Research ethics revisited

We discussed ethics in our method’s course again a bit yesterday and reached the conclusion that the ethics guidelines are just that – guidelines, meaning they are adaptive for one’s research situation. Aspects that are not adaptive and crucial for all researchers are: 1) Give people the chance to NOT consent – people have a right to say ‘No’; 2) Informed consent – make sure your subjects understand the nature of your study (with some exceptions in Psychology). While the ethical clearance form helps one work out practical details beforehand, we need to think of ethical ramifications every step of the way. When in doubt, speak to your supervisor or a member of the ethics committee. For students first encountering ethics, it sounds like extra paperwork and a real pain, but it is very important to make sure everything is in place so that you do not get into trouble later on. Also, if you are an aspiring academic, there are situations that could potentially ruin your reputation. As students, we don’t always have the competence or research maturity to understand particular consequences, so supervisor support, understanding and guidance is vital. I’m very happy that mine has taught me so much:)