Becoming an ethical researcher
Becoming an ethical researcher

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Becoming an ethical researcher

1 What could go wrong after research?

Described image
Figure 2 There are certainly hazards to avoid in research

Session 5 introduced a framework for thinking about virtuous ethical research behaviour, and also highlighted some of the vices researchers might be tempted to show. Most researchers do not choose to be unethical and, if they do succumb to these vices, the reasons can usually be explained by responses to the many pressures and accountabilities to which researchers are obligated.

Activity 1 Avoiding temptation

Timing: Allow approximately 5 minutes for Part A and 10 minutes for Part B

Part A

Match the following real scenarios to the vices, which the researchers were accused of not managing to avoid. This will relate to both what they did or, in some cases, did not do.

Choose one or two of the vices which might be associated with each of the six scenarios and write (or paste) them in the adjoining boxes. It doesn’t matter which order the vices are listed in in the columns.

  • Recklessness
  • Partiality
  • Laziness
  • Concealment
  • Exaggeration
  • Boastfulness
Number Scenario Vice 1 Vice 2
1 Alice Goffman was accused of abetting criminal behaviour by not reporting criminal behaviour she observed when she became part of a community in a deprived area of the United States (Lubet, 2015)
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2 Matthew Hedges was accused of being a spy when his doctoral research involved asking questions about power in policy decision-making in the United Arab Emirates (Parveen and Wintour, 2018)
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3 Natasha Whiteman initially carried out her doctoral research in an online fan forum without asking permission but, when the site crashed, she revealed she had archived material to share and those on the site were very unhappy to hear this (Whiteman, 2012)
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4 Dr Andrew Wakefield had his research, which caused alarm about possible effects of the mumps, measles and rubella vaccinations, discredited as a result of being found to have falsified results (Boseley, 2018)
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5 Marks Chabedi had his doctorate taken away after being accused of plagiarism and copying his thesis from another doctorate researcher (Infomory, 2013)
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6

In his book Bad Science, Ben Goldacre accuses those involved with promoting fish oils in schools to increase pupil performance as being based on flimsy evidence (Goldacre, 2009)

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Words: 0
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Discussion

 

Number Scenario Vice 1 Vice 2
1 Alice Goffman was accused of abetting criminal behaviour by not reporting criminal behaviour she observed when she became part of a community in a deprived area of the United States (Lubet, 2015) Partiality Concealment
2 Matthew Hedges was accused of being a spy when his doctoral research involved asking questions about power in policy decision-making in the United Arab Emirates (Parveen and Wintour, 2018) Recklessness  
3 Natasha Whiteman initially carried out her doctoral research in an online fan forum without asking permission but, when the site crashed, she revealed she had archived material to share and those on the site were very unhappy to hear this (Whiteman, 2012) Concealment  
4 Dr Andrew Wakefield had his research, which caused alarm about possible effects of the mumps, measles and rubella vaccinations, discredited as a result of being found to have falsified results (Boseley, 2018) Laziness Concealment
5 Marks Chabedi had his doctorate taken away after being accused of plagiarism and copying his thesis from another doctorate researcher (Infomory, 2013) Laziness Boastfulness
6

In his book Bad Science, Ben Goldacre accuses those involved with promoting fish oils in schools to increase pupil performance as being based on flimsy evidence (Goldacre, 2009)

Boastfulness Exaggeration

This activity does not assert that the researchers did show these vices, but refers to publicly discussed cases. Please see the reference list if you are interested in reading about these cases. Several of the researchers have been able to explain their actions, defend their choices and resolve the situations. Their experiences help us all to reflect on some of the hazards to be aware of, and when there is the potential for researchers to be challenged by others.

Part B

Now think about the pressures the researchers in Part A were under, to try to imagine what they might have been tempted by.

Write (or paste) the ‘pressure’ statement into the adjoining boxes to match each scenario. It doesn’t matter which order the pressures are listed in the two right-hand columns. Some statements can be used more than once.

Choose from the following statements.

  • To meet the perceived expectations of funders
  • To reveal otherwise unknown information
  • To retain the trust of the relationships built with participants
  • To complete a doctorate
  • To increase the chance of fully understanding the participant’s lived experiences
  • To increase the impact of the research for career advancement
  • To cope with busyness in life
Number Scenario Pressure 1 Pressure 2
1 Alice Goffman was accused of abetting criminal behaviour by not reporting criminal behaviour she observed when she became part of a community in a deprived area of the United States (Lubet, 2015)
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2 Matthew Hedges was accused of being a spy when his doctoral research involved asking questions about power in policy decision-making in the United Arab Emirates (Parveen and Wintour, 2018)
To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
3 Natasha Whiteman initially carried out her doctoral research in an online fan forum without asking permission but, when the site crashed, she revealed she had archived material to share and those on the site were very unhappy to hear this (Whiteman, 2012)
To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
4 Dr Andrew Wakefield had his research, which caused alarm about possible effects of the mumps, measles and rubella vaccinations, discredited as a result of being found to have falsified results (Boseley, 2018)
To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
5 Marks Chabedi had his doctorate taken away after being accused of plagiarism and copying his thesis from another doctorate researcher (Infomory, 2013)
To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
6

In his book Bad Science, Ben Goldacre accuses those involved with promoting fish oils in schools to increase pupil performance as being based on flimsy evidence (Goldacre, 2009)

To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
Words: 0
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

Discussion

Number Scenario Pressure 1 Pressure 2
1 Alice Goffman was accused of abetting criminal behaviour by not reporting criminal behaviour she observed when she became part of a community in a deprived area of the United States (Lubet, 2015) To retain the trust of the relationships built with participants To increase the chance of fully understanding the participant’s lived experiences
2 Matthew Hedges was accused of being a spy when his doctoral research involved asking questions about power in policy decision-making in the United Arab Emirates (Parveen and Wintour, 2018) To reveal otherwise unknown information To complete a doctorate
3 Natasha Whiteman initially carried out her doctoral research in an online fan forum without asking permission but, when the site crashed, she revealed she had archived material to share and those on the site were very unhappy to hear this (Whiteman, 2012) To reveal otherwise unknown information To complete a doctorate
4 Dr Andrew Wakefield had his research, which caused alarm about possible effects of the mumps, measles and rubella vaccinations, discredited as a result of being found to have falsified results (Boseley, 2018) To meet the perceived expectations of funders To increase the impact of the research for career advancement
5 Marks Chabedi had his doctorate taken away after being accused of plagiarism and copying his thesis from another doctorate researcher (Infomory, 2013) To cope with busyness in life To complete a doctorate
6

In his book Bad Science, Ben Goldacre accuses those involved with promoting fish oils in schools to increase pupil performance as being based on flimsy evidence (Goldacre, 2009)

To meet the perceived expectations of funders To increase the impact of the research for career advancement
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