UGC NET Paper-1: Ethical issues to consider relating to the Researcher

Ethical issues to consider relating to the Researcher
nta net paper-1 research ethics

Research Aptitude

Avoiding bias

Bias on the part of the researcher is unethical. Bias is different from subjectivity. Subjectivity is related to your educational background, training and competence in research, and your philosophical perspective. Bias is a deliberate attempt either to hide what you have found in your study, or to highlight something disproportionately to its true existence. It is absolutely unethical to introduce bias into a research activity. If you are unable to control your bias, you should not be engaging in the research. Remember, it is the bias that is unethical and not the subjectivity.

Provision or deprivation of a treatment

Both the provision and deprivation of a treatment may pose an ethical dilemma for you as a researcher. When testing an intervention or a treatment, a researcher usually adopts a control experiment design. In such studies, is it ethical to provide a study population with an intervention or treatment that has not yet been conclusively proven effective or beneficial? But if you do not test a treatment/intervention, how can you prove or disprove its effectiveness or benefits? On the other hand, you are providing an intervention that may not be effective. Is this ethical? Is it ethical to deprive the control group of a treatment even if it may prove to be only slightly effective? And beyond the issue of control groups, is it ethical to deprive people who are struggling for life of the possible benefit, however small, which may be derived from a drug that is only under trial? As a researcher you need to be aware of these ethical issues. There are arguments and counter-arguments about these issues. However, it is usually accepted that deprivation of a trial treatment to a control group is not unethical as, in the absence of this, a study can never establish the effectiveness of a treatment which may deprive many others of its possible benefits. This deprivation of the possible benefits, on the other hand, is considered by some as unethical.

Using inappropriate research methodology

A researcher has an obligation to use appropriate methodology, within his/her knowledge base, in conducting a study. It is unethical to use deliberately a method or procedure you know to be inappropriate to prove or disprove something that you want to, such as by selecting a highly biased sample, using an invalid instrument or by drawing wrong conclusions.

Incorrect reporting

To report the findings in a way that changes them to serve your own or someone else’s interest is unethical. Correct and unbiased reporting of the findings are important characteristics of ethical research practice.

Inappropriate use of the information

The use of information in a way that directly or indirectly affects respondents adversely is unethical. For example- examining the feasibility of restructuring an organisation. Restructuring may be beneficial to the organisation as a whole but may be harmful to some individuals. Should you ask respondents for information that is likely to be used against them? If you do, the information may be used against them, and if you do not, the organisation may not be able to derive the benefits of restructuring. It is widely believed that it is ethical to ask questions provided you tell respondents of the potential use of the information, including the possibility of its being used against some of them, and you let them decide if they want to participate. Some may participate for the betterment of the organisation even though it may harm them and others may decide against it.


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