Chapter 2: Ethics in Research

2.1 A Humanistic Approach to Research

As the previous section demonstrates, the concept of ethics in research is more complicated than simply considering whether the research is right or wrong. Indeed, all researchers are expected to adhere to minimum standards. Even these minimum standards can be less than straightforward; however, and as a result, research is typically regulated by codes or standards that are outlined by associations, societies and universities, to minimize the risk that research participants are harmed.

Researchers have not only a humanistic obligation to care for those who participate in their research, but also a scientific obligation to uncover information that benefits society. Ultimately, researchers are asked to minimize harm (and the risk of harm) to their participants (human and animal). As it relates specifically to humans, this harm could be mental, physical, or emotional, and could occur at the time of the research or in the future, after the research is finished. Researchers then must give substantial thought to the impact their research (e.g., the experiences the participants have, the questions that are asked) might have on a participant, and do all they can to minimize negative impacts. Likewise, researchers must give similar attention to the impact of their research as it relates to the pain and suffering of animals, which must be weighed against the overall benefits of the research.


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