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In doing research, there are five main
ethical principles that must be followed by researcher. A researcher need to: 1)
minimise the risk of harm to participants; 2) attain informed consent from
participants; 3) protect participant’s anonymity and confidentially; 4) avoid using
deceptive practices; and 5) provide participants the right to withdraw from
research. The core of these ethical principles emphasizes on do good and give
benefit while avoiding harm and maleficent. These ethical requirements in
research are important not only for ethical reasons, but
also practical ones, since a failure to meet such basic
principles may lead to the research being criticised and rejected by Ethics
Committee, costing valuable time.

Principle one stress on how a
dissertation research should not harm participants by considering all aspects
and types that could bring harm such as physical harm, psychological distress
and discomfort, social disadvantage, financial status or an invasion of
participant’s privacy and anonymity. Non-maleficence requires a high level of
sensitivity from the researcher about what constitutes “harm” (Ford
L., 2009). According to Burns and Grove “discomfort and harm can be
physiological, emotional, social and economic in nature”. By acknowledging these
risk aspects, interventions to avoid or minimizing the risk of harm could be
taken by researcher.

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The idea of informed consent is one of
the foundations of research. Informed consent means the knowing consent of a
person without undue inducement or any element of force, extortion, duress or
any other form of constraint or coercion. It is the researcher’s responsibility
to provide sufficient information in understandable language on the benefits
and possible risks prior to their involvement in the research, so that
participant can make an informed judgement about participation. Informed
consent is a process, not a form, when it was done appropriately, the process
assures that participants are willingly participating in the research with full
knowledge and information of relevant risks and benefits. Those people with
diminished autonomy such as young children, very ill people or mentally disable
should be protected. They could only be included in research under specific
circumstances, as they not able to make fully informed decisions on their own.

Another practical component of research
ethics is by protecting the anonymity and confidentiality of research
participants. Protecting anonymity of information collected from participants
means that either the researcher does not collect personal information of
participants such as name, address, email address, job title, length of
services or the researcher does not link individual responses with
participants’ identities. Unless it is necessarily essential to the study protocol,
participant’s personal details should be keep ‘anonymous’ to protect the
participant identity. Nonetheless, permission should be obtained before any
confidential information is disclosed.

Another principle of research ethics is
a dissertation research should avoid any kinds of deceptive
practices. Deceptive may not be seen as an issue if an informed consent has been
performed, however the question is, how can the participants know what the
research requires of them if they are being deceived? this question makes the
use of deceptive practices controversial. Therefore, dissertation research should
avert any types of deceptive practices. However, deception is sometimes needed
in covert research where the identity of the observer and the purpose of the
research is not known to participants. This is most likely to be the case where
a research requires an observation rather than direct contact with
participants, for example; observing what customers are doing in an internet
chat room.

Lastly, providing the right of
participants to withdraw is one of the principles of research ethics that
should be followed by researcher. Participants should have the right to
withdraw from the research process at any stage and when the decision to
withdraw was made, the participant should not be pressured or coerced in any
way in order to stop them from withdrawing. According to Good Clinical Practice
(GCP) guidelines, an individual can withdraw from research at any point of time
and it is no binding of the participant to reveal the reason of

These basic principles of research
ethics should be taken into account when performing a research as it can help
to ensure that researchers can be held accountable to the public, in terms of
human right, social responsibility and public health and safety. Researchers
should be reminded that any ethical lapses in research can significantly harm
the subjects and lead to low quality research study.   

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