BP#3 – Why are ethics important in research?

In my first year of university I was given a task to complete.
We were to set out individually onto campus and capture students on camera unknowingly while they used some kind of portable electronic device, and then we were to show them to each other and discuss our findings. At the beginning of the class we were shown a video of a man who uses a digital camera to film people on the street to publicly showcase their reaction on Youtube, where anybody with access to the internet can view them. The purpose of showing us this video was as obvious as the message it was promoting: showcasing somebody’s image without their consent is morally and ethically wrong, and so the class rightfully and respectfully refused to show each other.

We face asking ourselves these kinds of questions every single day where the situation arises, not because we have to, but because we should. Understanding the necessity of ethics in every aspect of life is important, and understanding why that also applies to research is equally and even more-so important, because research can have a large and fatal impact on the lives of everybody. A good example of the danger of unethical research is the treatment received by jewish concentration camp prisoners in the second world war, where extremely inhuman and often fatal experiments were conducted on prisoners of war (weerakoddy 2008). As well as to prevent the harm of others, ethical guidelines in research are put in place to ensure that confidentiality, anonymity, informed consent and privacy requirements are cleared before the research is pursued or presented, this ensures that the entire process is legal when concerning live test participants.

Of course research itself does have it’s own set of guidelines, these consist of certain rules and regulations to verify that all of the work involved is objective, honest and not plagiarised before it is published. Misuse of this conduct can be seen through the ‘perfect family’ exploration, which questionably suggests that if you aren’t apart of a married two-parent family, your life is probably going to be dysfunctional and messy – if it isn’t already. Although there are obvious links to behaviour and separation within family homes, suggesting that this outcome is black and white without considering important individual factors seems like a bit of a stretch, and doesn’t quite fit ethical guidelines because there is no way to prove that this result is honest.

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It’s much easier and safer to ensure that what you’re doing is morally and ethically correct, not just because we have to – but because we should.

References:

Weerakoddy N 2008, Research ethics in media and communication, Research methods for media and communications, pp.73-91

BP#2 Text Analysis

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“If you hear that word one more time, you will definitely cringe. You may exhale pointedly. And you might even seek out the nearest the pair of chopsticks and thrust them through your own eardrums like straws through plastic lids”

That’s right – the word ‘feminist’ was included in Time magazines “which word should be banned in 2015?” poll, in an effort to seemingly connect with the younger generation. Although the editor, Nancy Gibbs, publicly posted a public apology stating that the purpose of including the word was to shed light on the way in which it was being used, as opposed to the fundamental principals behind the movement, “You have nothing against feminism itself, but when did it become a thing that every celebrity had to state their position on whether this word applies to them, like some politician declaring a party?” Katy Steinmetz writes, but the target audience wasn’t convinced, and neither was a large portion of anybody else.
“They suggest that feminism has weighed women down, caused depression, made women either look like/and or hate men, and leave behind fawning Aryan children” writes ABC’s Julia Bowes. “If we can take Time Magazine as representative of the middle-of-the-road media’s views on feminism, and an accurate gauge of current popular opinion, its representations of feminism certainly give cause for concern”.

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Many questioned why – despite the excuse – the word was included in the first place, demanding a more substantial explanation. Even if the term in itself is being allegedly “over-used” by celebrities and various other media personalities, the public had a question: since when did identifying as a feminist become a bad thing, when the potential to raise awareness to the cause and promote empowerment and equality follows? The magazine only posted the apology after it caused an eruption of outrage and controversy by the community, and left many readers disappointed and choosing to click the ‘unsubscribe’ button. It comes as no surprise, considering how influential and revolutionary the movement is; and to all identifying feminists out there who feel that the term is definitely not something to be taken lightly, or used comparatively as the butt of a joke on a poll alongside words such as ‘YOLO’ and ‘bae’.

For a magazine that itself prompts celebrities to ‘out themselves as feminists’ in their own interviews, it sure does seem they like to downplay their front-seat role in the controversy amongst all of these “politicians declaring parties”.
Although; the conflicting hypocritical evidence does beg the question – which party are they really voting for?