A sociologist, Marlene Stepanski, is contracted to conduct a series of
focus groups for a private foundation. The foundation does not want its
name associated with the research because the foundation's research
director believes the focus groups participants would not be honest in
their discussions if they know the sponsor.
1. Does the researcher have the right to withhold the
name of the sponsor?
2. Is this a form of deceptive research?
3. What should the sociologist do if a participant
asks who is sponsoring the research?
4. Should Marlene have accepted the funding knowing
that she could not reveal the sponsor?
Reflect on the above questions and form your
own answers before clicking the Discussion
key to review the commentary provided with this case.
There are a number of issues here. First, it is not necessarily a
violation of the code if the name of the sponsor is withheld during the
study. However, there should be some provision made to inform the
participants either at the end of the focus group or the end of the
project. Similarly, it is Marlene's responsibility to clarify the
possible ethical issue prior to starting the research and if the
research violates the code, she is expected not to do it. In both
cases, the code states that checking with an IRB or similar body would
help clarify the issues.