Academic journal article Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD

Publishing Ethical Research: A Step-by-Step Overview

Academic journal article Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD

Publishing Ethical Research: A Step-by-Step Overview

Article excerpt

To publish ethical research, most researchers immediately think of the process of writing a manuscript, plagiarism issues, and providing authorship and credit to those who contributed. Publishing ethical research is much more, however, than the end product of a study or the aspect of writing up one's results. Not only does it include the actual written manuscript, final results, and authorship credit, but it also entails decisions made during the entire research process. Ethical research, in general, should contribute to the knowledge base of the profession (American Counseling Association [ACA], 2005), respect and inform research participants, minimize risks to participants, use appropriate methodological procedures and data analysis to answer the research question, and appropriately recognize contributors. Ultimately, ethical research requires a researcher to engage in the responsible conduct of research.

The responsible conduct of research is defined as "conducting research in ways that fulfill the professional responsibilities of researchers, as defined by their professional organization, the institutions for which they work, and when relevant, the government and public" (Steneck, 2006, p. 55). The 2005 ACA Code of Ethics provides guidelines regarding ethical issues in research (ACA, 2005, Section G). When engaging in research, a researcher should follow the ethical guidelines of ACA and other organizations with which he or she is affiliated to ensure research integrity and, consequently, the publication of ethical research. Thus, publishing ethical research entails engaging in the responsible conduct of research, as well as ensuring conclusion validity in quantitative research and confirmability in qualitative research.

Conclusion validity refers to the degree to which the findings and conclusions of a study are correct or accurate. Conclusion validity is not typically discussed, and when it is, it is usually discussed only in relation to quantitative research as statistical conclusion validity (e.g., Heppner, Wampold, & Kivlighan, 2008). In qualitative research, researchers discuss the level to which the results make sense, or can be confirmed or corroborated by others, as confirmability (Sharts-Hopko, 2002). For both quantitative and qualitative research, various aspects of a study create threats to conclusion validity and/ or confirmability, including the research question(s), sample, procedures for data collection and data analysis (e.g., "fishing" for results, violation of statistical tests in quantitative analysis, bringing one's biases or subjectivity into qualitative analysis), unreliability of treatment implementation, unreliability of measures, or random heterogeneity of participants (Heppner et al., 2008; Sharts-Hopko, 2002).

Conducting research responsibly and ensuring conclusion validity or confirmability require a researcher to pay heed to decisions from the inception of the research idea. Bersoff and Bersoff (2008) indicated that attention must be paid to ethical issues from the onset of the research process. Although explaining every aspect of ethical behavior in research is outside the scope of this article, I will touch on some of the steps of publishing ethical research. Although this article highlights areas for ethical consideration, researchers should be knowledgeable of the research process in general to be able to recognize threats to the validity of their findings and factors that influence the outcome of a study. Before discussing the steps individually, I first cover ethical principles specifically related to research because researchers need to consider these principles during every phase of the research process.

Five Main Ethical Principles to Consider in Research

To conduct responsible and ethical research, the researcher has to consider many decisions, from human participants to the impact the research will have on the field. There are five main principles that should always be considered. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.