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Ethical Issues in Research

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Ethical Issues in Research

This topic deals with the ethical rules and norms that help govern social science research. Social science research projects often involve human participants. For example, researchers must consider the effects of their work on those subjects. Students learn about the importance of integrity in the research process, and about unethical practices including misrepresentations of data and “cherry picking.” 

Topic Learning Outcome: Students will have a sophisticated knowledge of the ethical norms of social science research.

Recommended Reading

Carleton: PADM-5113

Loaeza, Soledad, Randy Stevenson, and Devra C. Moehler. 2005. “Symposium: Should Everyone  Do Fieldwork?,” APSA-CP Newsletter of the American Political Science Association Organized  Section on Comparative Politics 16(2): 8-18.

Zirakzadeh, Cyrus Ernesto. 2009. “When Nationalists Are Not Separatists: Discarding and Recovering Academic Theories While Doing Fieldwork in the Basque Region of Spain,” in Edward Schatz, ed., Political Ethnography: What Immersion Contributes to the Study of Power.  Chicago UP., pp. 97-117.

Wood, Elisabeth. 2006. “The Ethical Challenges of Field Research in Conflict Zones,” Qualitative Sociology 29.3: 373-386.

Siplon, Patricia. 1999. “Scholar, Witness, or Activist? The Lessons and Dilemmas of an AIDS Activist.” PS, 577-581.

George Washington: PPPA-6002

Chambliss, Daniel F., and Russell K. Schutt. Making sense of the social world: Methods of investigation. Sage, 2012. Chapters 1 and 2.

Possible Assessment Questions:

1.)   Describe a hypothetical random control experiment that may produce useful information for policymakers but may raise ethical issue that would make it impossible to conduct.

2.)   What is “cherry picking?” Why are researchers ethically obliged to avoid this practice?

Page Created By: Ben Eisen and Joshua Tan, last edited 4 November, 2014.


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School of Public Policy and Governance