In doing research, there are five main
ethical pillars that must be followed by researcher. First, minimize the risk
of harm to participants. This principle stress on how a research should not
harm participants by considering all aspects 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). Discomfort and harm can be
physiological, emotional, social and economic in nature (Burns N., 2005). By
acknowledging these risk aspects, interventions to avoid or minimizing the risk
of harm could be taken by researcher.
Second, attain informed consent from
participants. 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 comprehensible and simple language on the benefits and possible
risks ahead of the participant’s involvement in the research, so that participant
can make a well-informed judgement about participation. Informed consent is not
just a form, but a process, 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. In some cases, that
involve people with low autonomy such as young children, very ill people or
mentally disables, they could only be included in research under specific
circumstances, as they not able to make fully informed decisions on their own.
They should always be protected.
The third component of research ethics
is by ensuring the anonymity and individuality of research participants. Protecting
anonymity of information from participants means that either the researcher
does not collect personal information of participants such as name, address,
email, job, year of services or the researcher does not link individual
responses with participants’ identities. Unless it is necessarily essential to
the aimed protocol, participant’s personal details should be keep ‘anonymous’
to protect the participant confidentiality. Nonetheless, permission should be
obtained before any confidential information is used.
Forth principle of research ethics is to
reject 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 in doubt.
Therefore, dissertation research should avert any types of deceptive practices.
However, deception is sometimes being allowed 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 needs an
observation rather than through direct contact with participants, for example;
observing what type of customers who like giving tips in the tip jar.
Lastly, allowing the 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 time without revealing the reason
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 result to a low-quality research study.