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Ethics and research

Ethical issues have to considered before research as most institutions have ethical committees that must consider the ethics if a study before it is allowed and the British Psychological Society (BPS) publishes ethical guidelines that all investigators must follow.


Informed consent and right to withdraw

Participants must give informed consent before they join a study, this done by signing an informed consent form. This explains the purpose of a study and what it will involve. However you can not get informed consent every time due to demand characteristics but they should be debriefed at the end if the study .

Participants should also be able to withdraw their data at any time and should be assured that their data should be confidential. This is allowed regardless of wether any payment has been offered and they should be reminded about their right to withdraw if they look stressed.


Protection from harm and confidentiality

Investigators should protect subjects from mental and physical harm and they should be leave the study in the same condition they entered it in.

Participants data is confidential and must not be disclosed, unless agreed in advance. This is hard to implement during covert investigations however. Instead of name numbers or letters should be used to keep confidentiality, anonymity means that the data can’t be traced back to anyone.


Avoiding deception and debriefing

International deception should be avoided which is where an aspect or aim of the study is hidden from the participant. They should not be mislead without scientific or medical justification. Demand characteristics may mean that deception is unavoidable. If this is the case the participant must be debriefed afterwards, this is when after the research the participants are told the aim of the study and its design. However it is not an excuse for unethical research