Week-10: Final discussion.

For your final discussion post, summarize the ethical issue that you identified in your Module Eight short paper and describe how you would address the issue to comply with both legal and professional standards of practice.

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Matthew Phillips
QSO-500-R2026 Business Research 17TW2
January 14th 2017
Dr. Deane Desper
Ethics in Research Assignment
In the first research study, ?Ethical issues in using the internet in research: commentary?,
the author examines the impact of brain damage from traffic accidents on subjects in two
countries. In the research, the author discusses the ethical principles of autonomy, maleficence,
and avoidance of harm when conducting research using human participants (McGee, 2008). In
the second case study, ?Ethical issues in qualitative research on internet communities?, the
author examines the potential ethical concerns involved with internet based research including
privacy and informed consent (Eysenbach & Till, 2001). Ethics in research establish boundaries
need to protect human participants and constrains the actions of the researcher.
When conducting research with human participants, there are several ethical concerns.
When conducting research with human participants using the internet, it is essential to
understand the potential ethical concerns associated with conducting research using the internet.
Important ethical issues discussed in the case studies includes autonomy, avoidance of harm, and
informed consent. Autonomy is allowing the research participant the right to choose. With
participants who suffered head trauma, autonomy is especially significant. These participants are
vulnerable because of their cognitive impairment.
Autonomy is relevant to the case study by Eysenbach & Till (2001) because conducting
qualitative research can result in the removal of barrier associated with time and access. The
internet allows for greater access to data which could potentially violate the privacy of research
subjects. Research subjects are afforded autonomy or given a choice in their participation in
research. If their personal data is made readily available on the internet, it could be potentially
used in other research without the participants permission. Secondly, the internet creates ethical
concerns about harm, especially when the privacy of the participant is violated.
Privacy is another important ethical concern. Participants in research have the right to
have their confidential information kept private. For participants with head trauma, there is the
concern of privacy of medical record as well as the participants identity. The same is true when
conducting qualitative research. The internet has opened many avenues which could result in the
privacy of the participant being violated. For example, information can be sold to researcher on
the internet resulting in participants being denied an opportunity to consent and a risk to their
privacy being violated. For example, selling the name and email addresses of participants on a
voluntary breast cancer site (Eysenbach & Till, 2001).
Before any research can be conducted, human participants must give informed consent. It
can be difficult to determine if participant has given consent, if they cannot consent because of
head trauma or if they do not give consent directly to researcher in a face to face setting, there is
no way for the researcher to be 100% sure informed consent was given. According to McGee
(2008), the sample used in research comparing the quality of life of people with head trauma in
two countries, preferred to complete a survey over the internet using email instead of in a face to
face setting.
When using the internet, it is especially important to ensure the participant gives
informed consent. To obtain informed consent, researchers must full explain the research to the
participant before obtained their written consent (Eysenbach & Till, 2001). Using the internet
can make it more difficult to obtain, written informed consent. When researchers gather
qualitative research from online sources, informed consent is not always provided to researcher.
Many researchers will seek out participants from internet communities (Eysenbach & Till, 2001).
Researchers will examine the participants without their permission (Eysenbach & Till, 2001).
This creates a risk for the ethical rights of the participant being violated especially when they did
not give their consent to become a research participant.
Avoidance of harm is another ethical concern. For participants who experienced head
trauma, it is essential for researchers to take the steps to ensure their ethical rights are upheld.
Researchers must consider the potential for harm before proceeding. ?Data collection is likely to
remind participants of very painful experiences: the events surrounding their trauma, being in
hospital, fear of death, changes in family relationships and coping with, what for some, may be a
profound disability and loss of independence? (McGee, 2008, p. 118). The researcher must
understand the unique needs of the research participant to avoid any harm.
One ethical issue that can be addressed is informed consent. Laws should be created
requiring researchers to get permission from research participants. For example, when a person
joins an online community, there behavior should not be examined by researchers without first
getting their written permission or by giving them the right to opt out. The internet is a great tool
for research, but it can also cause an intrusion into lives of consumers or citizens who did not opt
to enhance in the research. Laws will help deter researchers from examining people online
without getting their informed consent.
Ethics in research protects human research participants from coming to any harm. When
conducting online research, there are no specific guidelines in place, researchers must apply
research ethics to making sure they do what is best for the participants and not what is best for
the research. This includes obtaining informed consent, protecting their privacy, and ensuring the
participant does not come to any harm.
Eysenbach, G. & Till, J. (2001). Ethical issues in qualitative research on internet communities.
British Medical Journal, 323, 1103?5
McGee, P. (2008). Ethical issues in using the internet in research: commentary. Research Ethics
Review, 4(3), 117?11

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