Discussion: Ethical Dilemmas in Research

Discussion: Ethical Dilemmas in Research Assignment Instructions


You have learned the federal ethical guidelines regarding research in your CITI course training as well as the ethical standards set forth by the American Psychological Association. However, your personal ethics and worldview also shape how you interpret the standards in our field. In complex real-life scenarios, professionals may differentially weigh threats to our professional ethics code that result in various outcomes. Carefully weighing multiple options prevents one from making rash, unprofessional decisions. This Discussion: Ethical Dilemmas in Research Assignment aims to help you develop and reflect on professional ethics and values related to research.

Instructions: Thread

  1. Read the current APA Code of Conduct (2017). (Required sections: Preamble, General Principles, Section 3.10, and all of Section 8: Research and Publication).
  2. Read the following ethical dilemmas and select the one most relevant to your personal and/or professional interests to complete this Discussion: Ethical Dilemmas in Research Assignment. Note: the following scenarios were modified from a publication written by Hammersley and Traianou (2012) for the British Educational Research Association.

Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct

Including 2010 and 2016 Amendments

Effective date June 1, 2003 with amendments effective June 1, 2010 and January 1, 2017. Copyright © 2017 American Psychological Association.

  1. As a graduate student researcher, you want to investigate racist hiring practices. However, you are concerned that unless you disguise the focus of inquiry, you may not be able to truly assess these practices.
  2. When studying educational challenges when working with special needs students, you are confronted by a young adult with severe learning difficulties who demands to be included in the research project along with fellow members of the class, even though her parents have already refused on her behalf. The young adult is 18 years old.
  3. In writing up the results on a study of three local preschool nurseries for publication, you realize that the analysis is likely to be interpreted by parents and the local media as suggesting that one of these nurseries is far inferior. However, there were several beneficial aspects of that nursery not quantified as part of the initial study, and that information is not available from the other two nurseries to analyze.
  4. During the course of investigating induction processes in a military training establishment, you witness what appeared to be severe bullying of a new recruit by two of the staff. If you interfere you may jeopardize your data collection and integrity of your research.
  5. Using the one scenario you selected, compose a professional letter as if you were a graduate student currently faced with the dilemma. Write a professional letter to your graduate research advisor discussing the hypothetical situation (scenario) and how you think it should be handled. Make sure to include the following:
  6. A professional salutation and tone throughout the letter.
  7. Briefly describe the scenario.
  8. Describe two ethically viable responses for consideration. For each response, include:
    • the principle from the APA Code of Conduct that is most at stake and your rationale
    • cite at least one ethical standard from the APA Code of Conduct (using both the number and its title – for instance 1.01 Misuse of Psychologists’ Work) and discuss its relevance
  9. This means, in total you must have at least two ethically valid ways to respond with a total of at least two principles and two ethical standards as support, with a personally written justification of your selections.
  10. Include citations throughout your letter and a complete reference section at the end of your letter using current APA style format.
    • Minimum number of references: 1 (the APA Code of Ethics)


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