Ethical Behavior in Research
University of Phoenix
Critical Behavior in Research
The intent of this paper is to provide a general overview of the issues surrounding ethical behavior throughout research process. The research process can have very different requirements based on the industry and profession. The authors profession does not deal with the direct involvement of human subjects as some medical research might. This brings a different point of view to the research process since direct impact of procedures, drugs or other human studies is not required for this type of research. This paper will evaluate various works by Christensen, (2010), Leedy & Ormord, (2010), and Neuman, (2005). There are special works that provide additional insight provided by Greaney, et al., (2012) and Frechtling, et al., (2012). These works, directed toward profession research provide specific focus on the authors field of study. The process of developing an ethically sound research project and properly evaluating the impacts are the genesis that drives this paper. This work, divided into several sections, each with a particular emphasis: Ethical issues, Importance of ethical consideration, Potential issues and impacts on Information Systems research.
Ethical issues at the heart of the readings
The article that used for this evaluation is the planning and design work done by Leedy & Ormrod, (2010). This work provided detailed explanations of the high level issues that researcher face during the development of research projects. ‘Most ethical issues in research fall into one of four categories: protection from harm, informed consent, right to privacy, and honesty with professional colleagues.’ (Leedy & Ormrod, 2010). Protection from harm, defined as ‘exposure of research participants to unnecessary physical or psychological harm’, (Leedy & Ormrod, 2010). The more ethically obvious physical harm is easier to prepare for during the development of a research project. The psychological harm is more difficult anticipate as each individual can have varying impressions of a given situation.
The next item pointed out in the Leedy & Ormord, (2010) work is informed consent where an interesting question was poised. ‘A dilemma sometimes arises as to how informed participants should be. If people are given too much information—for instance, if they are told the specific research hypothesis being tested—they may behave differently than they would under more normal circumstances.’ The researcher must weigh each of the components of research and identify potential situations where the amount of information could alter the results.
Right to privacy is another area of consideration where Leedy and Ormrod, (2010) stated, ‘a researcher must keep the nature and quality of participants’ performance strictly Confidential.’ With amount of information available over the internet and through public records, the privacy lines become blurred. There is some information that is publicly available that should only be used for statistical information while personal information would best be removed. The implications and impacts of exposing personal information could cultivate the perception that the work face dismissal on the grounds of questionable tactics, (Greaney, et al., 2012).
The final area presented in the Leedy & Ormrod, (2010) work is honesty with professional colleagues. They state, ‘Researchers must report their findings in a complete and honest fashion, without misrepresenting what they have done or intentionally misleading others about the nature of their findings.’ This includes omissions and misrepresentations of the data gathered. When the larger group of researchers must continuously validate and verify research studies, the body of knowledge suffers. When the research presented is in a credible and honest manner, future studies have the opportunity to avoid wasted time and repeating situations that do not advance the study.
Working within the guidelines of these four items, Leedy & Ormrod, (2010) provide a simple way to categorize and classify different ethical situations. Developing the ability to identify potential areas that are considered questionable, the responsible researcher will press the important questions and search for alternative where available.
Importance of ethical research
Christensen et al., (2010) provided the clearest definition of ethics, ‘research ethics is a set of principles that assist the community of researchers in deciding how to conduct ethical research.’ Neuman, (2010) goes on to state that, ‘ethical issues are the concerns, dilemmas, and conflicts that arise over the proper way to conduct research.’ These guiding principles act as a beacon or direction that researchers can move toward. Using this line of thinking the researcher may have to adjust their research or thinking several times along the path, but understanding the expectations of the larger group will provide credibility and confidence in the research results discovered.
The collection of this type of data can present the researcher with a challenging array of opportunities. This involves each participant to focus on just their particular experience during the phenomenon, (Christensen et al., 2010). The emphasis is placed by searching for what is called, significant statements, in the results of the research. Leedy & Ormrod, (2010), also indicate that this can lead to inaccuracies in the measurement of the data. This has the potential to influence the interpretation phenomenological data.
Potential issues involving ethics during research
The material available to the researcher concerning ethics is well developed. With this understanding there is little chance for the responsible researcher to question the ethics of a given situation. Leedy & Ormrod, (2010), provide a series of steps that can help the researcher during the development of a research project. These are, determining the data required, identifying where the required data is located, analyzing how the data is collected and the methods involved in the interpretation of the data. Following a structured method and viewing each step from not only a required data perspective but an ethical perspective as well, the researcher will produce a higher quality results that the community at large can feel confident represents accurate findings.
Relevance to information systems research
The application of ethical principals in relation to information systems at first seemed easier than other disciplines. There are many regulations about reporting and accounting. Accurate information concerning costs, taxes and shipping are a requirement of the normal operation of a business. Without this level of accuracy and accountability, the organization would not be able to continue operations for very long. There are examples of ethical violations even with all of the controls that are in place. Rounding amounts in calculations for banking, reporting of miss-information to investors and numerous other examples in the media. These indicate that even with penalties and chance of criminal prosecution, unethical decisions are still made in every profession. As Christensen et al., (2010) points out, an ethical perspective is the responsibility of each individual at every level if it is to truly have an impact. One group of individuals many times thinks up information systems requirements. Then another group develops the design. Management and executed via specifications to a development group, potentially in another organization. Each of the areas presents the opportunity for ethics to impact the advancement of the project.
Ethical issues during information systems development
The work by Neuman, (2007) stated this in easy to understand terms. ‘The standards for ethical research are stricter than those in many other areas (e.g., collection agencies, police departments, advertisers, etc.). Professional social research requires both knowledge of proper research techniques (e.g., sampling) and sensitivity to ethical concerns in research. This is not easy.’ Greaney, et al. (2012) continues this line of thinking by implicating the novice researcher with a higher responsibility to consider all the aspects of collecting and analyzing the data within a research initiative. Since the novice lacks the prior experience and situational awareness, assistance from more experienced researchers is necessary for the initial works to establish credibility. Leedy & Ormrod, (2010) offer a practical view, ’we urge you to make the choice based on the research problem you want to address and the skills you have as a researcher, not based on what tasks you want to avoid.’ This simple advice summarizes the impact in relation to information systems. During the development process, staying focused on the development process and the requirements will help to maintain an ethical emphasis throughout the project.
Impact of ethical behavior on individual research
The information presented in the Frechtling, et al., (2012) work surrounding codes of ethics is directly applicable to the authors professional study. Neuman, (2010), stated ‘ethical conduct ultimately depends on the individual researcher,’ which summarizes the overarching theme of all of the works. The Frechtling, et al., (2012) pointed out ‘there is very little compliance with ethical standards in the field of management research studied.’ This brings the lack of modern examples within the professional community into clear view. There is opportunity to expand and improve the professional research process within the information systems profession and to the larger management of information within organizations. The ethical impact of decisions internal to the organization does not have the same visibility as external issues, yet in many cases they are equally important.
In conclusion, ethical considerations apply to all studies and in all forms of research. The emphasis of this paper involves the ethical development of research methods for use in a professional environment, particularly in the information systems environment. The body of knowledge about what is considered ethical and acceptable provides the researcher with an abundance of resources. In the end, it remains the responsibility of the researcher to make the right decisions and to present the data gathered to a higher code of ethics, which will build the body of available knowledge. Failure in this area has the potential to impact those that will rely on similar information to advance their particular study.
Christensen, L. B., Johnson, R. B., & Turner, L. A. (2010). Research methods, design, and analysis (11 ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
Frechtling, D., & Boo, S. (2012). On the Ethics of Management Research: An Exploratory Investigation. Journal Of Business Ethics,106(2), 149-160. doi:10.1007/s10551-011-0986-7
Greaney, A., Sheehy, A., Heffernan, C., Murphy, J., MhaolrÃºnaigh, S., Heffernan, E., & Brown, G. (2012). Research ethics application: a guide for the novice researcher. British Journal Of Nursing (BJN), 21(1), 38-43.
Leedy, P. D., & Ormrod, J. E. (2010). Practical research: Planning and design (9th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Neuman, W. L. (2005). Social research methods: Qualitative and Qualitative approaches (6th ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
References: Christensen, L. B., Johnson, R. B., & Turner, L. A. (2010). Research methods, design, and analysis (11 ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon. Frechtling, D., & Boo, S. (2012). On the Ethics of Management Research: An Exploratory Investigation. Journal Of Business Ethics,106(2), 149-160. doi:10.1007/s10551-011-0986-7 Greaney, A., Sheehy, A., Heffernan, C., Murphy, J., MhaolrÃºnaigh, S., Heffernan, E., & Brown, G. (2012). Research ethics application: a guide for the novice researcher. British Journal Of Nursing (BJN), 21(1), 38-43. Leedy, P. D., & Ormrod, J. E. (2010). Practical research: Planning and design (9th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. Neuman, W. L. (2005). Social research methods: Qualitative and Qualitative approaches (6th ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.