Ethics. The new kid on the block. In my last 3 years at university I haven’t given much thought towards ethics but in my final year it seems to be coming up a lot. First in my dissertation and then in my personal honours project.
As it turns out, ethics are hugely important in research and compared to subjects such as science and medicine, there often is little awareness in art, media and design disciplines. Many artists and designers film and photograph people, often without their knowledge and this can be considered a breach of ethics. You need to therefore consider your actions carefully and demonstrate integrity, honesty and discipline. You also need to be sensitive to the possibility of blasphemy arising from a piece of work.
Ethics are designed not only to protect your participants but also you personally – the last thing you want is to be put in harms way by an aggrieved person or litigation. Ethics are even more tricky when your research involves certain groups of people, such as children or those with disabilities in which case you may need to apply for disclosure.
Otherwise, the main points you need to consider when approaching ethics are these: Respect for Human Dignity and Life; Respect for Equal Opportunities, Justice and Inclusiveness; Resect for Freedom of Choice; Respect for Vulnerable People; Respect for Privacy and Confidentiality; Avoidance of Harm; Work Undertaken in Public Places.
Having spent the last week thinking about these ethics, I’ve prepared a ‘Participant Information Sheet’ outlining the purpose of my research and how the results will be used. In relation to that, I have also prepared a consent form so participants can choose to grant, or not grant permission for me to gather certain types of information and to what extent I can use it. Getting it all ready is a bit of headache but I’ll show it to Chris and Graham tomorrow and hopefully get it OK’d.