Ethics in Educational Research

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Ethics in Educational Research
The relationship between ethics and research is one of the most important problems faced by educational researchers. The demand for accountability and ethical responsibility in research is valid and has become irresistible, as instances to the contrary have resulted in impaired research opportunities, infringement on the autonomy of peoples studied, and in some instances harm to research participants (Howe & Moses, 2002). Many education associations have their own codes of ethics to guide members’ research activity. As a professional educators’ association, the AERA documents the initiative involved in educating researchers to produce research of high integrity and quality with respect to human research protections. Ethical principles are vital for educational researchers because important ethical issues frequently arise in their work. This set of principles is intended to heighten awareness of the ethical issues that face these researchers and to offer them workable guidelines to help resolve these issues. It encourages educational researchers to educate themselves in this area, and to exercise their own good judgment. It is also intended to provide protection for researchers who come under pressure to act in ways contrary to their professional ethics (American Educational Research Association, 1991). Taken in conjunction with typical codes of research ethics, linking teaching and research ethics is helpful in identifying criteria and principles to be met by teacher researchers when conducting formal investigations in their classroom or school (Copeland, 2003). These include having a valid research design, their responsibilities to the research participants, their responsibilities to the students, and using data with integrity. Additionally, educators collect and analyze data to guide them in making decisions to help improve the success of the students and their schools. Poorly designed research wastes participants’ time and often leads to their refusal to participate in any other research studies. Smith (2000) reminds us that faulty research is not only a waste of time and money but cannot be conceived of as being ethical because it does not contribute to the well-being of the participants. Related to this criterion of validity is the need for the researcher to be able to do the proposed research. She or he must have, or be able to develop within the time frame of the study, the necessary skills for completing the study effectively. In their work, educational researchers' paramount responsibility is to their research participants. When there is a conflict of interest, these individuals must come first. Researchers must do everything in their power to protect their physical, social, and psychological welfare and to honor their dignity and privacy. Where research involves the acquisition of material and information transferred on the assumption of trust between persons, it is obvious that the rights, interests, and sensitivities of those persons must be safeguarded. The aims of the investigation should be communicated as well as possible to research participants. Research participants have a right to remain anonymous. This right should be respected both where it has been promised explicitly and where no clear understanding to the contrary has been reached. The anticipated consequences of research should be communicated as fully as possible to the individuals and groups likely to be affected (Cornett & Chase, 2006) In relation with students, teachers should be candid, fair, non-exploitative, and committed to their welfare and academic progress. Honesty is the essential quality of a good teacher, neutrality is not. Beyond honest teaching, educational researchers as teachers have ethical responsibilities in selection, instruction in ethics, career counseling, academic supervision, evaluation, compensation, and placement. Teachers should alert students to the ethical problems of research and...
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