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POLSC251: Research Methods in Political Science

Unit 8: Ethics in Social Science Research   We primarily study people in social science research. As a result, ethical issues may come up. The central issue that arises is the risk of harm to human participants in such studies. Such harms may be social, psychological, emotional, financial, or legal. Social harms may include having something about a participant that could embarrass the participant. Psychological or emotional harms may result from being deceived in the study. A participants’ employment security may be jeopardized because of participation in a research study. Finally, legal harms may result from the exposure of participants’ involvement in illegal actions. With that said, most research projects in the social sciences are what we would classify as being minimal risk of harm. That does not mean, however, that we should then not address and consider the risk of potential harms to participants in such studies. This unit will cover how the social sciences have addressed these ethical concerns.

Unit 8 Time Advisory
This unit should take you approximately 4 hours to complete.

☐    Subunit 8.1: 3 hours

☐    Subunit 8.2: 1 hour

Unit8 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, you should be able to - discuss the potential ethical issues that arise in political science research; - describe how political scientists address ethical issues; and - detail the process by which political scientists get approval for research projects that use human subjects.

8.1 Research Ethics   - Reading: Research Ethics The Saylor Foundation does not yet have materials for this portion of the course. If you are interested in contributing your content to fill this gap or aware of a resource that could be used here, please submit it here.

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  • Reading: Wadsworth Cengage Learning’s Research Methods Workshops: “Ethical Issues” Link: Wadsworth Cengage Learning’s Research Methods Workshops: “Ethical Issues” (HTML)

    Instructions: Please read this tutorial. You must click next at the upper right hand corner of the text to move through each of the 20 short entries. There will be a question at the end of some of these short entries. You may attempt to answer each question, and then compare your response by clicking on “Instructor’s Answer.” This article covers what ethical issues may arise when conducting research.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Assessment: Wadsworth Cengage Learning’s Research Methods Workshops: “Ethical Issues Quiz” Link: Wadsworth Cengage Learning’s Research Methods Workshops: “Ethical Issues Quiz” (HTML) 

    Instructions: Please click on the link above and complete this quiz.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

8.2 A Famous Example of Unethical Research   - Reading: YouTube: Yale University: Frank Snowden’s “The Tuskegee Experiment” Link: YouTube: Yale University: Frank Snowden’s “The Tuskegee Experiment” (YouTube) 

 Instructions: Watch this video, which supplements discussion of the
Tuskegee Experiment.  

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displayed on the webpage above.

8.3 Further Study Suggestions   - Reading: The National Academies Press: “On Being a Scientist: Responsible Conduct in Research” Link: The National Academies Press: “On Being a Scientist: Responsible Conduct in Research” (HTML)

 Instructions: This is an optional article. This article details the
importance of ethical consideration at every stage of the research
process from developing research questions to gathering data.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Reading: Department of Health and Human Services: “Office for Human Research Protections of the U.S.” Link: Department of Health and Human Services: “Office for Human Research Protections of the U.S.” (HTML)

    Instructions: This is an optional article. The site highlights the federal government’s role in protecting human subject in the research process.

    Terms of Use:Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: Department of Health and Human Services: “Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects” Link: Department of Health and Human Services: “Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects” (HTML)

    Instructions: This is an optional article. The page offers the federal government’s policy for protecting human subjects.

    Terms of Use:Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.