confidentiality/Anonymity. Participants have the right
to be anonymous and to have their name kept separate from any data they
produce. You're not allowed to identify a participant by name in
association with that participant's data. You also shouldn't list
anyone who participated as a participant.
8. Special problem: Deception. Sometimes, in order
to do what you want to do you have to deceive participants. But,
that violates the principles above. In this case, you have to
the value of the experiment against the costs. To the extent that
it's possible, deception should be minimized. Why is it such a
problem? Most of the good questions require it.
Eyewitness testimony. But, if everyone is suspicious, we can't do
good psychology (maybe worse than not deceiving).
C. Were all of these followed in your previous research
experience (get some people to talk about studies they were in)?
D. Another example (that has methodological as well as ethical
significance). The design is similar to Rosenthal (1966):
happens to the results of an experiment when the experimenter has an
in mind? We get some students and tell them that we're
recent work on the relationship between race and IQ. Then we give
each of them a hypothesis to work with (give me some). The thing
is, none of these people are experimenters. The real test is to
if the data they collect confirms their hypothesis. What are some
possible ethical problems with this research design?
III. Your obligations as a researcher. There are
also things you as the researcher are obligated to do:
1. Do not plagiarize.
2. Do not fake data.
3. Report expectations and results honestly.
Research Methods Notes 4
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