Research Ethics Term Paper Available

Research Ethics
Research Ethics

Research Ethics

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This is the last question out of the four questions comprehensive exam that is referred to question 4 and its requirement illustrated as follows:

Question 4: Ethics

As you know, scientific research must be conducted in accordance with ethical principles. The ethical principles of research are defined in:

Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct
Standard 8: Research and Publication

The National Academy Of Sciences, National Academy Of Engineering, and Institute Of Medicine Of The National Academies have a more detailed and comprehensive set of ethical guidelines for scientific research:

Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy (U.S.), National Academy of Sciences (U.S.), National Academy of Engineering., & Institute of Medicine (U.S.). (2009) On being a scientist: A guide to responsible conduct in research, (3rd ed.). Washington, D.C: National Academies Press.

Write a paper in which you discuss how you will ensure that all aspects of your doctoral research, from literature review to conducting research, to writing the dissertation manuscript will be done with care and integrity and will meet the ethical standards of scientific research. Reference the two publications above and at least five additional peer-reviewed articles.

You must justify all the steps you will take to ensure the ethical integrity of your dissertation project and not simply describe standard practice. You must show that you have your own clear set of ethical principles and that you know how to apply them to your work. You must do more than just paraphrase ethical guidelines. You must explain specifically how you will apply published ethical guidelines and concepts to what you will do in your research (as you envision it at this point).

Be sure to address the following:
• Plagiarism
• Risk assessment
• Informed consent
• Privacy and confidentiality
• Data handling and reporting
• Mistakes and negligence
• Working with a Mentor
• North central University requirements for IRB approval

Conclude your paper with your thoughts on the following statement:

Ethical scientific researchers have a commitment to all who are touched by their research—participants who share their lives and time, mentors and advisors, reviewers, future readers, and supporters and cheerleaders on the journey—to take care and do their work well.

The structure of your paper should be as follows:
Title page
Body (10-15 pages, no more or less; APA Style; use appropriate headings for organization of the paper)
References (APA Style)

Learning Outcomes:
4. Integrate knowledge of ethical practices with principles of professional practice as it applies to specific scenarios within the student’s academic discipline and specialization.


Research Ethics


Research is an explorative activity that is undertaken for a range of reasons, though they all stem from a need to collect evidence that either supports or rejects a supposition. For students, research acts as an opportunity to accomplish their academic requirements, especially with regards to the application of their theory in practice. In this respect, the decision to complete an academic research is one that could have grave implications for a student. The research process is cumbersome, often very expensive and time consuming (Israel & Hay, 2006. For instance, the students would need to conduct extensive literature reviews, spend considerable sums in collecting and analyzing primary data, and spend considerable time in presenting the final report. Thus, if a student undertakes a mediocre research that is ultimately rejected, then they would have wasted more than just their time and money. Besides, the student must understand that the research process would require them to be very disciplined and patient. The research process – beginning with developing a research question, developing an appropriate methodology, conducting an extensive literature review, preparing a proposal, and so on – is daunting, requiring that the student be disciplined, have integrity and care for the research (Oliver, 2014). Therefore, researchers must ensure that they observe some ethical standards even as they maintain the integrity and higher levels of ethics in the research process by exploring the research core values in the real world setting.

As earlier mentioned, the research process is a formidable undertaking. Adding to its daunting nature is the need for researchers to observe research ethics in the whole process. Granting that the trustworthiness of a research report has usually been a subject of debate, its value can never be overestimated (American Psychological Association, 2014). Literature on the topic of research ethics shows that it is a normative matter whose observation is left to the studies in the form of ethical values. Ultimately, the study is expected to respect others, be trustworthy, open, objective, fair and honest in the course of conducting their research. It implies that if a researcher violates any of the values then their research would be considered unethical (Committee on Science, Engineering and Public Policy, National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, & Institute of Medicine, 2009). For instance, if the research applies questionable research practices such as falsifying and fabricating data without informing the audience then it can be construed as having used unethical practices. A researcher intent on carrying out ethical research faces four key challenges. Firstly, how they would manage the information and data collected in the study. Secondly, how the government legislation affects their research approach. Thirdly, how the community views their research. Finally, how the participants and subjects see the study. In the long run, participation is moderated by the anticipated research benefits (Sales & Folkman, 2000). In this respect, research activities are governed by a set of ethical codes that may be intangible, but are still clear in their implications.

Extensive investigation has been conducted on the subject of research ethics. Most of the research has been with regards to ensuring that the participants’ identity is protected by a confidentiality agreement, anonymity is maintained, privacy is observed, dignity is maintained, the process is conducted with honesty, harm is prevented, and justice is done. Even though there is ample literature on the subject of research ethics, particularly academic integrity with regards to researches conducted by students, a more comprehensive, nuanced and holistic approach remains unexplored. Thus, there is very little acquiescence by students as there are minimal enforceable ethical standards associated with academic research (Mertens & Ginsberg, 2009).

Stark (2012) pointed out that research risked losing its value if ethical principles were not observed, acting irresponsibly and being disrespectful. Research ethics is a multidimensional subject that touches on dishonesty and unethical research practices. Although institutional review boards (IRB) have become an integral part of any research, there are researchers who argue that the boards are little more than figureheads since research ethics is a complex subject. The boards cannot guarantee that the research has been conducted ethically, even though they try to weed out unethical practices. In essence, the absence of a universally accepted and articulated set of ethical principles exacerbates the problem of applying ethical standards to research activities. Consequently, given the close association between all the research participants – such as the researchers, participants and community – there is a need to clarify research ethics, and ensure that researchers do not get an ambiguous understanding of the subject. According to Emanuel (2008), the process of obtaining approval from the IRB is a frustrating exercise. It is because knowledge of the subject and needs to be varied considerably. Regardless, ethical principles boil down to three primary aspects. Firstly, avoiding all harm against the community. Secondly, being open but keeping any identifying information private. Finally, ensuring that the trust level of the community is maintained (Emanuel, 2008).

Undertaking a postgraduate degree in any subject requires some level of determination and a will to succeed. As part of a degree, students will be needed to conduct a project that includes primary research where they collect both primary and secondary data and subject the data to analysis that points out data trends. It implies that the student must have the innate strengthen and determination to pursue their degree. The students are expected to conduct extensive data collection, analysis, and presentation. It is often a demanding task requiring observation of stringent directions and formats that are not guaranteed to produce the desired results. Most disturbing is the fact that some students are folding to the academic pressure and opting to apply unethical practices in their educational activities. In fact, some of them conduct shoddy research, citing resource and time constraints as the reason for that. Still, students must understand that the major purpose of research is to influence policy by providing evidence to support or discount a particular decision.



Research transgressions have the latent adversely to affect the integrity of the research activity (Loue, 2000). The threat of plagiarism is real, and many research communities have dedicated considerable resources to ensuring that it is not practiced. A majority of them infer plagiarism to mean unoriginal work whose source has not been well acknowledged. Many assumptions are ascribed to their term, thereby making it difficult for researchers to assign a precise meaning to the term (Stewart, 2011). Using an internet search engine – such as Google, Bing and Yahoo, and so on – reveals that plagiarism has a lot of meanings to different, though the core of all the definitions points to the use of secondary information without appropriately acknowledging the source of the information. All researchers – including students – are expected to understand the meaning of plagiarism, as a research term, and ensure that they prevent it in their research activities. Eventually, we realize that plagiarism is possibly the biggest source of concern for research activities. It is because different meanings are attached to the term yet any evidence of violations attracts substantial penalties that could include failing the course. Most students who plagiarize in their reports often argue that they were either under considerable stress or not careful enough thus ended up being careless when preparing the report. Even with the measures in place to counter plagiarism, the problem persists and is anticipated to remain for the foreseeable future (Loue, 2000).

The problem of plagiarism among research is a persistent problem with students often being the main culprits, although the repercussions have often being a successful deterrent against repeat offenses (Boomgaarden, Louhiala & Wiesing, 2003). The improvements in communication and information technologies have exacerbated by proving new and innovative ways for research to plagiarize without being caught or punished. The increase in publications and materials that researchers can access have complicated the problem. Plagiarism is a solvable academic problem; only requiring that the researchers properly format their publications and appropriately cite the source of information. Most students attract plagiarism penalties only because they failed to organize their compositions, mismanaged their time and did not proofread their work, thereby resulting in them ignoring some of the most fundamental citation mistakes. Still, there are researchers who intentionally plagiarize as a shortcut to completing their research (Piccolo & Thomas, 2012).

Solving the plagiarism problem among researchers requires concerted input from all the stakeholders, such as publishers, students, scholars, teachers, and schools. They must work together to ensure that all publications are professionally conducted and presented. Learning institutions play a role in the prevention of plagiarism by demanding that their students observe stringent ethical research codes and that detail what plagiarism denotes and the penalties for any violations. In addition, they would train students in the connotation of plagiarism and how it can be avoided, including testing for their understanding of plagiarism (Remenyi, Swan & van den Assem, 2011). Therefore, the academic community, particularly learning institutions, have the duty of making sure that all students are aware of the nature of plagiarism and how to avoid it, including punishment in the case of apparent violations.

If students are in doubt about the source of an idea or thought when they are conducting their research, then it is incumbent upon them to conduct additional research and ascertain the origin of the idea. It ensures that they avoid unintentional plagiarism. Ultimately, the choice to avoid plagiarism is left to the researcher. Still, any student intent on conducting research should keep abreast with any research approaches changes and ensure that they apply the latest policies in their research activities. All publishers must also be held accountable for any of the materials they publish and ensure that the material is not in violations of plagiarism principles (Comstock, 2013).

Risk assessment

Risk assessment denotes to the process of examining a situation and determining whether it presents a hazard to the researcher, participants and community. Risk assessment is a pre-requisite for any research activities that would entail evaluating happenings that are expected to affect the research participants, researcher, and community. Self-assessment is part of the risk assessment. It allows researchers to ascertain any hazards that are likely to impact their research and change the outcome. Within the research design phase, the researchers are expected to identify the risk and put measures to ensure that the risk is controlled or eliminated. In research risk assessment, the research can pinpoint common risks that can disturb the study. Some of the most common research risks include reputations of both the participants and researchers, legal obligations, and financial constraints and accountability (Stewart, 2011). Mertens and Ginsberg (2009) pointed out that results fabrication, information sources falsification, and plagiarism were the most common risks in students’ managed researches. These risks have serious implications if they occur, and students have tried to avoid them. The researcher must also be aware that research risks are dynamic, having the ability to change as the research progresses. As such, risks assessment must be conducted at regular intervals with a risk portfolio included in the research process. Comstock (2013) noted that the risk assessment dynamics and changes entailed regular information collection, evaluation and sharing with the research stakeholders who include researcher, participants, peers, and mentors.

Informed consent

Informed consent implies that a participant makes a decision to either join or desist from joining a research study based on whatever information has been availed of them. It is guided by the need to remain truthful during the course of the research and respecting all the stakeholders.  If the research misinform the participants or omits some information, they whatever consent the participants may have provided would be deemed as non-consensual. Ethical research points out that a participant should only be recruited into the study after they have reviewed all the pertinent information and make their decision voluntarily. The individuals who agree to participate in the research must be protected from any apprehensions and retaliations. The same applies to persons who were approached by refused to take part in the research activity. The prospective participants must be made cognizant of the research details such as the risks and research process since they could be a part of the study. The participants will then opt to participate or not based on the information that they have been given. Meanwhile, the researcher must also attempt to shield all the participants from harm that could take the form of physical or psychological harm. In the case of minors or subjects who are legally dependent, consent for the research must be obtained from their legal guardian before they can be allowed to participate in the study. The informed consent should be well documented and stored in a secure location (Oliver, 2010; Sales & Folkman, 2000; Stewart, 2011).

Privacy and confidentiality

Privacy and confidentiality are often misconstrued as the same concept. Although, the two concepts work in concert, they are not the same. Privacy is the control over the circumstance, place and time that an individual shares the private aspects of their life with others. It suggests that a person has the right to without private information about their lives, only revealing what they consider acceptable and to a select group that they have identified (Oliver, 2010; Sales & Folkman, 2000). For instance, a research participants can choose to deny a researcher entry into their home if they feel that the information that will be collected in their home is likely to include information that they have no desire to reveal. If to take another example, a Christian could refuse to have their interview conducted on the premises of a Buddhist temple citing religious belief differences.

On the other hand, confidentiality encompasses protecting an individual’s privacy. In this case, the person who has been given the private information must observe privacy principles and only disclose the information after receiving express permission from the information source (Oliver, 2010; Sales & Folkman, 2000). For instance, a doctor should only disclose test results after they have received consent from the patient. It is expected that an individual will not disclose private information short of first getting the express permission to do so. An individual’s right to privacy is not negotiable. In fact, it is part of the bill of rights contained in the constitution. Information obtained from individuals must be kept confidential at all times, and only used for the original purpose for which the information was gathered (Stewart, 2011). For instance, if a researcher gathers information to determine how many individuals use a particular brand of soap, then they cannot use the same information to racially profile their participants unless they have received consent to do the same.

Within the academic community, confidentiality is applied as the participants’ reassurance that they are engaged in an ethical activity. Researchers usually avail a confidentiality agreement as part of the informed consent with the assurance that they will diligently observe the agreement. It helps in building a trust relationship with the participants (Stewart, 2011). There are no professional bodies to ensure that confidentiality agreements are observed and the participants’ privacy rights are respected, but the potential implications of trust being lost as a result of violating the confidentiality agreement ensures that researchers observe it. Failing to observe the confidentiality and privacy concepts have also caused researchers to face legal difficulties as participants sue them for the same. The violating researchers end up being financially liable, facing embarrassment, being physically and psychologically harmed, and even losing their jobs (Comstock, 2013). There are some statutory principles that protect participants’ confidentiality and privacy, such as Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). FERPA is a federal act that limits public access to the academic records of students that are held by education institutions. These records can only be accessed after receiving written permission from the students, their guardians or their legal representative (Howard, McLaughlin & Knight, 2012). Another statutory principle is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). HIPAA is a federal act that protects patients’ information from unauthorized access, mentioning the instances when third parties can access the information (Howard, McLaughlin & Knight, 2012).

It is incumbent upon the researcher and convenient that they observe all privacy and confidentially agreements as stated in the informed consent form. Although errors and lack of judgments could be occasionally expected, the researcher must exert considerable effort to guarantee that all data is protected and applied as stated in the confidentiality agreement. They must observe all the established principles regarding research practices and activities. It will limit and prevent any accidental abuse of the participants’ confidentiality and privacy (Comstock, 2013).

Data handling and reporting

The research process entails collection, reporting and handling of data. If it is undertaken correctly, then the research process can be guaranteed to be legitimate. Research involving human participants (subjects) will require approval from the IRB before the research can proceed. Every institution that is engaged in conducting human study is necessary to have an IRB that is mandated by the federal government to guide the research process and ensure that no human violations occur. It also applies to research on human behavioral patterns. Researchers are expected to ensure that even as they carry out the research activities, they remain sensitive to the well-being of the human participants. Data handling must follow all the IRB stipulations since mishandling could have an adverse impact on the research outcome (Emanuel, 2008). Every education institutions have a set of principles that students must observe when handling research data. Data validity or invalidity is not only a reflection of the researcher’s inability to conduct the research, but also the institutions inability to track research they are supposed to be regulating (Stark, 2012).

Primary data collection can take either of four forms. Firstly, the data can be collected using structured questionnaires that ask questions with a list of optional answers included. Secondly, the research subjects can be observed in their natural setting and their behavior noted. Thirdly, the participants can be asked to take personal notes that are then evaluated to determine trends. Finally, the participants can be subjected to an interview that is then recorded using a tape recorder. The most significant feature of data collection is that the researcher must be consistent in their choice of methods. The same method must be used for all participants to ensure that the data is consistent and comparable. Ultimately, an independent individual should be able to replicate the same results (Emanuel, 2008; Stark, 2012).

Once collected, the data should be securely and responsibly stored, with unauthorized access prevented. It will allow for easy retrieval and referencing in the future. In addition, secure storage allows for pertinent and valid questions about the data to be asked in future research. Even as the data is stored securely, the researcher must have a contingency plans that allows them to recover the data in case of a loss in the primary data storage unit (Emanuel, 2008; Stark, 2012).

Mistakes and negligence

Research is not immune to mistakes and negligence. The whole process requires human input thereby introducing the possibility of errors being made. In fact, even the process of writing a research report challenges and creates some complexities for the researcher as some researchers have little to no experience with writing comprehensive research reports. Educational institutions have taken measures to reduce the errors by training students on how to conduct research and report their results (Stewart, 2011). Regardless, mistakes and negligence has not been entirely eliminated from the research process.

Research must eliminate errors from mistakes and negligence whether the research is conducted by a novice or an expert at research. Each researcher must ensure that their conduct is above reproach. Additionally, the panel that reviews the research process as it is carried and report before publication must ensure that the research meets the highest levels of standards and expectation. Even before publication, the report should be proofread and checked for common mistakes and negligence (Loue, 2000). Researchers who are found to have made mistakes and have been negligent should be punished for the same since it is incumbent upon them to ensure that the research has followed a rigorous process.

Working with a Mentor

Mentors are guides who review the research process and point out mistakes or make commendations. They facilitate the research process by ensuring that the research meets all the necessary requirements and guidelines (Comstock, 2013). Most educational institutions have a mentoring program that assigns prominent researchers to students who are carrying out the research. The mentor guides the student through the research, placing particular emphasis in ensuring that the research meets the institutional expectations.

There is no argument that a mentor is necessary for encouragement, expertise, and support. A student who has a diligent mentor should expect to complete successfully and defend their research before a panel of scholars. Additionally, it allows the student to gain the experience and knowledge that will permit them to be successful independent researchers. From as early as the research idea conceptualization to the final publication, a mentor guides the student at every step. Offering feedback and reprimands where necessary (Comstock, 2013).

Northcentral University requirements for IRB approval

The Northcentral University is an education institution. The federal government expects that an institution have an IRB since that is a federal requirement for any institutions that conducts research with human subjects. The institution has an IRB board that oversees all research activities in the institution by establishing research guidelines and ensuring that they are diligently observed. Essentially, the board conducts five primary activities. Firstly, it protects the privacy of the research subjects. Secondly, it guarantees the safety of the subjects and their data. Thirdly, it ensures that the subjects have signed an informed consent and were aware of what the research entails. Fourthly, it ensures that the subjects are selected randomly using a fair process. Finally, it provides that the subjects are not subjected to risks, with any risks minimized. In addition, the IRB ensures that the research is in compliance with all the relevant federal legislation concerning handling of human subjects and living matter. Before the research can be undertaken, the IRB must first approve the research proposal (Emanuel, 2008; Stark, 2012).


One must accept that research is a complex process, especially if it involves human subjects. If not diligently evaluated, the research can offer an opportunity for the students to be dishonest. The researcher must ensure that they diligently observe the ethical codes governing their research practice, including the principles set by their particular institution. Their failure to observe the ethical principles should attract stringent reprimands that deter such behavior in the future. Part of the principles should address plagiarism among researchers, assessment of the risks inherent in the research, informed consent, privacy and confidentiality, and data handling and reporting. Including a mentor in the research process will ensure that the researcher does not make any mistakes in the research process. The IRB provides additional reviews the context of ensuring that the research meets federal standards. Therefore, researchers must ensure that they observe some ethical standards even as they maintain the integrity and higher levels of ethics in the research process by exploring the research core values in the real world setting.


American Psychological Association (2014). Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct: Including 2010 Amendments. Retrieved from

Boomgaarden, J., Louhiala, P. & Wiesing, U. (2003). Issues in Medical Research Ethics. New York: Berghahn Books.

Committee on Science, Engineering and Public Policy, National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, & Institute of Medicine (2009). On being a scientist: A guide to responsible conduct in research (3rd ed.). Washington, D.C: National Academies Press.

Comstock, G. (2013). Research Ethics: A Philosophical Guide to the Responsible Conduct of Research. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Emanuel, E. (2008). The Oxford Textbook of Clinical Research Ethics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Howard, R., McLaughlin, G. & Knight, W. (2012). The Handbook of Institutional Research. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.

Israel, M. & Hay, I. (2006). Research Ethics for Social Scientists. Thousand Oaks, California: Pine Forge Press.

Loue, S. (2000). Textbook of Research Ethics: Theory and practice. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer Science & Business Media.

Mertens, D. & Ginsberg, P. (2009). The Handbook of Social Research Ethics. Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE Publications.

Oliver, P. (2010). The Student’s Guide to Research Ethics. New York: McGraw-Hill International.

Piccolo, F. & Thomas, H. (2012). Research Ethics Consultation: A casebook. Farnham: Ashgate Publishing.

Remenyi, D., Swan, N. & van den Assem, B. (2011). Ethics Protocols and Research Ethics Committees. London: Academic Conferences Limited.

Sales, B. & Folkman, S. (2000). Ethics in Research with Human Participants – Volume 9. Washington, D. C.: American Psychological Association.

Stark, L. (2012). Behind Closed Doors: IRBs and the Making of Ethical Research. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Stewart, C. (2011). Research Ethics for Scientists: A companion for students. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.

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