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u03d1 Scientific Merit and Ethics

For this discussion on scientific merit and ethics, compose your post as follows:

Describe the ethical responsibilities that researchers have to participants, the general
public, and their discipline; in this case, the field of psychology.

Apply your knowledge of research ethics, including what you have learned in this unit, to
your research topic. Specifically, what ethical concerns do you have about sampling,
assignment, and conflict of interest? What will you do to ensure that you have met your
ethical responsibilities to your participants, the general public, and the field of
psychology?

Why are ethics an important aspect of scientific merit?

Ensure that your post includes proper APA citations. Provide an APA References list at the end of
your post.
Response Guidelines
Read your peers' discussion posts and respond to at least two of them. Ask questions of
clarification or interest and explain any ethical concerns you have about their research topic. In
addition, share any relevant resources with your peers that might be helpful. Your responses are
expected to be substantive in nature and should reference the assigned readings, as well as other
theoretical, empirical, or professional literature to support your views.
1. Describe the ethical responsibilities that researchers have to participants, the general public,
and their discipline; in this case, the field of psychology.
One of the principle considerations for any practitioner engaged in the field of psychological
research is the commitment to ethical, responsible and professional conduct in all research
endeavors. The goal of responsible research practices is to demonstrate a commitment to quality
psychological research that exemplifies and upholds the rigorous ethical standards of integrity
and accountability. These responsible practices that ensure the integrity of psychological
research are: avoiding misconduct including falsification and plagiarism, protection for human
and animal research participants, disclosing and managing conflict of interest, considering the
impact of research on participants and communities, obtaining appropriate permission to use
research materials, acknowledging limitations of research findings, etc. (Capella, 2013).
Moreover, Shadish, Cook & Campbell, (2002) suggest that ethics should be expedient at the very
inception as well as throughout the entire research design process. Thus incorporating ethical
standards in the field of psychological research involves best practices in all phases of both

qualitative and quantitative research methodologies and design, as well as elucidating respect for
intellectual property, responsible authorship and social responsibility. Moreover, its important to
note that computer-based psychometric instruments should be seen as only one of several sources
of assessment data available to clinicians. According to the APA Code of Ethics, Psychologists
base the opinions contained in their recommendations, reports, and diagnostic or evaluative
statements, including forensic testimony, on information and techniques sufficient to substantiate
their findings (APA, 2002, 9.01).
Furthermore, maintaining ethical standards of psychological research both defines and firmly
establishes a positive perception of professionalism among participants and the general public.
These ethical standards are expressed in the APA Principles of Psychologists and Code of
Conduct with the intent to inform participants and the general public, as well as to govern and
educate members, regarding the ethical standards of research within the profession (APA, 2002).
These ethics codes assist in strengthening the integrity and competence of psychological research
by informing participants, the general public, and federal and state governments that the
profession inherently demonstrates the ability to regulate and monitor responsible conduct in
research among its members (Ford, 2006).
However, it is unfeasible for ethics codes to provide all the definitive direction necessary to
encompass every complex research situational context. Hence they are commonly expressed in
diverse principle ethics to assist research practitioners in discerning a generalized and
appropriate course of action based upon sound principles that are applicable to any research
endeavor fraught with ethical dilemmas. For example, ethical principles such as nonmaleficence
(do no harm), beneficence (contribute to the good of participants), justice (fairness in treatment
applications), self determination (respect for others rights) are intent to guarantee the protection
of human participants in research and are described in the Nuremberg Code, the Declaration of
Helsinki and the Belmont Report, as well as the APA Code of Ethics (Capella, 2013; APA, 2002).
2. Apply your knowledge of research ethics, including what you have learned in this unit, to
your research topic. Specifically, what ethical concerns do you have about sampling, assignment,
and conflict of interest? What will you do to ensure that you have met your ethical
responsibilities to your participants, the general public, and the field of psychology?
The central research question for the authors quantitative research study is: How well can stress
management be predicted from anxiety and pain in participants receiving Reiki energy healing
treatments? Furthermore, this study will examine how much variance in stress management
(SM) is uniquely explained by each of the two predictor variables X1 and X2. The dependent Y
variable in this study is stress management (SM) and the two predictor variables X1 and X2, are
anxiety and pain respectively.
A. Sampling strategy

One of the principle dilemmas in the sampling selection strategy for this study will be
developing specific exclusion criteria which demonstrate a commitment to nonmaleficence. For
example, this quantitative research study will use a multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA)
methodology to determine the neurocognitive efficacy of Reiki treatments in reducing pain and
stress. What if some of the subjects in the sample have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
(ADHD)?
This vulnerable population of interest would require that stipulations on informed consent (IC)
forms be extremely clear and unambiguous. Individuals with ADHD have difficulties focusing
their attention to adapt to their environment and the role of imaging, rating scales and
neurocognitive computer testing on levels of attention deficit and perception are often clinically
examined. Therefore, a significant statistical probability exists that the symptomatic conditions
of individuals within this population of interest may contribute to misunderstanding and refusal
to participate. Careful attention to clearly communicating the details of an IC is warranted since
studies indicate that higher levels of comprehension are associated with higher levels of
agreement to participate (Lefkowitz, 2003).
Secondly, this study may also require truthfulness of current substance abuse among ADHD
participants which often induces a tendency for the participants to under report the severity of
symptoms and succumb to social desirability bias to cognitively minimize their problematic
behavior. Research indicates that comorbidities such as non-prescription substance and alcohol
abuse are often problematic and used as coping mechanisms among ADHD adults (Gillig et al.,
2005). Therefore, a solution to eliminating social desirability bias is developing open ended
probing questions around symptomatic conditions of substance and alcohol abuse may that help
indicate the extent of a subjects current additive condition. Participants involved in drug use
may be more eager to disclose their substance abuse habits and symptoms as well if client
confidentiality is consistently stressed by the researcher when using a sampling instrument that
may uncover specific symptoms characteristic of substance abuse.
Moreover, research among ADHD participants with this type of learning disability may be
considered a vulnerable population susceptible to recidivistic response levels, which would
require that the research study with this population of interest be approved by the Institutional
Review Board (IRB).
B. Assignment
Following the recruitment phase, participants will be randomly assigned to control and treatment
conditions. Successful implementation of random assignment often requires significant
reflection and expertise (Shadish, Cook & Campbell, 2002). In this authors quantitative
research study involving the efficacy of Reiki treatments on reducing stress and pain, participants
will differ on specific pretest levels of stress derived from numerous covariate sources of stress
(e.g. marital, socioeconomic, physiological, etc). Thus a simple random assignment of subjects

may yield easily observed mean differences between treatment and control groups. This author
will minimize these differences by matching participants in pairs on a relevant variable (e.g. age)
and then engaging in random assignment from these matching dyads.
C. Conflict of Interest
Conflict of interest refers to a personal interest, whether tangible or intangible, that has the
potential to influence a researchers judgment and decisions (Capella, 2013). This implies that
there is potential that a researchers bias may interfere with professional decisions regarding the
research study. Since this author is a certified Reiki practitioner it would be imperative to ensure
that the participants receive treatment from practitioners unknown and impartial to the author,
thus eliminating a potential conflict of interest.
Reiki practitioners engaged in the study who are known to the author and aware of the study may
potentially disrupt the outcome through confirmation bias and an intangible interest by seeking
positive outcomes to validate the study. Intangible interest is a situation in which academic,
political, religious, ideological, or other personal interests have the potential, either actual or
apparent, to directly and significantly compromise an individual's or group's professional
judgment or objectivity in designing, conducting, reviewing, or reporting research. These
interests include but are not limited to, relationships with research personnel and immediate
family (Capella, 2011).
3. Why are ethics an important aspect of scientific merit?
Scientific merit and ethical considerations in research are formally related. Scientific merit
refers to whether the quantitative research design is inherently valid to answer the research
question. Ethics refers to whether the study maintains sufficient integrity and accountability with
regard to principles of the IRB and organizational principle ethics codes. A research study which
violates the rights of participants and may induce harm is unethical and lacking in sufficient
scientific merit for approval. A study of this nature would be considered invalid and without
scientific merit even though its design is valid. Thus not only is the design structure of the study
critical to scientific merit, but ethics as well by validating the ethical integrity of the study. An
example of a question that conjoins ethics and scientific merit might be: are the risks to the
participants minimized and the benefits optimized to the greatest extent such that elements
within the study design do not violate ethical principles of research, while thoroughly addressing
the research question?
Anthony Rhodes
General Psychology PhD.
References
American Psychological Association. (2002). Ethical principles of psychologists and code of
conduct. Washington, DC.

Capella University. (2011). University Policy 3.03.05: Conflicts of Interest in Research.


Minneapolis, Mn. Retrieved January 24, 2013, from https://campus.capella.edu/web/research-atcapella/design/ethical-foundations?deepLink=true
Capella University. (2013). Ethical Foundations. Minneapolis, Mn. Retrieved January 24, 2013,
from https://campus.capella.edu/web/research-at-capella/design/ethical-foundations?
deepLink=true
Ford, G. (2006). Ethical reasoning for mental health professionals. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage
Publications.
Gillig PM, Gentile JP, Atiq R. (2005). Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder in adults.
Psychiatry Board Review Manual. Hosp Physician. (9):111.
Lefkowitz, Joel. (2003). Ethics and values in industrial-organizational psychology. Lawrence
Erlbaum Associates Publishers
Shadish, W. R., Cook, T. D., & Campbell, D. T. (2002). Experimental and quasi-experimental
designs for generalized causal inference (2nd ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. ISBN:
9780395615560.