Compromising Ethics

When talking about research ethics, I cannot help but think about the flip side of the situation: how many research pursuits have been compromised in order to comply with research ethic guidelines. I imagine that there have been many instances where the parameters of one’s area of inquiry, research questions, and/or methodology have had to be reconceptualised in order to correlate to what is considered to be acceptable practices. As such, the findings of such research may not reach the ideal conclusions. While I am not opposed to adherences to ethical practices, and very much believe that they need to be in place to protect the best interest of participants, I am left asking whether, for certain kinds of experimental/controversial/cutting edge research practices, safeguarding the parties involved have, perhaps, thwarted serious breakthroughs. On a more utilitarian/Machiavellian note, might potentially compromising a few be worthwhile if the benefits to the whole cannot be otherwise surmountable? This is a very scary line insofar as humanity is then viewed and treated as a means, which begs the larger question: to what end? 

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One Comment on “Compromising Ethics”

  1. munusami says:

    Melissa,I can see how research pursuits can be compromised in other to comply with research ethics guidelines. In my research proposal I made sure to address all the foreseeable ethical dilemmas. When conducting research online, and taking quotes from people who have posted their opinions online, it is important to hide the identities of people because with a simple Google search it could be easy to trace comments in your paper back to its original author. How do you get around something like that? In my research the best thing you can really do is just rephrase the comments before putting it into your research. That can change what the person says, or what the person means, but I guess that’s just what you have to do because above all, as academics, we need to protect the rights of the individuals we are studying because studies in the past have not always taken that into consideration. I’m glad that research ethics has come a long way since the Nuremberg Code. As researchers we just need to think of creative ways to present our findings and protect the people who were good enough to be participants in our studies.


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