Ethical Issues in Educational Research

Ethics concern with all the human interaction, including human research (Australian Vice-Chancellor’s committee, 2007). Educational research is a part of human research which has potential ethical problems. Therefore, “Each stage in the research sequence may be a potential source of ethical problems (Cohen, et.al, 2000, p.49). There are “three primary ethical principles: (1)autonomy and self-determination, (2) beneficence, (3) Justice” (Antle & Regehr, 2003, p.136). “Ethical concerns arise in connection with core values the researcher holds, as in the case of honesty or justice (Kakabadse, Kakabadse, & Kouzmin, 2002, p.107). Therefore, the researchers feel that the ethical rules will limit their effectiveness doing research (Burns, 1996). However, the ethics is the part important of the research process. Therefore, in my research, I try to investigate it carefully to cope with the ethical problems. There are several ethical issues while I am conducting my research: access and acceptance, informed consent, privacy and confidentiality, misinterpretation and misrepresenting of data.

The first ethical issue is access and acceptance. “The initial stage of research project-that of access to the institution or organization where the research to be conducted, and acceptance by those whose permission one needs before embarking the task” (Cohen, et.al., 2000, p.53). Furthermore, “access to personal records, both as a primary or secondary source of data, must be approached both ethically and legally (Anderson & Arsenault, 1998, p.21). In this research, I will investigate the laboratory activities in my university, interview my colleagues, analytical chemistry lecturers, students, my assistants, and laboratory staff, analyze some official documents such as a practicum book and students’ experiment report. Therefore, I need to get the permission from my head department to do this research. I will inform the information about the aims, nature and procedures of this research (Cohen, et.al., 2000). I hope that the information will help me to get access and acceptance to my research. Through this access and acceptance, I can do the interviews which will be done through the emails, and my assistant will send the documents and the practicum book through mail. I also need stories from others who help me apply green chemistry approaches and metacognitive skills. Therefore, I need to get access and acceptance. I realize that “achieving goodwill and co-operation is especially important where the proposed research extends over a period time” (Cohen, et.al., 2000, p.54).

The informed consent (see appendix 1.) will offer the information to the participants about “the nature and the purpose of the research, the risks, and benefits” (Anderson & Arsenault, 1998, p.18). Furthermore, “Informed consent is a central canon of research ethics policy ( Halse & Honey, 2005, p. 2148). According to Anderson & Arsenault (1998), my informed consent will involves the purpose of the research, risks and discomfort, benefits, participant’s right and statement. I realize that my informed consent have to “ensure the individual’s mental capacity, disclose sufficient information, provide suffiecient time and privacy, provide the safeguard, ensure the individual’s awareness” (Antle & Regehr, 2003, p.137).

My research will involve the semistructured interviews such as participants’ opionion, subjectivity, relationship, and life story. I try to meet the ethics requirements through giving list of interview questions for my participants (see appendix 2 for interview protocol). I also will give information of the time consuming and the process of interviews.

Privacy and confidentially need to be addressed. I will explore the phenomenon of my students’ opinions and behaviours when I applied metacognitive skills and green chemistry approaches. Some stories will be related with their personal experiences, such as their misunderstanding. Therefore, I have to respect their individual privacy. “It is the duty of researcher to protect the identity of individuals, there is a distinction between one’s public role and private life” (Anderson & Arsenault, 1998, p.21). I also have to be aware with my institution privacy, because I will describe some of the weakness of the laboratory in my department such as safety and management. “ Having emphaty can be beneficial in research…if [the confidential information is] not handle correctly, can cause discomfort and even a job loss” ( Goffee & Jones, 2000 as cited in Kakabadse, Kakabadse, & Kouzmin, 2002, p.122). Keeping the participants and institution as anonymous as possible, using the promise of confidential (Anderson & Arsenault, 1998; Cohen, et.al, 2000). I also have to protect my privacy which related with my professional development. The risk that I will face is investigating the background of applying green chemistry approaches. I need to describe how the weakness of safety and management in laboratory, such as using the dangerous chemical substances. The story will relate to the reputation of university and some people who include in this story. It is also related to my professional development as a lecturer when I am back to my university. However, the story is very important because the accident which caused me poisoned, motivated me to improve the quality of the laboratory such as using green chemistry approaches. Therefore, I need to use the appropriate language to describe it properly. I also need to protect the name and the way to access the private information. In addition, I will use pseudonym through changing my participants’ name. Hence, the information will not be published or used for any other purposes from this research.

Adequate interpretation and representation of data must be addressed. My subjectivity can influence the research process and the possibility of interpretation and respresentation of data (Kakabadse, Kakabadse, & Kouzmin, 2002). I realize that I have to remember my experiences one year ago when I applied metacognitive skills and green chemistry approaches. It is not only difficult for me to interpret my experiences but also other peoples’ perspective and behaviour. Therefore, I will ask them to write the stories on the same phenomena to check my stories from a different perspective. This form of member checking will be important to avoid the misinterpretation of my stories. This collaboration will reduce “the potential gap between narrative told and narrative reported” (Clandini & Connelly, 2000 as cited in Creswell, 2005, p. 483). The narrative inquiry is the predominant method that I will use in this research. Therefore, my stories and other people’s stories will be represented to answer my research questions. I have to be aware that I cannot only focus to answer my research questions but also I have to outweigh the risks and benefits to professional development, my institution participants, and myself. Therefore, I will ask my participants to comment on relevant parts of my report which represent their perceptions, behaviour and cultural context (Cohen, et.al, 2000). Therefore, I need to “be compassionate to individuals and avoid language that discriminates on basis of gender, sexual orientation, race or ethnic group” (Creswell, 2005, p.11). The appropriate language will help me to avoid this conflict.

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11 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by P Nketia on February 22, 2009 at 7:24 pm

    I am requied to write Ethical refelection on a research proposal assignment as part of my B.Ed. course. I needed a sample to give me a good idea how it should go and I think your work has really helped me. unfortunatly you did not provide a full list of reference cited in your work so I could follow them up. Definitely I may take some ideas from your work and I would need to cite references in order to avoid committing the unpardonable acedemic sin – the P-word. how could i do this with regards to your work?
    I would really appreciate a reply. thanks for this work
    Patrick

    Reply

  2. Not that I’m impressed a lot, but this is more than I expected when I stumpled upon a link on Furl telling that the info here is quite decent. Thanks.

    Reply

  3. Posted by Josephine on November 6, 2009 at 11:37 pm

    Hello Yuliramawati,

    I am studying Educational Leadership in the USA.
    English is not my 1st language; and must have a language broken nearby. It is very difficult at times interprating and writing down my thoughts.
    The assignment for this week; is to locate a research Journal and Author referencing them and their articles which covers my research topic on education Inequalities wrapping around this weeks Paradigm Assumption on Research Methods; Quantitative method of gathering data for as a first step directed on Positivism, and Post-Positivism. May I use your article as one of my sources to reference and cite; Yulirahmawati? I will purchase your book as soon as I’m able to do so financially; and admire your articles. I would like to stay in contact with you, if it is ok, as a pin- pal.

    From Josephine
    I really love and agree with definitions regarding these two methods.

    Reply

  4. Posted by yulirahmawati on November 7, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    Dear Josephine…

    Thanks for visiting my blog. That must be challenging for studying leadership. English is also not my first language as well. That is the struggling.
    I believe you can do that. Anyway, I am tutoring a Research Methods Unit at the university in Australia. Your assignment is part of that unit. I am not sure if my writing in this blog can be used as a reference. However, you can find the references of my writing on several books, such as:
    1. Creswell, J. (2005). Educational research: Planning, conducting, and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research. New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall.
    2. Willis, J.W. (2007). Foundation of qualitative research: Interpretive and critical approaches. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publication.
    etc..

    Each research paradigm such as positivism and positivism has their own characters..Willis’ book will help you a lot.

    Just send me an email on yuli.chem@gmail.com, so we can discuss it..;))

    Hope it helps or just let me know if you have any other inquiries

    All best,

    Yuli

    Reply

  5. Posted by Trang Nguyen on March 24, 2010 at 5:29 pm

    I’m really grateful your article here, I ask for permission of quoting some information.Thanks once more.
    Besides, if you don’t mind, please let me know the reference list of some your quotation in the article, I need it, indeed.

    Have a nice day!

    Reply

  6. Posted by suleiman on July 30, 2010 at 9:40 am

    i need the identify and discuss the ethical issues in educational research

    Reply

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  8. Posted by sonto on September 18, 2012 at 11:48 am

    where is your bibliography

    Reply

  9. Posted by mian sharaf on June 21, 2013 at 7:33 am

    what is access and acceptance in educational research?

    Reply

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