All You Need To Know About Ethical Considerations In Dissertations

In most cases the process of collecting data for your dissertation presupposes interaction between people. As a result, some ethical issues may arise and you should consider them carefully before writing the paper. It’s essential to ensure that the participants won’t be put at risk or harmed in the course of your work.

Dissertation Ethics: General Considerations

There are a number of general rules to comply with while carrying out interviews or questionnaires for the paper. Firstly, it’s obligatory to obey data protection laws and make sure that human rights are not violated. That is why it’s required to gain the informed consent of the participants. Secondly, the information presented in the paper must be reliable and unbiased, which means verifying data in each stage of the research. Following those rules is fairly easy for students and supervisors alike, while the sample groups are not big and normally consist of fellow students. However, you must consult with your supervisors and get their approval in any of these cases:

  • The participants of the survey are underage or disabled and therefore cannot provide the informed consent.
  • Permission from parents or teachers is required for conducting a survey (e.g. interviewing schoolchildren).
  • It’s necessary for the survey to do some ‘undercover work’ (e.g. observe people without them realizing they are being watched).
  • The survey focuses on some controversial social issues and some interview questions might make people feel uncomfortable, embarrassed, stressed or even depressed (e.g. alcohol and drug abuse). It’s possible that participants will find themselves under a lot of pressure and it can influence the results.
  • The process of observing or interviewing poses a real danger to the surveyor.

Writing a Dissertation: How to Follow Ethical Considerations

Sometimes students find it difficult to address ethical issues in a proper way. The following tips will help you deal with this aspect of the dissertation effectively:

  • Make sure that all university requirements concerning ethical clearance are satisfied. You may be asked to get certain permissions or fill in some forms.
  • Try to avoid using inappropriate language when formulating interview questions. The list of questions should be approved by supervisors.
  • Get written consent of the participants. It will testify their voluntary participation in the survey.
  • Be tolerant to thoughts and ideas expressed by the participants. Try to sound impartial during the interview. Remember that it is unacceptable to alter respondents’ answers in any way.
  • Preserve the participants’ anonymity and privacy (e.g. change their real names).
  • Indicate those people who assisted you in acknowledgements.