LDS-Current Events-Ethical Issue
This assignment is regarding current events related to ethical issues with research subjects. This would require a selection of an article. An example that was used was the following by another student: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Research Integrity (2015), found that Anil Potti, M.D. falsified data in papers, grant applications, manuscripts, and research records concerning his research into additional medical applications of the drug dasatinib. According to Wikipedia, the drug is used for certain leukiemia-type cancers and was being evaluated for use in treatment of other cancers, including prostate cancer. Although most of the case summary is medical terminology, it appears Dr Potti was researching its use in treatment of lung cancer. You will see the findings against the researcher and a voluntary settlement agreed to by the researcher. My heaviest question is, what happens financially? There is no mention of the researcher being required to repay the 6 grants awarded by the Federal gevernment. With research funding being so extrememly tight, it seems to me repayment should be part of the settlement agreement.”
You create the threads for this this area. Put your subject area in: send us links in what you are finding. What outrageous things are you learning, reading about, twittering, and other places. Apply what you are learning in these discussions. What got screwed up and why? Who is responsible? These can be local, state, national, and international. (Equal opportunity to try and find some justice.)
Each class member is expected to contribute at least one current event and one Question Thread regarding a current event where there are ethical issues, social justice issues, or downright shaving the law with a razor. Enjoy and respond with knowledge AND emotion, using what you have learned.
LDS7004 Module Four Lecture Notes
This may read somewhat like a review, since we are already at
Module IV, but as you begin to form your dissertation, you must
be conscious of the many parts and subparts that present ethical
and moral issues in research. There will be rules of self,
institution, research environment, professional organization, and
perhaps even grant requirements, if you win one for your dissertation from a
private funding source, or from the federal government. In this module we discuss
the subtle differences between ethics and morality, and guidelines are presented for
conducting and presenting a variety of research suitable for a dissertation.
We are either moral or immoral. We can be both in our lives
many times. Moral is, essentially, doing the right thing,
sometimes when it is difficult or costly to do the right thing.
Immoral is knowing the difference between the right thing and
the wrong thing, and then deciding to do the wrong thing,
usually for our own personal interest, or in the interest of the company where we
may be employed. Research ethics are, therefore, principles we use to decide what
is acceptable (I prefer “good”) practice in any research project, no matter how
difficult it may be to accomplish. Research ethics frowns upon any short cuts.
Researchers must never violate the moral and legal rights of any
participant in research. A researcher may think that the work is
so important, so necessary, that the participant can be ignored,
manipulated, emotionally traumatized, or “used” with little
regard – the data becomes like some sort of voracious animal,
and the researcher’s appetite for that data takes over any concern for subjects.
Subjects need to know the standards for the research, so they can agree or
“question” or say, “no thank you” to the researcher. Good scientific practice is
ensured by the ethical codes, and it also means that whatever the researcher finds
could be trusted by the public as discovered through the best practices in serious
research. Yes, things do go wrong in research that can negate the final outcomes,
but malicious use of the variables in research can be worth millions of dollars in
investment if the data is twisted or reported in anyway to skew results to what
someone wants it to say.
Most of this has to do with working with what are called
“vulnerable” populations. Sometimes there are licensing
requirements for those collecting certain kinds of data –
therefore, not just anyone can collect data in these cases. Some
of the very best studies are the ones that whatever is found, it
will increase the knowledge base about a particular subject. We have spoken a lot
about informed consent and confidentiality, but not much on conducting research to
Common Ethical Issues within
the Dissertation Process
Rules and ethics and morality for all
• Participants have moral and legal rights.
• What are the “agreed standards” between the
researcher and the participants?
• Cling to good scientific practice in doing
• Codes are protections for the public against
fraud, cheating, and scientific skullduggery.
Ethics and Morals? Which is which?
• There is a distinction between the two —
• Morals refer to an unwritten set of values that
provide a frame of reference. We make many
of our decisions using our own moral compass
and, thus, regulate our behavior;
• Ethics is generally a written code of valued
principles that we use in context to a problem.
Research Studies and Compliance
• Comply with all levels of legal requirements;
• Comply with any and all licensing
• Commonly agreed upon international
standards – Beneficence (do positive good);
Non-malfeasance (do no harm); informed
consent; and confidentiality/anonymity
have a result of positive good in some way, and at the very least, to do no harm.
These two require clear thinking and very good research design.
This slide is very much self-explanatory; however, for the
record, I believe that all participants are vulnerable in some way,
and most good researchers think the same way. First, all
children under the age of 18 are protected – highly protected, I
might add; adults with learning and communication issues also
come under the disability protections. The elderly are protected because of age
related issues in their cognition as well as their mobility. And, there are still others.
If you need to recruit subjects in these vulnerable classifications,
you also need to think about where you will be interacting with
them. Sometimes researchers can put themselves into
dangerous situations, especially in one-to-one interviewing with
a person in a vulnerable classification. Private, unsupervised
access is never a good idea, and you should think about designing a research project
that does not require that. Good research can be done in a public place, especially
with children. These questions are just the first of eight more.
You need to tell the prospective participant as much as you can
about the study, including the logistics, dates, time of day, how
many days, if there is any compensation, what kind of
environment where the data will be collected, how long it will
take. Logistical kinds of questions are essential for a participant
to understand exactly what he or she is getting into.
There are only a few extra comments to this slide. Observational
research will require a very carefully crafted rubric that defines
exactly what you are going to be observing and how what you
are seeing and/or hearing will be coded.
The best rule is always this: You are a researcher. Think of
yourself as working for a top secret organization. Do your job
and don’t gossip about anything or anyone. Most researchers get
into trouble with this area because they engage their mouths
before they engage their brains. You are a professional at all
Deception is not a good practice and deliberate deception is
rarely used or can be justified. Withholding information is more
common. Even so, some subjects may get upset that you
withheld information and become angry or upset. If the lines
between deception and withholding information get blurred, the
researcher should rethink the design of the study to prevent this from happening.
Research Participants – Your Subjects
• This is really your first moral AND ethical
question – who do I wish to recruit. Are my
subjects classified as “vulnerable?”
• Vulnerable: All children under the age of 18;
vulnerable adults with learning or
communication disabilities; patients in
hospitals, nursing homes/assisted living, in
care within the social services networks.
Research Participants – Yourselves and
• Persons with mental illness
• Persons with addictions to illegal drugs,
alcohol, cigarettes, and food
• Criminal background checks for yourself and
any data collectors
• Other factors that must be considered once
your population is defined for research.
Consent of the subject
• Informed about the nature of the study, if at
• Parents must be informed, if using children
• Design a participant information sheet that
matches your study.
• Participants can ask questions
• If you use a questionnaire, a same of the kind
of questionnaire is appropriate to use
• Big rule to remember: Unless the subject
gives consent to being observed,
observational research can only be done
where participants would generally expect to
be observed by strangers.
• Individuals have a right to privacy.
• In today’s culture, a private place and a public
place may have to be clearly defined.
• Only used when subjects may modify behavior
if they know what the researcher is looking
for, so by giving the full explanation, no
reliable data can be collected.
• There is a difference between deception and
• Important: If a subject might be upset or
angry if information is withheld, you need to
rethink your design.
Protection of Participants
• No physical or mental harm should come to
• Participants have the right not to answer any
question, AND you must tell them that.
• No discussions of any kind of results you have
gotten from any subjects participating in the
• Subjects become numbers or letters – not
Humans are not always predictable, and every means should be used to guard
against any harm from a study.
This is another slide that does not take much more explanation.
Subjects have given of themselves and their time. Debriefing is a
good time to thank them and tell them how much you appreciate
their participation. Children may receive a small gift, such a
pencils, books, or Superhero band-aids (Who knew – they love
them!). Part of the debriefing is to obtain permission to send a summary of your
findings to your participants, after the study is completed.
Sometimes researchers think that all is under control. They have
thirty subjects, the timeframe is short, and the study is easy.
Then, something happens, and ten people either withdraw, don’t
show up, decided to make your questionnaire a scribble sheet –
the list is endless. Be aware you will lose subjects for many
reasons. Check other research of the same type you intend to do in order to get an
idea of what withdrawal numbers you might experience.
We can drown in data, but if you think about your organization
system now, this will not be difficult. Data is only stored with
subjects becoming numbers or letters. All their personal
information is shredded after your study is complete. The only
information you should keep is an address or email address as to
where to send a summary. These files, however, will contain many names, and not
just the names of your subjects.
This board is made up of faculty and sometimes a director,
depending on the size of the university. If you are not familiar
with this application, please visit this website where you will
find all the paperwork and study it.
If your answer is yes to any of these, you will need to go through
a review board to have your research approved. The more “yes”
answers in this list, the more documentation you will need to
explain your research and ensure its adherence to ethical
principles. Be very detailed.
You must consider your personal safety at all times. Make a list
of the possibilities you might face. Sexual harassment and
advances from subjects could become more of a problem than
you might think. I have personally known about this list above
from my colleagues in what happened to them. Researchers
tend to get sick, especially if working with children. A common environmental risk
with children, and using earphones, is head lice.
• All research should debrief the subject
• Contact details to send summary copies of the
finished work, inclusion of your email address,
thank yous, and telling the subject how well
they did and how much you appreciate their
• Always ask if there are any questions
Withdrawal from the study
• All participants can withdraw from a research
study for any reason at any time.
• This is a common happening in all research
studies; therefore, make sure you have
enough subjects to assure the power of your
• You must report the number of withdrawals
from your study and for what reason.
• All data should be securely stored at your
university after your research study is
• Any and all names should be shredded; Only
letters or numbers indicating subjects should
• Data is stored, but the sources of the data (like
tapes, film, etc., ) should be destroyed.
Approval of your research
• Your research must be approved by Indiana
Tech’s Institutional Review Board, with
application for initial review of research using
• You may also need to add additional
explanation, depending on your research and
subject pool described
Guidelines for Research Proposals for
• Does it involve humans?
• Does it involve vulnerable populations for subjects?
• Does it involve persons with disabilities?
• Does it involve persons in hospitals, nursing homes/assisted living, social
• Does it involve incarcerated persons or persons on probation?
• Does it involve persons engaged in illegal activities, such as drug abuse?
• Does it involve sensitive topics, such as illegal acts or private issues?
• Does it involve collection of data that cannot be anonymous?
• Does it involve veterans?
• What are your risks and the risks to any of
your data collectors?
• The list is LONG, but think about the following:
sexual harassment; injury traveling or from a
participant; false allegations from subject
regarding researcher; implicated in illegal
activities; infections and environmental risk.
I don’t have a lot to add here. You give your first name to the
participant – never your last name, address, etc. (The summary
results are sent by Indiana Tech, not by you.) Web-based
research sounds so easy, but much of it is not trusted. Subjects
tend to lie a lot and become someone they are not. And, finally,
if you are collecting data at night, and some of you may do that since you are
working students, please please please, ladies. Do NOT go to your car at night alone.
All your subjects know where you are and could easily wait for you to finish.
Much of this you already know, or will get in another upcoming
class. However, now is the time to think about it, because ethical
problems occur if you do not respect your data.
Finally, the dissertation should be bold in this area of Discussion,
for you have knowledge to report as the result of all your hard
work. However, make sure you have interpreted the findings
correctly, and keep the implications to the narrowness of your
study. There is time for more exploration by you, and by your
research colleagues around the world. This is where you must be clear. You might
be surprised how much research is misinterpreted simply because of a lack of
clarity in this final chapter of work. When you are thinking about those next
questions – remember that good research asks more questions than it answers – do
so with much thought and how those questions can be examined through the
intellect of an ethical and moral researcher.
• No personal details
• Try not to do Web-based research – potential
subjects lie a lot
• Try to do research during daytime and where
there are people
• Know where your exits are
• Ladies, do not go to your car alone at night
after collecting data
Respecting the data
• Use the correct statistical tests
• Design your research so that it has sufficient
power and can withstand withdrawals
• Report “Trends” if you wish, but define what a
• Choose the right graphs and tables for you
• Be bold, but make sure that you have a sense
of flow to your supporting statements for
what this research is telling the public.
• Clarity, clarity, clarity – leave nothing to the
interpretation of others
• Always think about the next questions
research can examine in a thoughtful, ethical
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