The main thing to consider when being responsible with research is ETHICS.
Psychologists should follow and respect ethical for a number of reasons: ethical standards provide knowledge and truth of a research piece and they help to prevent errors – ethics set up trust, respect and equality – researchers are more likely to get funded for their research if they know they are trustworthy – ethics provide health and safety issues due to moral values and human rights!! (without ethical standards, research may not have any respect for our human rights, and none of us want to lose a limb or .. you know.. maybe even DIE, due to taking part in a risky study). *
Shamoo and Resnik** suggested that vital Ethical principles in psychological research are:
Honesty Researchers must not lie!!!!! No one likes a liar. Research is to be reported honestly due to what results have been produced, no sneaky data removing so you can prove your hypothesis (unless of course, there are valid reasons like the outliers discussed last week). Also, lying to others is obviously forbidden, everyone involved in the study should be aware of the research.
Objectivity Researchers should avoid being bias, if they have any personal attachments or interests in something to do with the study this should not interact and affect with the research. (I dunno if anyone has seen the latest Plant of the Apes film? but the main character is a great example of this, he is a scientist and his father is suffering with Alzheimer’s.. he steals drugs from the work and also ends up stealing a chimp all in order to cure his dad..)
Integrity Researchers should be consistent and stick to any agreements made.
Carefulness Researchers should basically.. be careful. Meaning they should keep records of everything happening in the research process, this will prevent careless errors.
Openness Ideas, data, results and opinions should be shared between researchers.
Respect for Intellectual Property Plagiarism is not cool… Do not use other people’s work and publishings without citing and referencing their work.
Confidentiality Keep individual’s data confidential. Their data is allowed to be shown and analyzed but the public do not need to know the individual person’s name, age, address and dog’s name to look at the data!
Responsible Publication Researchers should only publish their research in order to help others and advance research, not just for personal gain of looking good with publications!
Responsible Mentoring Help to mentor research students but researchers should not tell them what to do, students should be able to make their own decisions.
Respect for colleagues Self-explanatory really haha.
Non-Discrimination Anything about a person that is NOT related to the study should not even be thought about: such as their race, sex, ethnicity, age etc.
Legality Well researchers shouldn’t break the law!
Animal Rights Animals should be treated with respect too (Again, Planet of the Apes.. was it really fair that the chimp was stolen and used as scientific research??). Researchers shouldn’t purposely harm animals in order to complete their research. Unfortunately, animals are usually given the nasty experiments as in terms of research humans are looked at as a lot more important creatures.. 😦
Human Rights Personally, I would say this is the main ethical principle. Researchers should be VERY careful when dealing with risky studies, they should always respect a person’s privacy and human dignity! Harm should be avoided!!!
A very famous example of piece of research that did not follow ethical issues was of course, Milgrams experiment on obedience and authority. I wont go into detail about the study as I’m sure all you psychology geeks know ALLLLLL about it. Anyway, Milgram caused serious emotional harm for the participants as they thought they were electrocuting someone else! A study like this would never ever be done again due to this. But you could argue, as disgusting and as upsetting it was to emotional harm the participants.. if Milgram didnt break the ethics, we would never have that huge piece of research! We would never have thought that us as humans would harm (and up to 450 volts? maybe even kill!!!) another human just because an authority figure told us to do so?? So thats the only benefit I can think for not having ethics… lol. Oh no, also without ethics, conducting a study would be a lot quicker as we wouldnt have to faff around with consent forms and all that!
To summarize, ethics may restrict researchers from researching exactly what they wanted to, which unfortunately can lead to us missing out on some interesting and scientific findings. However, I do believe that ethical principles are a great thing to have in place, without them.. who knows what kind of studies we might be conducting. It’s not justifiable to have an experiment where someone could potentially lose their life just so we can have some good research, we can still find results with ethics in order :-). Also, being responsible in research is important as these guidelines provide a basis on how to conduct a study responsibly, atleast we know all research is being conducted fairly in the same way 🙂
* Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct according to APA.
** Adapted from Shamoo A and Resnik D. 2009. Responsible Conduct of Research, 2nd ed. (New York: Oxford University Press).