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A research must have a researcher, research tools, participants and an audience. This paper explores various ethical considerations that must be followed when seeking consents from participants.
Philosophical and Historical Background
Consent is a permission given to researchers to involve participants in a research process. This consent may be written or verbal depending on the nature of the study and the relation between the participant and researcher (Kim 2009). Philosophers believed that research consent is essential in all research involving human beings since it makes all parties concerned to be aware of the processes involved in the study.
This is based on previous attempts to conduct research without the consent of participants which led to complications (withdrawal of participants, insufficient cooperation and hostility) during the study (Comstock 2013). These challenges necessitated the need to develop ways of ensuring participants obey the agreement signed before the study started. Therefore, participants were compelled to play their roles until when the process is completed.
Ethical Issues in Articles 3.1-3.5
Article 3.1 explains that researchers must seek the participation of other people in the research by requesting them to be involved. This means that the researcher must not use force, manipulation, propaganda or gifts to persuade participants to agree to take part in the research (Comstock 2013).
Most research processes take a lot of time and this may force participants to withdraw from the process. This has serious effects on the outcomes of the research if the participant is forced to sit through the whole process. Therefore, it is necessary to obtain voluntary consent from the participant before commencing with the research.
Participants that volunteer to participate in research usually provide credible information in terms of accuracy and reliability. However, when a participant is forced to take part in a study the person may offer false information which will affect the research (Kim 2009).
However, this act should be amended to give the researcher the ability to determine the level of volunteerism and also use incentives to ensure sensitive information is collected from the participants. Gifts can play important roles in influencing the response from participants.
This article also states that consent can be cancelled and the participants to terminate their participation and withdraw their contributions in the research at anytime. This provision identifies the possibility of having various challenges that may interfere with the ability of the participant to provide useful information to the researcher. Issues like diseases and attitude are not easily predictable and may occur when the research is at a crucial stage.
Consequently, the researcher cannot insist that the participant must continue taking part in the research since this will be dictatorship. However, these acts should be amended to ensure participants withdraw from the research only when there is an inevitable and logical reason.
Article 3.2 demands that researchers should provide all information to participants to enable them to make informed choices regarding their participation in the research. This is an ethical consideration that ensures participants are aware of what is expected of them and thus they prepare physically and psychologically for the future events regarding the research.
It is important for the participants to know what the research will involve, its aims and objectives and the period the research is expected to take. This ensures the research does not interfere with other personal programmes.
Article 3.3 advocates for the need to maintain consent throughout the study and provide participants the data relevant to the ongoing project and consent. This part plays significant roles in ensuring participants are aware of their roles in the research. In addition, it guides the researcher in maintaining essential contact with participants (Shamoo 2009).
New research issues cannot be raised during the research process if they were not included in the initial stage. Therefore, this contact ensures the researcher and participants maintain the focus of the research by working within the terms and conditions agreed by both parties (Comstock 2013). However, this article should be amended to include unforeseen eventualities that may force the researcher to adjust terms of engagement.
Article 3.4 highlights the need to notify the participant of any incidental events or findings that may be discovered during the study. This issue must be addressed properly to avoid raising suspicions regarding the terms of engagement agreed earlier (Kim 2009).
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However, the researcher must conduct an elaborate review to minimise the possibilities of discovering any material or issue during the research. The presence of many discoveries during the research exposes the researcher and participants to tensions and this interferes with the outcomes of the research.
Article 3.5 states that the research cannot begin unless the researcher obtains consent from the participants or their third parties. This means that the above processes must be exhausted before the study commences (Macrina 2012). This provision ensures the researcher and participants reach an agreement before they get down to work. However, this article should specify the time required to reach an agreement between the researcher and participants to avoid wasting time in unnecessary negotiations.
Research is a complicated activity that requires proper planning and implementation of various procedures. A research is as good as the methods and approaches employed in collecting information, analysing and presenting it.
A good research can be distorted by poor recording or presentation of the data collected. In addition, a poor research cannot attain its goals no matter how well the results have been recorded or presented. Therefore, there must be logical agreements between the researcher and participants to ensure the research achieves its goals.
Comstock, G. (2013). Research Ethics: A Philosophical Guide to the Responsible Conduct of Research. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Kim, S. H. (2009). Evaluation of Capacity to Consent to Treatment and Research: Best
Practices in Forensic Mental Health Assessment. New York: Oxford University Press.
Macrina, F. L. (2012). Scientific Integrity: Text and Cases in Responsible Conduct of Research. New York: ASM Press.
Shamoo, A.E. (2009). Responsible Conduct of Research. New York: Oxford University Press.