7400.685-080 - Research Methods in FCS
School of Family and Consumer Sciences
Spring Semesters - Tuesday Evenings 5:20-7:55pm in 209 Schrank Hall South
Instructor: David D. Witt, Ph.D.
Ethical Considerations in Research

Ethical Considerations in Doing Research
The U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services - Regulations
Researchers working under the auspices of major institutions, such as universities, hospitals, government agencies, and so on have been charged with protecting the rights of human subjects (i.e., the people who are recruited to partake in scientific research). Thus research involving human subjects has been governed by federal regulations since the 1960s. The U.S. Dept. of H.H.S. regularly updates national policies regarding the protection of human subjects. The regulations are can be found at http://grants2.nih.gov/grants/policy/hs/

The AAUP, Human Subjects, and Academic Freedom

Everyone should have a firm understanding of Academic Freedom and what it does and does not entail. The American Association of University Professors adopted its Statement on Academic Freedom and Tenure in 1940.  This document has served the academic community and is cited in virtually every major institution of higher education in the country. In the 1960s, partly because of a few highly inappropriate and damaging research efforts, long overdue federal regulations (see above) were established. To further define the limitations of both sides of the ethics issue, AAUP's Committee A issued its report, the current revision of which can be found at http://www.aaup.org/AAUP/About/committees/committee+repts/CommA/ResearchonHumanSubjects.htm?PF=1.

At the University of Akron
All persons employed by the University of Akron must comply with the policies and principles set forth by UA's Institutional Review Board (the IRB, or sometimes referred to as the Human Subjects Commitee). Guidelines for research involving human subjects can be found at http://www.uakron.edu/research/orssp/irb/ which is the "manual" for compliance.   There is also a page listing links to various forms needed for researchers to complete, return and await permission to continue gathering data at http://www.uakron.edu/research/orssp/irb/appforms.dot. When human subjects are to be  involved in a research project proposed by faculty and graduate students alike, must be approved by UA's IRB to insure compliance.

Basic protections of human subjects center around the concepts of anonymity and safety. Thus care must be taken in advance to protect the identity of respondents (subjects).  This may mean that no one, except the subjects themselves, can identify anyone participating in a research project. By following guidelines and obtaining the permission of the institution's IRB to conduct research, the researchers are also protecting the institution from litigation, and protecting themselves as well.

Usually, Stanley Milgram's http://www.stanleymilgram.com/milgram.php now famous experimental study of obedience to authority is mentioned.  In this landmark study subjects were asked to apply electric shock to a protesting victim.  No one was actually physically harmed in these studies, the subjects themselves were not made aware that the victims were actors. Thus, the subjects safety was unattended.   Other ethical lapses can be found in social and medical science.  The Tuskegee Syphilis study is one such experiment in which a selection of infected black males were observed without medical treatment for their disease until their ultimate demise.  This study lasted from 1932 until 1972 http://www.cdc.gov/nchstp/od/tuskegee/time.htm.  Obviously, there are many problem areas of human social life deserving of study. Fortunately, there are other research methods to be used that would not violate basic human rights in the process of analysis.