Ep 9 Student Led Study Hacks - Uncover the Truth - Research Skills - Ethical?
From Anne-Marie Langford
If you need to ask yourself: Is my research ethical? Then this is for you! We will start with a quote from (BPS Code of Human Research Ethics, p.5), "‘Research ethics’ refers to the moral principles guiding research from its inception through to completion and publication of results". So - Who does this apply to? Anyone who has to do research for a course, whether it is giving out a questionnaire, conducting an interview, or observing people's behaviour. There are some questions you might want to think about in relation to your project, and whether it is being conducted in an ethical way or not. What are you going to tell participants before they take part? Will this be verbal or written? This is called Informed consent. It's important to tell prospective participants about the research, and what they might be asked to do before they agree to take part. Do you need to complete an ethics form? An ethics form is something you might have to complete to get ethical approval for your research. It lists all your key ethical and methodological decisions and reasons, so that it can be reviewed. Check the information on your modules to see if this is necessary. Who are you asking to participate? Are they vulnerable? Be careful who you're asking to take part. If you're asking people who are under the age of 18, with learning difficulties, or if you're doing research in schools or health care, please make sure you check with your tutor that you have the necessary permissions. How are you asking them? Will they feel pressured? This could be seen as coercion so you have to be careful that you do not pressure people into taking part in your study. Be polite when approaching people and keep in mind that they are giving their time up to help you. This can extend to members of your family, and friends or colleague. They might not feel comfortable in taking part, but will, because they know you. Would you feel comfortable doing what you are asking your participants to do? You have an obligation to protect the participants. When designing your study, think carefully about what you're asking your participants to do, or talk about. Would you feel comfortable taking part in the same study? If not, why not? Can you change the way you approach the research to make it more comfortable? Are you keeping any secrets from your participants? Do you need to Sometimes it is necessary to keep details about the research from the participants, as it may have an impact on how they respond to questions or tasks. However, participants should be fully informed about the research before they start and unless vital to the research design, participants should know what the research is about and what they will be asked to do. Do people have to finish the study once they start?
Participants have the right to withdraw at any point during the study, and up to a stated time after they have taken part in the study. You should make participants aware of this before they take part, and give them a few days after the study has finished to contact you and withdraw their data if they want to. If you're conducting a survey, you should also make participants aware that they can leave out any questions they don't feel comfortable answering. Have you left time/space to thank your participants? Debrief This process is important and comes after the participant has completed the research. It might involve reminding the participants of the aims of the research, how and when they can withdraw their data, and thanking them for taking part. Happy research.
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