Ethics refer to the morality of doing something and ethical questions relating to research involve beliefs about what a researcher should or should not do before, during and after their research. As a matter of course, this normally includes considering both legal and safety issues
- Legal considerations include things like:
- Legality: e.g. Breaching Data Protection laws, participating in or encouraging criminal behaviour.
- Power: e.g. bullying or blackmailing (emotionally or physically).
- Mistreating (physically or verbally) or misleading participants.
- Getting the informed consent of those being researched.
- Safety considerations include things like:
- Ensuring the physical and psychological safety of researcher and respondent
- Not causing distress to potentially vulnerable people.
There is another ethical dimension we can add that relates to neither of these areas, but which is nevertheless an important ethical consideration and concern, namely the sources of any research funding. “Who pays?” (and more pertinently perhaps, “What do they want in return for their money?”) is an ethical dimension to socio-psychology research that’s worth remembering