Attachment in the early years
Attachment in the early years

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Attachment in the early years

The British Psychological Society code

Activity 2 The BPS code

Allow about 1 hour

This activity will familiarise you with the approach taken by the British Psychological Society to ensure ethical conduct in psychology research, namely, developing the Code of Human Research Ethics (2014) [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .

Read through the BPS code and as you do so, consider the following:

  • How well do you feel it deals with minimising the risks identified in this section to all parties involved in research?
  • Bearing in mind that the principles apply to research with people in general, not just children, how effective do you consider them to be in specifically protecting the welfare of children?

Discussion

In particular, you should have been thinking about the differences in sensitivities that children of different ages might have, compared with those of adults, and issues of differential power relationships between adults and children.

In concert with the development of ethical frameworks by professional bodies such as the British Psychological Society (BPS), many universities (the prime sites of psychological and other fields of research involving humans) have established procedures for the review of research proposed by academic and research staff, and undergraduate and postgraduate research students. Typically this involves an application made to an ethics committee using a standard format, which is scrutinised by a panel including members from outside the university with no vested interest in the institution. Such committees typically have powers to prevent research being conducted if they consider it not to comply with acceptable ethical standards.

As already noted, in relation to medical research, funding bodies increasingly require explicit compliance with ethical standards and scrutiny procedures by demanding that applications for funding go through institutional and National Research Ethics Service (for research within the National Health Service) ethics review procedures. In some cases, such as with the Medical Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council, funding bodies may also ask for compliance with their own ethics guidelines.

Other stakeholders in research, including the professional bodies to which many researchers belong, such as the BPS, publish detailed codes of ethical conduct with which members are expected to comply when carrying out research. The BPS Code of Human Research Ethics gives full ethics guidelines and principles, which provide a framework that all BPS members are considered to have agreed to comply with upon joining the society.

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