Ethics

Additional Information

TEACHING ETHICS THROUGHOUT THE CURRICULUM

Case 54. Stage Names and Deception: Two Examples

Situation

Example 1: Protecting Researchers  A survey organization that is part of university is conducting survey of its undergraduates. Most of the interviewers are undergraduate females. In previous surveys of undergrads, there have been instances of male undergrads harassing female interviewers by contacting them after the interview. In the community and the university, it is relatively easy to find information about the interviewers if someone has their names. To prevent potential harm to the interviewers, the survey center director recommends that the interviewers use stage names when introducing themselves in the informed consent statement.

Example Two - Protecting the Research Participants
At the same survey organization, many interviewers also volunteer at local helping agencies. The survey center is conducting a long-term project evaluating the impact of program that helps welfare recipients to become employed. Many of the program participants receive help from multiple agencies. Over time, the long-term interviewers found they met the program participants in their volunteer activities. Many research participants would recognize the interviewers names. In many cases, the interviewers felt the program participants were embarrassed to find that interviewer knew about their participation in the program. To prevent this embarrassment, some interviewers used stage names when conducting interviews in that survey.

Questions

  1. Is the use a stage names a form of deception? If so, does the researcher have a responsibility to tell the respondents that the interviewer used a stage name? 
  2. Does the use of stage names compromise informed consent?
  3. Can research ethics be suspended for a greater good, such as the protection of the researchers or their agents?
  4. Does the use of stage names to protect the respondents, as in the second case, argue that the right to privacy is a more important ethical consideration than informed consent?

Reflect on the above questions and form your own answers before clicking the discussion key to review the commentary provided with this case.

 

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