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Importance of Research Ethics

Discuss about the Research Ethics For The Scientific Community.

In academic research, adherence to the basic norms of ethical conduct is necessary. It is necessary to establish the credibility of the scientific community and influence the perception of the public to accept and judge results of the scientific experiments. Research ethics are necessary for the scientific community to clearly differentiate between the acceptable and unacceptable behavior when human beings are involved in the research study. However, with the increasing nature of the competitiveness in the research, it has become challenging for the researchers to pioneer ethical research. Therefore, it is important that ethics does not remain marginalized or detached from the scientific queries (Wiles 2012). Moral integrity of the researcher is also important in assuring that the findings and the results of the research are trustworthy and valid. In the studies involving the human subjects, the research subjects can be protected by informed consent. The informed consent should include all the processes and procedures, which should be involved in the research (Miller, Birch, Mauthner & Jessop 2012). The research participants must be aware of the nature of the research projects and their role in the research. Further, the researcher should make sure that the ethics are applied at each stage of the research, which are planning, conducting and evaluation of the research results. In this regard, the present report will propose an ethical and effective research design for XYZ, a social media organization. In the past, Facebook conducted an experiment by manipulating the user’s news feed to analyze the changes in their emotions. Facebook implemented an algorithm to tamper the newsfeed of about 70,000 people and increased the number of either positive or negative post to influence the emotional state of the users. The experiment yielded the result that the negative newsfeed influenced negative comments and positive newsfeed invited positive comments. This experiment of Facebook was highly criticized because of its poor research design. There was certain issue in the present research design. Although the experiment was not illegal, it was unethical in several ways. There were certain issues such as informed consent, condition of voluntary participation and withdrawal from the research and confidentiality of the research participants, which invited criticism from all over the world. The present report will propose a research method so that the same experiment can be conducted in a proper manner.

Challenges in Ensuring Ethical Research

In the present, social media has perpetuated to the human lives such that, most of the people cannot spend their day without the use of social media. However, the constant and continued use of social media has a strong impact on the lives of people. There are several negative effects of social media on young kids and teens, which includes cyber-bullying and depression. However, same risks are present for the adults and the people of different generations. The primary issue with social media is that it is addictive. It can also impact on the psychological characteristics, personality and the use of social media. There are also several people, who excessively use social media and behave in specific manner such as neglecting family life, escapism, concealing the addictive behavior and using social media to modify their mood. Further, most of the research states that excessive use of social media triggers sadness and less satisfaction towards personal life. The excessive use of social media builds a perception of social isolation, which has a prolonged impact on psychological wellbeing. Although these social media websites offer an invaluable resource for the people to connect with each other from far geographical locations, it has a negative impact on the people. The social media has found with the intent to support the offline social network; however, it is hindering the direct communication between the people. Social media can have various impacts on the mood and perception of the people. Therefore, in the present research, the impact of social media on the mood and frame of mind of the people has been evaluated. The aims and objectives of the research are:

  • To analyze the impact of social media on the psychology of the consumers
  • To analyze in the impact of negative news feed on the perception of the consumers

The research question for the study is:

  • Does the newsfeed in social media websites can influence the mood of the users?
  • Is there possibility of emotional contagion through social networks?

In the scientific experiments, informed consent and ethically sound research design are preconditions for credible investigations. It can be critiqued that the research design and informed consent are influenced by a range of different factors. Other than that, the cultural settings, communication issues also affect the information comprehension in the research settings involving human participants. There can be discrepancies in the social status and the financial conditions of the research participants, researchers and study sponsors, which might impact the information apprehension in the research settings (Hammersley & Traianou 2012). There are also several other ethical issues such as some people are coerced or exploited to participate in the research due to their weak economic conditions. The political conditions can negatively influence the voluntary participation of the researchers. There are certain other conditions such as language, which can prevent effective communication between the research participants. It can also impact the translation of technical and complex scientific concepts. There are also certain challenges regarding who has the ability of providing informed consent for the research. In the research ethics, informed consent is given highest importance. It emphasizes the importance of taking decisions to agree or decline the participation in the research. In empirical research, the researchers or the investigators often work in resource poor settings and need to balance the ethical standards with the local standards of the research (Danis, Largent, Grady, Hull & Wendler 2012). There are certain situations in which the traditional customs of the region are in constant conflict with the international guidelines for informed consent.

Values and Principles of Research Ethics

In the research design, there are certain challenges embedded in the socio-cultural, economic and political context, which might impact the efficacy of the research. There is a consensus for the need of universally acceptable ethical guidelines, which can govern the scientific research. The purpose of research ethics is to provide guidelines to the researchers and the research community guidelines to effectively conduct the research. It increases the awareness regarding the recognized norms of research ethics (Cowburn, Gelsthorpe, & Wahidin 2016). These guidelines are intended to help the researchers to adopt an ethical stance, reflect and clarify the ethical dilemma. It prevents scientific misconduct to maintain the public trust on the scientific community.

The term research ethics encompasses different values, norms and arrangements essential to regulate the research activity. The research ethics codifies the scientific morality in practice. It is the responsibility of the research to comply with the different norms of research ethics. The research activities provide deep insight and fulfill the aim of quest of knowledge and information. In the research process, the involvement and the interpretation of the information is integral part of process. The values of the researcher impact the choice of topic, data sources and interpretation of the research outcomes (Israel 2014). The values of the researcher impact the integrity in documentation, consistency in the arguments of the research and impartiality in the research. It is important that the research must safeguard the whole research process from pressures from external or internal stakeholders. It is important to note that the researcher should maintain soundness or relevance of the arguments and provide high quality documentation so that the researcher can provide research based conclusion.

The research ethics also emphasize respect for individuals and human dignity. The researchers should respect the dignity and the personal integrity of the research participants and the people in public. They should focus on preserving the freedom and respect of the public and safeguard the public from unreasonable harm. Another important research ethics is the respect of privacy, while processing the personal data of the research participants. It is important that the research is conducted so that the researcher can maintain the privacy of the data (Iphofen, & Tolich 2018). Other than that, the researcher must inform the research participants regarding adequate information about the research, purpose of the research, funding, accessibility of the information and the consequences for the participation in the research (Daniel & Sam 2011). This information can be given by analyzing the form of the research process.

The researcher should provide information in a neutral manner so that the research participants do not face any pressure to reveal the information. Furthermore, the information should be adapted according to the cultural background of the research participants. The research should not affect the services and outcomes of the research. Other than that, informed consent is important ethical obligation of the research. When the research project deals with the personal data, the researcher is obliged to inform that the research subject and its outcome on the participants (Haag 2010). The informed consent should be obtained in an informed and explicit form.

Further, the researchers have a moral obligation towards completing the research in an ethical manner. The researchers have an obligation to treat the research respondents in an ethical manner and not engaging in harmful and deceptive practices. The research ethics can be categorized in three sections, namely, deceptive or fraudulent practices, invasion of the participants’ privacy and lack of concern towards the respondents. The ethics are integral part of the research process as the research process is based on trust, openness and goodwill for the society as a whole. The ethics are also essential in ensuring that the results of the research are truthful and can be trusted. It is also important that the research participants are protected throughout the research process. The research participants imply the people, who have consented to the research process and are an active contributor to the research process (Scruggs & Mastropieri 2006). If human or animal participants take part in the study, it is the ethical obligation of the researcher to protect their rights. It is necessary to assure that there is no physical, mental or emotional harm done to the research participants. All the research studies should have a consent form attached to them. It assures that the research participants are not deceived and they can withdraw from the research at any point of time.

The above literature emphasizes the importance of the ethical research and value of informed consent and voluntary participation in the research. In the research conducted by Facebook, the company breached various ethical considerations, which invited heavy criticism from the research bodies all across the globe. The research design did not include informed consent and voluntary participation in the research. In this essence, in the present section, an effective and ethically sound research design will be developed for XYZ organization.

In the present section, the research paradigm of positivism has been evaluated. The positivist research paradigm states that the research process should not be influenced by the perception of the researcher. It states that only information gained though measurement and statistical means is reliable. In positivism, the researcher uses an objective stance for data collection and interpretation. The positivist studies use deductive approach for the research (Merten & Ginsberg 2009). It states that the researcher needs to concentrate on the facts and should not be biased by any kind of bias.

The positivist research paradigm is associated with deductive approach and quantitative research methods. The company will use the quantitative approach to fulfill the aims of the research. The quantitative methods are those methods, which incorporate statistical means for achieving the objective of the research. It uses mathematical models, theories and hypothesis related to a specific phenomenon (Mackey & Gass 2015). In the current research, survey will be used for obtaining the primary information. It is a quantitative research method, wherein researcher selects a sample of respondents with the help of standardized questionnaire (Guillemin & Gillam 2004).  There are several methods of administering a survey, such as telephonic survey, email survey, internet survey or face-to-face survey. In the present survey, the internet survey will be used to collect the information.

Sampling, data gathering methods, data analysis

After the selection of research methods, there are certain other aspects of research such as sampling, data collection and data analysis, which are essential determinants of the research process. The research outcomes and the generalization of the results are dependent on the sampling size and methods. In the current research, random sampling will be used for the research. A consent form will be provided to the research participants, once they login to the portal of the social media site. It will inform them about the research and its impact on their personal lives. Once the research participants agree to the research, they will be provided with tampered social media posts in the news feed (Haggerty 2016). After the login session, the users have to fill a survey regarding their current feelings and level of happiness. The data will be gathered from the website of XYZ social media organization. The company will use an online survey to analyze the change in feelings of the users. An online survey refers to the questionnaire which is circulated over the internet. These types of research can be completed over the internet only. These surveys are used as a web form and the answers are stored in a specific database. There are certain types of software, which can be used to analyze the information in the database (Lewis 2015). The business organizations often use online survey to have a deep understanding of the taste and opinions of the customers (Rush, Ling, Carpenter, Carter, Searles & Byrne 2017). The data obtained from the research will be analyzed through the means of statistical software.

The sample size of the research is taken as 1000. It is an appropriate number and therefore, the result of the research can be generalized over a large population.  As the research method of survey is taken for the research, the data can be collected from these participants easily. The random sampling method is used as the people, who agree to participate in the research.

Validity, Reliability, Credibility, Trustworthiness and Limitations

There are several determinants to assess the quality of research in a quantitative research. The researcher should assure that there is clarity and appropriateness in the research questions, appropriate description for sampling and coherence between data, interpretation and conclusion in the research. In the quantitative research, validity refers to the appropriateness of the research tools, process and data. The research questions should be designed so that they can provide appropriate answers to the research. The research design should be able to provide right answers to the research questions (Resnik 2015). The choice of research methods must be able to provide proper answers to the research questions. The research should be able to provide proper answers for systematic, purposeful and theoretical sampling. In the research, the reliability refers to the ability to replicate the results of research. It means that there should be consistency in the results of the research. The scope and the analysis of data should be inclusive of data analysis aspects. The trustworthiness refers to the reliability and validity of the research. There are several factors for increasing the credibility of the research such as appropriateness of the selected methods and integrity of the final conclusion (Brinkmann 2014).

In the present research, it is assured that the credibility of the research is established. The research methods of survey have been used to analyze the impact of newsfeed on the happiness quotient of the social media users. The survey will be able to identify that there is any significant change in the behavior of the customers (Harriss & Atkinson 2015). Therefore, the research method used can be considered as valid. The reliability of the research can be established by the consistency of the research outcomes. Since, it is a quantitative research; the reliability of the research can be established with the help of pilot study.

There are certain limitations of the research. The current research will only be able to identify whether the news feed in the social media feed impacts the mood and behavior of a person. However, it will not be able to provide in-depth information regarding the social phenomenon. It is a novel concept; therefore, there is limited research on the subject (Ketchen & Bergh 2005). It is a recent social phenomenon; therefore, it is important to understand the context of the phenomenon.

In the current research, the investigators have made sure that the research abides by ethical research guidelines. The researchers will get informed consent from the participants. Once the user will login to social media website, a message will pop up. If they will accept the terms and conditions of the research, the researcher will proceed with the experiment. In the informed consent form, the researcher will inform of the intentions of the researcher and how they will conduct the experiment. After the user accepts the conditions, the research will be conducted. Another condition of the research is that the research participants can voluntary participate or resign from the research (Bryman 2015). The participants will be notified when they are under surveillance. Therefore, the participants will have full access to the proceedings of the research. Moreover, they can access or withdraw from the research. In the research, the findings of the experiment will be supported by the current scholarly literature in the research area (Manhas & Oberle 2015). The researcher will make sure that the information taken from other sources is properly cited and referenced. Other researchers and scholars will be given complete credit for their research. The researcher will also assure that appropriate measures are taken to protect the identity of the research participants. Here it is important to note that the research might include children or people with cognitive disabilities. The organization will only accommodate those participants, who are above the age of eighteen years.

It is important that the researcher adheres to the ethical norms in the research. It is important that the research follows and promote the aims of research. The researcher will be assured that there will be no falsification of data, fabrication of data or misrepresentation of data.


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Daniel, PS, & Sam, AG, 2011, Research Methodology. Gyan Publishing House, New Delhi.

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Haggerty, K  2016, Ethics creep: Governing social science research in the name of ethics. In Engaging with Ethics in International Criminological Research (pp. 29-51). Routledge.

Hammersley, M, &  Traianou, A 2012, Ethics in Qualitative Research: Controversies and Contexts, SAGE.

Harriss, DJ & Atkinson, G 2015, Ethical standards in sport and exercise science research: 2016 update. Int J Sports Med, 36(14), 1121-1124.

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Lewis, S 2015, Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five approaches. Health promotion practice, 16(4), 473-475.

Mackey, A, & Gass, SM 2015, Second language research: Methodology and design. Routledge, London.

Manhas, KP, & Oberle, K 2015, The ethics of metaphor as a research tool. Research Ethics, 11(1), 42-51.

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Resnik, DB 2015, December, What is ethics in research & why is it important, In ideas, London.

Rush, A, Ling, R, Carpenter, JE, Carter, C, Searles, A, & Byrne, JA 2017, Research governance review of a negligible-risk research project: Too much of a good thing?. Research Ethics, 1747016117739937.

Scruggs, TE, & Mastropieri, MA 2006, Applications of Research Methodology, Volume 19. Emerald Group Publishing, UK.

Wiles, R 2012, What are Qualitative Research Ethics? A& C Black, London.

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