I took the CITI course almost two years ago, but I went back and took some tests to refresh my memory. I did re-learn some thins through the course, but by and large I didn’t relate much in terms of my own experiences and understandings. I don’t have much personal experience with ethics and ethical dilemmas (which I would say is a good thing?) so I wasn’t able to fully relate to the work. That being said, I did gain a deeper and better understanding of potential ethical issues in general.
After reading the first article about the VCU study with twins, I can see a few ethical implications. Like the father said, it could be seen as an invasion of privacy for everyone who is involved whether its tangentially or not. This brings up the issue of confidentiality and informed consent. Can someone consent when they don’t even know they’re being studied? Their information should be kept confidential, even though they aren’t directly involved, right?
There was also the issue of IRB regulations. While they do have a set standard of regulations, there is still some room for interpretation between boards. But is requiring the boards to screen more really going to help research, or simply bog down researchers with more administrative tasks? There comes a point when there is too much.
I think that, at times, researchers do come across difficult decisions that cannot be easily solved. Promising compensation for participation could be seen as coercion or undermining informed consent. When researching children, it’s hard to make sure you aren’t overstepping any boundaries with the parents of the kids. These types of situations and more are difficult to traverse, and that is what the IRB is for. In murkier cases, researchers should defer back to the IRB to make sure their decisions are ethically sound. While we would like to avoid too much administrative tasks in order to conduct research, there’s no denying that the safety of the subjects comes first. There should be more regulations in place in order to make research standards clearer and easier to follow.
In light of everything we’ve read, I feel like there are quite a few issues that could arise when studying social phenomena. One pertinent issue is confidentiality vs. anonymity. For example, a researcher focusing upon the sociology of higher education may want to interview freshman students against transfer students to better understand how they feel about their cost of attendance and their sunk cost into their experience within the sphere of higher education. In order to do this, students would be asked to disclose their financial status, their parents’ or legal guardians’ financial status, their personal experiences within their institution and more. With this personal information, it would be understandable that a student would refuse or, at the very least, be reluctant to disclose this due to possible stigmatization. It is incredibly important to clearly distinguish between when a respondent is anonymous as opposed to their information being confidential. We have an obligation as researchers to make sure this line is well understood, instead of using these terms interchangeably when we clearly know better than this.
There is also the issue of deception when researching. While I may not fully understand all of the nuances of social research, I can certainly see how this can complicate research. In my personal experience, I was collecting data from multiple people on their usage of Pokémon Go. I went into multiple Facebook groups and spoke with the admins before posting within their groups. I thought to myself if I should or should not be completely honest upfront with the people I was speaking with. I wondered if maybe I should present myself as an independent researcher, or if I should use my university affiliation in order to provide legitimacy. In the end, I decided to be honest in the beginning and it worked in my favor. I received a plethora of responses from around the country, which was excellent. While I may not have had to use deception to achieve my goal, I could see reasons why. In some cases, the ends could justify the means such as the “Tearoom Trade” study. Thanks to Humphreys, there was more research done on the interactions of men who participate in these casual sex acts. There was even another study done called the “technological tearoom trade”.
Although deception shouldn’t be the first thought a researcher has, it is undeniably useful. However, as a community we have to make sure that people are held accountable and are indeed using deceit for the best purposes of the study.
Hello everyone! My name is Qarahn Anbiya, but everyone calls me Q. I’m currently a non-degree seeking grad student, and hoping to move into the master’s of sociology program for the fall of 2017.
I’m from Fredericksburg, VA, and I just received my BS in sociology from VCU this past December. I absolutely love anything related to Pokémon or Harry Potter related. My favorite kinds of books are fantasy, sci-fi, and dystopian novels. I have a huge passion for the sphere of higher education. Also, on the weekends I play Quidditch and travel with my friends to play teams in other states.
I’ve had some experience with collecting original quantitative data, and I’ve done a good amount of reading on the topic of research itself. As it stands, I have a preference for qualitative over quantitative, but we’ll see how that is by the end of the semester!
I’m honestly very concerned about our research proposal having to be mixed methods. I’ve done quantitative data collection and analysis, and I wasn’t good at it at all. I’m a friendly person, so qualitative comes more naturally for me since I get to deal with people more often. However, I hope to learn how to become better at dealing with quantitative data, and I have every intention of doing my very best to make an excellent proposal for the end of the semester.