In doing research, there are five mainethical principles that must be followed by researcher. A researcher need to: 1)minimise the risk of harm to participants; 2) attain informed consent fromparticipants; 3) protect participant’s anonymity and confidentially; 4) avoid usingdeceptive practices; and 5) provide participants the right to withdraw fromresearch.
The core of these ethical principles emphasizes on do good and givebenefit while avoiding harm and maleficent. These ethical requirements inresearch are important not only for ethical reasons, butalso practical ones, since a failure to meet such basicprinciples may lead to the research being criticised and rejected by EthicsCommittee, costing valuable time. Principle one stress on how adissertation research should not harm participants by considering all aspectsand types that could bring harm such as physical harm, psychological distressand discomfort, social disadvantage, financial status or an invasion ofparticipant’s privacy and anonymity.
Non-maleficence requires a high level ofsensitivity from the researcher about what constitutes “harm” (FordL., 2009). According to Burns and Grove “discomfort and harm can bephysiological, emotional, social and economic in nature”. By acknowledging theserisk aspects, interventions to avoid or minimizing the risk of harm could betaken by researcher. The idea of informed consent is one ofthe foundations of research. Informed consent means the knowing consent of aperson without undue inducement or any element of force, extortion, duress orany other form of constraint or coercion. It is the researcher’s responsibilityto provide sufficient information in understandable language on the benefitsand possible risks prior to their involvement in the research, so thatparticipant can make an informed judgement about participation. Informedconsent is a process, not a form, when it was done appropriately, the processassures that participants are willingly participating in the research with fullknowledge and information of relevant risks and benefits.
Those people withdiminished autonomy such as young children, very ill people or mentally disableshould be protected. They could only be included in research under specificcircumstances, as they not able to make fully informed decisions on their own. Another practical component of researchethics is by protecting the anonymity and confidentiality of researchparticipants. Protecting anonymity of information collected from participantsmeans that either the researcher does not collect personal information ofparticipants such as name, address, email address, job title, length ofservices or the researcher does not link individual responses withparticipants’ identities. Unless it is necessarily essential to the study protocol,participant’s personal details should be keep ‘anonymous’ to protect theparticipant identity. Nonetheless, permission should be obtained before anyconfidential information is disclosed. Another principle of research ethics isa dissertation research should avoid any kinds of deceptivepractices. Deceptive may not be seen as an issue if an informed consent has beenperformed, however the question is, how can the participants know what theresearch requires of them if they are being deceived? this question makes theuse of deceptive practices controversial.
Therefore, dissertation research shouldavert any types of deceptive practices. However, deception is sometimes neededin covert research where the identity of the observer and the purpose of theresearch is not known to participants. This is most likely to be the case wherea research requires an observation rather than direct contact withparticipants, for example; observing what customers are doing in an internetchat room.Lastly, providing the right ofparticipants to withdraw is one of the principles of research ethics thatshould be followed by researcher.
Participants should have the right towithdraw from the research process at any stage and when the decision towithdraw was made, the participant should not be pressured or coerced in anyway in order to stop them from withdrawing. According to Good Clinical Practice(GCP) guidelines, an individual can withdraw from research at any point of timeand it is no binding of the participant to reveal the reason ofdiscontinuation. These basic principles of researchethics should be taken into account when performing a research as it can helpto ensure that researchers can be held accountable to the public, in terms ofhuman right, social responsibility and public health and safety.
Researchersshould be reminded that any ethical lapses in research can significantly harmthe subjects and lead to low quality research study.