FIVE ETHICAL GUIDELINES A RESEARCHER SHOULD CONSIDER WHEN CONDUCTING A RESEARCH
It is true that every development initiative depends upon research and that researches are now popular in the academic courses. Original research means that you will end up by making a contribution to knowledge that you will end up by making a contribution to knowledge that is novel and unique, and that creates a step forward in that particular branch of learning. In this paper, the author is going to examine any five ethical guidelines a researcher should consider when conducting research.
DEFINATION OF TERMS
The author will start by defining the following two terms: ethics and research. Chikutsa A & Chingozha M.P.I[2011:118] defines ethics as “the rightness or wrongness of an activity or act.” The author defines ethics as fair methods or techniques which can be applied or used in any activity or transaction .Research is defined by the Oxford Encyclopedic English Dictionary as [a] the systematic investigation into the study of materials, sources etc. in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions [b]an endeavor to discover new or collate old facts etc. by the scientific study of a subject or by a course of critical investigation ‘Leedy [1989:5] says “Research is a procedure by which we attempt to find systematically, and with the support of demonstrable fact, the answer to a question or the resolution of a problem” Dominowski[1980:2] defines research as “a fact finding activity.”
The first ethical consideration to be made when conducting a research is that of seeking consent before collecting information. According to Kumar R,[2005:212] a researcher must be able to justify the relevance and usefulness of the research which is about to be undertaken. “If you cannot justify the relevance of the research you are conducting, you are wasting your respondent’s time which is unethical” If the respondent is satisfied he/she will be in a position to consent to release information.
In addition to the above it is considered unethical to collect information without the knowledge of the participants, and their expressed willingness and informed consent. Williman N[2005:346] says there maybe several layers of consent required. For example, if participants to be interviewed works for a particular organization, then the top management of that organization, then the top management of that organization must be consulted and their consent obtained. The individual employees also must consent to be interviewed.Williman goes on to say clarity, brevity and frankness are key attributes in providing information on which consent is based. The form of consent must also be considered, whether verbal consent only is sufficient or written consent may also be required. Williman  says when dealing with organizations written consent is always required. He goes on to say getting information from vulnerable people such as children, the old, the handicapped etcetera require particular attention. The consent of those in charge of them is required.Chikutsa & Chingozha [2011:120] have got the following words to say informed consent “before the researcher can proceed with the research hahas to advise the subjects of any risks and consequences of the study. The respondents should thus provide their consent to participate in the research, based on what they know about the risks, benefits or consequences of participating in that research.”
The second ethical consideration in research is confidentiality. Kumar  say the confidentiality of interview participants must be protected. He says “make sure that at least the information provided by respondents is kept anonymous” and that it is unethical to identify an individual respondent. The words of Kumar R. are echoed by Deborah S  as she said ‘For example, it’s inappropriate to obtain contact information of members of a support group to solicit their participation in research’ Failure by the researcher to observe the above confidentiality rules are unethical. Chikutsa & Chingozha [2011:119] says information secured from the respondents should be used for the researcher purpose only. It should not be availed to other persons or institutions for whatever reasons without their consent. The researcher ought to ensure that the identity of participant is not traceable. “All information obtained from study should be treated in confidence and at no time should it be used against the subjects or for other hidden agendas. This is important as it ensures that the information so obtained is not used to discredit the reputation of the subjects who will have honestly participated in the first place” [ibid].
The third ethical consideration when carrying out a research is that of ensuring that participants are protected from harm. Bailey [1978:384] as quoted in Kumar  says “Harm includes ‘not only hazardous medical experiments but also any social research that might involve such things as discomfort, anxiety, harassment, invasion of privacy, or demeaning or dehumanizing procedures.’ That means the subjects of the research should be protected from any possible psychological, physical or any other harm.
The fourth ethical consideration when conducting a research is the avoidance of deception. Walliman N [2005:350] says an ethically sound approach to research is based on the principle of honesty. Researchers must be truthful and inform the subject of their true intentions in carrying out the research. Deception is to be avoided. A paper titled “Ethics in Medicine” says “As a general rule, deception is not acceptable when doing research with humans. Using deception jeopardizes the integrity of the informed consent process and can potentially harm your participants.” So deception is unethical in research.
The fifth ethical consideration when conducting a research is the privacy of participants. Chikutsa & Chingozha [2011:121] argues that the privacy of the respondents should that the privacy of the respondents should be guaranteed .Privacy may be protected through seeking proper authority from management if conducting a research at an organization. The researcher must be aware that people had a right to privacy which must not be abused or infringed by a researcher. “It is grossly unethical therefore for any researcher to force or bulldoze his/her way into the private life of the research participants.
The author had attempted to discuss five ethical considerations considered when carrying out a research namely; consent of participants when collecting information, confidentiality of the subjects, protecting participants from physical psychological economic or any other harm, the avoidance of deception and the adherence to truthfulness and lastly protecting the subjects’ privacy. Violating any of the above ethical principles is unethical.
WALLIMAN N,2005,Your Research Project 2nd Edition,Sage Books,Los Angels,USA
UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON School of Medicine,-,Ethics in Medicine,found online www.washington.edu/biothx/topics/resrch/htm
Wikipedia,Research Ethics- en.wikipedia.org/wiki/research-ethics
Deborah S,2003,Five Principles for research ethics Vol 34 No1,American Psychological Association,USA
KUMAR R,2005,Research Methodology,A step-by-step Guide for Beginners 2nd ed,Sage Publications,London,Uk
Chikutsa A & Chingozha M.P.I,2011,Research Methods,ZOU,HARARE,ZIMBABWE