Restrictions imposed by the sponsoring organisation
Most research in the social sciences is carried out using funds provided by sponsoring organisations for a specific purpose. The funds may be given to develop a program or evaluate it; to examine its effectiveness and efficiency; to study the impact of a policy; to test a product; to study the behaviour of a group or community; or to study a phenomenon, issue or attitude. Sometimes there may be direct or indirect controls exercised by sponsoring organisations. They may select the methodology, prohibit the publication of ‘what was found’ or impose other restrictions on the research that may stand in the way of obtaining and disseminating accurate information. Both the imposition and acceptance of these controls and restrictions are unethical, as they constitute interference and could amount to the sponsoring organisation tailoring research findings to meet its vested interests.
The misuse of information
How is the sponsoring body going to use the information? How is this likely to affect the study population? Sometimes sponsoring organisations use research as a pretext for obtaining management’s agenda. It is unethical to let your research be used as a reason for justifying management decisions when the research findings do not support them. However, it is recognized that it may be extremely difficult or even impossible for a researcher to prevent this from happening.