As mentioned before, ethical concerns in science go beyond just whether or not to include false information or misrepresented data in an article. There are many other things that can make doing research difficult or impossible. These issues vary depending on what field of study you are looking into, as well as the country your lab is located in.
Certain areas of scientific research require expensive materials or equipment that must be used correctly to get meaningful results. For example, studying how bacteria grows requires using very fine needles to extract fluid from the sample, which could potentially cause injury to the person extracting it.
Some studies cannot be done because too much exposure has been given to the participants already, so asking them to participate would be unethical. Others have questions like “Is eating meat bad for your health?” where answering “yes” may pose health risks to you or others if you work for the food industry!
There are also situations where working for the pharmaceutical company directly for their products or doing clinical trials on their products is illegal because it involves administering harmful substances to people or taking pictures or recordings during experiments. All of these things are considered medical procedures, and thus need to be approved by an IRB (Independent Review Board). Many universities now have their own review boards made up of individuals with expertise in the field who oversee such studies.
These are only some examples – there are thousands of different types of studies across all fields that might encounter ethics barriers at some point.
As mentioned earlier, ensuring that all of your research materials are authentic and pure is an important part of doing ethical scientific research. This includes not only buying new supplies, but also verifying that you do not have extra or missing materials already owned by the company who produced the material you are using.
Research facilities exist to help students with this kind of check. For example, most universities and academic departments have at least one student worker who helps other students conduct experiments and/or studies. These individuals typically have access to the same equipment and resources as professional scientists, so they can verify that no cheating has occurred.
Students should be aware of their institution’s policies regarding such checks, as well as what happens to students who cheat. In some cases, students will be given a warning before being forced to repeat a course or semester. Others may even get kicked out of college!
While it is tempting to save money by conducting unofficial tests, this can risk exposing sensitive information or hurting others without permission. Technically speaking, researchers are allowed to use non-scientific methods to gather data, but only if these practices are done under limited circumstances with restricted amounts of people involved. Admittance into any type of formal experiment requires much more rigorous review processes that include informed consent.
Data that isn’t properly protected and authenticated can put someone else in serious danger or create legal problems for you.
The influence of the environment
As mentioned before, scientific research depends heavily on sources of funding- either through grants or contracts from government agencies or private organizations, or via donations from individuals or corporations.
Research labs are usually funded for a limited amount of time, so they must quickly determine if their current project is worth investing in. This means looking at the potential benefits of the project and determining whether those benefits outweigh the costs.
The cost typically includes things like labor expenses and supplies, but it also includes the value of time spent by professionals on this project. For example, engineers may spend hours designing equipment that will be used in the experiment, and professors may devote many hours to educating you about the project’t results and what can be learned from them.
Another important factor in deciding whether to fund an experiment is how much control the researchers will have over the outcome. If the results depend on someone else’s production process, then investors may feel that they cannot ensure the quality of the product.
Furthermore, even if the experiment is conducted under controlled conditions, there is always the possibility that something outside the lab will affect the result.
The influence of the researcher
As mentioned before, researchers are very important people that play an integral part in shaping the research community and science as a whole. They spend their time studying things and interviewing or surveying other professionals to find answers to questions about how to better help others.
As we have seen so far, they also need to be careful what they ask participants during surveys or interviews because asking too many vague, open-ended questions can sometimes be misunderstood.
There is an even higher level of responsibility given to professional scientists: conducting ethical scientific experiments. This means testing products or procedures for safety and effectiveness and only using reliable sources.
By having these practices in place, the general public has confidence in the results of studies done by those professionals. Without this confidence, people will not trust the findings of health studies or research studies conducted for business purposes.
A major ethical concern in scientific research is sample bias. This happens when researchers recruit participants for a study, but only include those who already have a pre-existing interest in the topic under investigation.
Participants of this sort are called self-selected individuals or selective samplers. Because they participated in the study voluntarily, their experiences and opinions may not be an accurate representation of the whole population.
By excluding individuals that do not agree with the premise of the experiment, you create a skewed view of what people think about the subject. In other words, your results don’t tell us how most people feel!
With regard to medical studies, this can be even more serious because false assumptions about effective treatments or harmful ones can put lives at risk. For example, a drug that has no effect on one patient could actually save his or her life while a placebo can hurt it.
Medical studies try to avoid this by including as many patients as possible, but there will always be individuals who cannot take part for whatever reason. When designing a survey, make sure to account for this so that your findings aren’t influenced too much.
The impact of drug testing
One major area that has drawn criticism is research requiring you to test your urine for drugs as part of the study. These studies are sometimes called “drug screening” or “urine collection” protocols, and they have become increasingly popular in recent years.
Many researchers feel that this is an unethical way to do business because it coerces participants into self-reporting about their use of substances. If someone comes across as too eager to be tested, then there may be suspicions that they used drugs recently.
Furthermore, most people cannot lie about whether they have taken drugs in the past few days, so most volunteers will be truthful at least once during the experiment. This means that we will get some indication of how frequently individuals take drugs, which can be very difficult to conceal!
Drug users often develop psychological dependencies on them, so when they are asked to refrain from using them, this can create stressors that contribute to addiction. It also makes it more likely that users will need help after the study with quitting alcohol or other drugs.
For some, reducing animal use is an all-or-nothing approach. These individuals will not participate in any research that includes using animals, or they will only participate in studies that are completely free of any animal involvement.
For others, ethical concerns influence their choice to be involved in scientific research. They may feel that using animals for tests is morally wrong, or at least it should be done efficiently and humanely.
Some believe that using humans as test subjects is more ethically sound than using animals because people are less likely to react negatively towards the experiment and suffer more direct consequences from participating than if, say, a dog tested a new medicine.
However, many argue that even these tests are unethical because they involve pain or suffering to sentient beings. Many scientists agree with this view and thus opt out of doing experiments that include using animals.
Potential long-term effects
There are many ways that ethical concerns can affect scientific research, including by limiting what studies get funded or how they’re conducted.
A well documented effect of unethical research is suppression of important findings. This happens when researchers face time constraints due to ethical restrictions or have to cut off study participation at an early stage because participants find out about the need for ethics review.
They may also be reluctant to contribute data if there is concern over whether the work has been done ethically. In fact, one recent survey found that more than half of respondents said they would not participate in medical research that does not have adequate protections in place to prevent exploitation, endangerment or harm to participants.
Another potential consequence of questionable research practices (QPRs) is false positive results – finding something even when there isn’t. For example, scientists might test for antibodies against a certain disease in blood samples and conclude that people with the disease have higher levels of immunoglobulin than those who do not.
The risks of research
One major risk in scientific research is what’s called “bias.” This happens when researchers subconsciously develop an emotional attachment to either the outcome that they want, or the thing that they are studying.
Research can be biased for many reasons, including financial incentives, personal relationships, or even past experiences with similar studies or people.
When this bias exists, it can influence the results of a study, potentially leading to wrong conclusions. For example, if doctors are paid more depending on how well their medicine works, then they may not do as good a job for your health because they are too focused on making money.
Similarly, if someone is paying you to eat fast food every day, it becomes very hard to make healthy choices.
With respect to climate change, some experts have strong biases about whether or not humans contribute to global warming. In fact, one famous scientist was fired for his opinions on the matter!
These types of biases exist across all areas of science, but they are particularly important when studying potential long-term effects such as those related to public health and environmental issues.
That’s why there are systematic ways to control for bias when doing research. These procedures were designed to ensure that no significant bias exists beyond measuring the effect of the treatment (in our case, studying the impact of human activity on the environment) and the placebo effect (the positive feeling you get from thinking that something will help you).