This paper is to discuss unethical business research conduct that resulted in convictions. One of the researchers was sentenced to twenty-one months in prison for destroying and enticing others to destroy documents related to a research study.
Keywords: unethical, convicted, skewing research, failing to maintain confidentiality.
Business Research Ethics
Ethics are standards of behavior. In research, ethical choices can ensure that no one is injured in the course of a research study or no one suffers harm, discomfort, pain, embarrassment of loss of privacy.
Researchers should always maintain the goal of quality and excellence in their research. The goal of researcher is to provide useful data, information that supports the question that is being asked. One of the ways data can be protected is to create a clear process for collecting data, using a standardized form or survey in some cases. Asking specific questions and setting specific parameters for the research can help with accuracy. Care must be taken to store the data in a secure place, and to maintain all the working records of the research accurately. Quality data should be accurate, complete consistent, and accessible. A clear consent process should be created to ensure that any one participating in the research will have complete awareness about the scope and needs of the study. When researches falsify data, in some cases that could lead to injuries and the sale of an unsafe product.
In August of 2011, four researchers were convicted of falsifying data “in connection with child resistance testing of cigarette and multi-purpose lighters”. (NewsRx, 2011) Falsified data in this case could have caused damage, death and injuries because of fires from lighters that were not child safe. The goal of the testing of the lighters is to make sure that children under five years of age, cannot successfully operate a cigarette lighter or a lighter that is a novelty item, for desktop display, something that may look like a toy.
Consent to Participate
One of the basics of ethical research is that the data that is reported is valid. In research situations, participants are asked to give their consent to participate. When the participants are under age, it is common practice to have the parent sign their consent for the minor to participate. In this case, it was proven that staff had “forged parental signatures” (NewsRx, 2011). Parental consent is always needed in research studies that involve young children. Parents must be informed and consent implies that that are aware of what the study will entail and that the wellbeing of their child will be taken into consideration.
Data issues in this case study also involved tests that were incorrectly repeated, with the same children. The children were incorrectly identified by name, birthdate, gender and schools attended. In the criteria for the testing, “the testing model stated that no child may participate in more than one test panel of test more than one model of a cigarette lighter”. (U.S.Consumer Product Safety Commission, 2005) Repeating the test with the same items and the same children, gave the researchers extra data that they rolled into the complete test. By repeating tests with the…