Topic 5: Ethics, Integrity and Conflict of Interest

Topic 5: Ethics, Integrity and Conflict of Interest

“Overview … Readings and Lectures”
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  • Topic 5: Ethics, Integrity and Conflict of Interest > Readings and Lectures > Introduction Video
  • Topic 5: Ethics, Integrity and Conflict of Interest > Readings and Lectures > Overview of Ethics, Integrity and Conflict of Interest
  • vTopic 5: Ethics, Integrity and Conflict of Interest > Readings and Lectures > Ethics in Practice

Topic 5: Ethics, Integrity and Conflict of Interest > Readings and Lectures > Introduction Video

  • Case writers have obligations to protect the participants in their research.
  • This session will help case writers and researchers understand how they can navigate those competing demands.

Topic 5: Ethics, Integrity and Conflict of Interest > Readings and Lectures > Overview of Ethics, Integrity and Conflict of Interest

  • In this session I going to be talking about research ethics, integrity and the legal context.
  • How do these factors shape case research and case writing and what is the researchers role? First of all, human subjects research includes any research where any living person is involved, either as an experimental subject or as a control.
  • The scope of activities included under the definition of research is quite broad and extends to many types of social science research including social experiments and surveys.
  • Unfortunately not all research involving humans has been justifiable and useful.
  • The Belmont Report defined three ethical principles that now guide all human-subjects research in the US. These are respect for persons, beneficence, and justice.
  • The first is that studies with human subjects are necessary for improvements in human health and welfare.
  • Second, to conduct such research is a privilege, not a right, extended to researchers by society, institutions, and the research subjects themselves.
  • Finally, neither the risks nor the costs of any research study should outweigh the likely benefits.
  • Many countries have developed their own guidelines for human subjects research.
  • In the US, human subject protections are a shared responsibility of researchers, funders, and what’s called the institutional review board.
  • An IRB is designed to advocate for potential and actual research subjects.
  • It’s responsible for reviewing and approving all covered research activity- requiring that subjects are given enough information to be able to provide informed consent, and conducting periodic reviews of research to ensure continued protection of human subjects and compliance with the relevant regulations.
  • Many social science studies, even though they are observational not experimental studies, are under IRB oversight at universities and other research organizations.
  • ISS follows these rules because we fall under university human subjects research requirements.
  • Regardless, you have an ethical responsibility as a researcher to protect your interviewees and to make sure your interviewees understand why you’re speaking to them and how you plan to use the material.
  • Confidentiality means that we do not publish the content of interviews or let others know that we have interviewed the subject while conducting field research.
  • In the interest of fairness and accuracy, ISS seeks a subject’s approval for any quotes used in the text before publication of the case study.
  • We secure this informed consent by explaining to potential interviewees, before the interview, what the purpose of the research is, who is in charge of this study, the subject of the interview, how we record and store the information that we gather, and what the final case studies will look like.
  • Ensuring participants have given informed consent is your primary ethical responsibility as a writer and researcher.
  • When we ask participants to sign the consent form, we also assure them that their participation in our research and what they say in an interview- the fact that they were interviewed- is absolutely confidential until we seek their review for publishing quotes from the interview.
  • It does mean that the primary responsibility of researchers and writers is to make sure that interviewees understand the rules that they’re working under, whatever those rules are.
  • Understanding conflicts of interest is an important part of understanding researchers and writers ethical obligations.
  • The conflicts of interest can arise in case study research just as they arise in many other arenas.
  • Case study researchers and writers should ask about and adhere to any institutional or governmental requirements for identifying, disclosing, and managing conflicts of interest.
  • For every step of the research process attempts should be made to isolate conflicted individuals from decision making or research functions, as needed.
  • A case study conducted by the person who funded or managed a project or on whom respondents depend for assistance is likely to suffer bias.
  • The key is to put the researcher at arms length from the financial and institutional interests of the people whose work the case study chronicles.
  • That may require adherence to protocols or the use of peer review or it may mean that the institution creates a separate independent unit, like the World Bank’s Independent Evaluation Group, to carry out the research.
  • In addition to concerns that the researcher might represent a funding in organization, also think about whether the interviewee is able to speak freely.
  • If you have reason to suspect that there is a conflict of interest on the part of the interviewees, find others within the organization who are able to answer your questions and contribute to the case study.
  • Ultimately, the case study is published under your name.

Topic 5: Ethics, Integrity and Conflict of Interest > Readings and Lectures > Ethics in Practice

  • Well, I think the main ethical obligations that a journalist has toward his or her source, I think there are really three of them.
  • I think it’s-I would call it- understanding, honesty, and accuracy.
  • By honesty, I think you need to you don’t want to trick your source.
  • Sources tend to be, I think actually, surprisingly, realistic about that.
  • I think, it’s always important to keep that in mind when you’re dealing with a source.
  • You know, when I’m interviewing a source, I’m not trying to make them feel good about themselves.
  • I think if you keep that in mind as the priority, it helps to clarify things a lot.
  • I think, generally, sources understand that and honor it.
  • As researchers at a US academic institution working with people as our research subjects, we’re governed by a set of rules that we call the IRB rules.
  • You know, I’m used to people, sort of, once they tell something it’s, it’s fair-use, as long as we’ve agreed upon that.
  • So the important thing that I find is, you have to explain to the interviewee, you know, we, we’re governed by a set of rules, these rules are there to protect you, the interviewee, not me the researcher.
  • We have to go through a process that we call quote clearance where we have to reach out to someone once we’re ready to publish the case and say, you know, these are the quotes from the interview that we’d like to use.
  • Are you okay with us publishing that or would this, you know, cause problems for you? The reason I actually think this is important is that it’ll, it enables us speak to people, sort of what we call in journalism on background.
  • I think ultimately, this is actually pretty helpful as a researcher.
  • You know, you can’t discuss what people said in interviews with anyone who’s not on the team.
  • You know, tha, that can, you have to really careful and when you’re in the middle of a research process to be able to do that.
  • I like to think that they’re just variances, variations on, on different kinds of problems, right? So, yes when, when I’m a, wearing a Wellbank official hat, I’m pretty conscious that people are probably in the first instance at least, telling me things that they either think I wanna hear.
  • I don’t think there’s epistemologically neutral standpoint from which someone gets necessarily the, the right answers to those questions, or the more accurate questions.
  • In all cases, it’s a matter of being self-conscious about what you’re, being told, and what you think people are being told, and being a good researcher, being a good interviewer is all about trying to unpack and explore these issues from a range of different angles.
  • Even when I was putatively a neutral, independent, graduate student, people could be telling whatever answers they wanted, because they know they don’t care.
  • Good social science research, researchers recognize that that’s inherently a problem.

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