Whichever prompt you choose, please explain your response by balancing the principles of respect, beneficence, and justice. It may also be useful to refer to issues like anonymity, confidentiality, integrity, or IRB.
There are no correct answers to the prompts, although there may be incorrect responses that clearly violate research ethics. The paper will be evaluated based on the accuracy and complexity of its application of ethical principles. (You may want to elaborate on the hypothetical details of the case in your response. That is OK if it helps you discuss the ethical issues in more concrete terms.)
The point of this assignment is to get you to balance the three principles of ethical research. Talk through the gray areas in whichever prompt you choose.
You work for a nonprofit organisation that serves youths and young adults who are at-risk of dropping out of school or being arrested. The organisation decides to conduct a study of all local youths’ and young adults’ Facebook profiles in order to better understand the social pressures on at-risk students, and to improve services.
The names of the individuals are removed from the data set. In your response, discuss the ethical dilemmas at each of the following stages of the project, and how you would resolve them.
Accessing publicly available social media data without permission
Publishing the research findings on the organisation’s website
Sharing the data set with other local nonprofits
You are hired by a private company as a consultant to conduct a research project interviewing former prison inmates to assess their consumer needs for services on the labour market.
Someone you interview is later suspected by the police of committing a crime. Although your data are anonymously stored and protected by confidentiality agreements, the police ask you to hand over the interview data for that participant. Furthermore, the company that hired you pressures you to comply because they are worried about the optics of not complying with the police. What do you do?
You are an academic who wants to study a workplace from every perspective within the company. You first discuss the project with management.
They offer to give you access for interviewing managers and salaried employees, and to observe the workplace if managers are present. However, they do not allow you to talk with wage employees in private, nor to collect contact information for wage employees.
You have reason to suspect the company mistreats its wage employees and violates labour laws. You are also under pressure to publish in order to keep your current job, and there is not enough time to start another research project. Which option do you choose?
Go ahead with the project under the conditions offered, and be transparent about the limitations of the study in the research report.
Go ahead with the project under the conditions offered, but also secretly gather contact information from the wage employees to interview them in private.
Cancel the research project.