Ethical challenges faced by researchers in qualitative studies

Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) was established in 1997 with the prime objective to address breaches and issues of ethical concerns related to research and publication. COPE provides a common platform to the scientific community that includes journals, editors, authors, and publishers to help resolve ethical issues and define ethical practices in the field of scientific publishing.

The Committee works to educate and inform the publishing industry about the ethical practices. COPE offers definitive guidelines and norms related to studies that require ethical approval before they are published worldwide. Ethical issues are common between co-authors or between an editor and author, and for this reason the Committee works toward settling such authorship disputes that may arise and affect the publication process.

You cannot start your research without proper planning. The foundation of a good paper is a solid study design that helps the researchers create an outline and put together the entire information in an order. Research needs to be well planned as well as ethically approved, otherwise it would constitute misconduct.

Formulating ethical guidelines during research is important, which involves participants in different stages of the study. It is quite common for researchers to face ethical issues, such as anonymity, consent, confidentiality, and much more. Some examples of ethical guidelines set by the COPE are:

  • Protocol is required to drive research in labs and clinical research
  • The protocols should address the specific question and not just the gathered data
  • Contributors, participants, and collaborators should agree to the research protocols
  • Participants and contributors should sign an early agreement
  • Researchers should prioritize addressing statistical issues
  • Researchers should obtain formal and ethical approval from the ethics committee

As a researcher, you should be able to identify the potential barriers such as the following:

Validity: Every research paper should address the question that forms the central theme of your paper. While writing the conclusion section, make sure that it correlates with the main question posed by you in the beginning with the data and result obtained. The methods used for completing the study must relate to the research problem.

Data: Record the data and research findings and maintain confidentiality while doing so. From an ethical perspective, the participants should be given a brief on what the research is all about and their respective roles in gathering data and information.

Consent: Formal consent of agreement should be signed by all the participants. They should give their consent to participate in the study. Participants are entitled to know about the aim and purpose of the research as well as their respective roles.

Sample design: Sampling and defining the group of participants is the first step for developing a research design. You need to define the key characteristics of your sample design. Start by explaining the reason you chose a particular sample for collecting data. Also, address the additional requirements that may require you to take permission from the participants.

Result: While writing the proposal, you need to emphasize on the relevance of your research. Explain briefly how your research work will benefit the community and yield results. Consider the benefits and advantages of the study and note them down. Show how your research guarantees the quality of the result.

Approach: What is the type of approach that you have adopted for your research? Give a brief by explaining the methodology and expected outcome. Start by answering which method is the most effective and matches with the aim of your research. Are there any advantages and limitations of the methods? Assess the potential risk factors before finalizing the methodology.

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