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Examine the ethical issues that influence the choice of research method(s) and research topic

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Introduction

´╗┐Mark Faulkner Sociology Examine the ethical issues that influence the choice of research method(s) and research topic. (20 Marks) Many sociologists argue that it is the ethical issues that influence them the most when conducting a research. These sociologists argue that it is important to allow their participants in the survey to give their informed consent. The researcher must tell them about all the relevant aspects of the research in order to allow the research participants to decide if they wish to refuse to be involved. Participants must also be asked if they wish to discontinue at regular intervals in the research. For example, Milgram?s (1963) research into obedience raised ethical issues as he did not allow the participants to stop doing the experiment. ...read more.

Middle

These effects can relate to the ones found in keeping the confidentiality of the participant a secret. The effect of having police intervention can influence the sociologist and participant involvement. For example, when a sociologist wishes to interview a criminal (e.g. a murderer), the police have the option to either let the researcher continue with the interview or stop him/her from continuing all together. In addition to these issues there is also the chance of issues being raised when research involves vulnerable groups. Care should be particularly taken where participants are vulnerable due to their age, disability or physical or mental health. For instance, care should be taken when studying children in schools. ...read more.

Conclusion

It is deemed impossible for the researcher to have the participants informed consent whilst keeping the true purpose a secret. Although, some sociologists believe that the use of covert research methods can be acceptable in certain situations. This can include having access to secretive, deviant or powerful groups. For example, a study can be created through observations in public settings. This can also include online environments such as internet chat rooms. In conclusion, ethical issues such as informed consent and the effects on research participants influence a sociologist?s method of choice. Whether its using a questionnaire to ask school children about healthy eating or using covert participation to infiltrate a dissident group. The researcher will then have to consider the choice of the topic they wish to research, such as in the 1960s and 70s the rise of feminism led to a focus on gender inequality. ...read more.

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