Ethics plays an important role in any kind of social research, and researchers have to use ethical principles in order to answer ethical questions and govern behaviors (Kitchener & Kitchener, 2009). Each type of research has its own ethical considerations, and their appropriate and in-time recognition is one of the steps that cannot be neglected. An IRB (Institutional Review Board) is one of the committees that follow how researchers recognize and use ethics in their work. The work of such organization is crucial for any kind of research that includes human participation.
Ethical Considerations in Qualitative Research
The peculiar feature of any qualitative research is the presence of constant shifts in the existing ethical practices (Lincoln, 2009). Researchers have to develop new topics and discuss new themes using ordinary humans as the main subjects in their works. Therefore, to protect human subjects, a number of ethical considerations are developed. Lincoln (2009) recognizes five main ethical principles that have to be introduced when a qualitative research method is chosen: balance (also known as fairness), ontological authenticity, educative authenticity, catalytic authenticity, and tactical authenticity. Fairness is the criteria according to which researchers have to locate their stakeholders and persuade them to participate in research. Ontological authenticity defines the peculiarities of data collection and analysis. Educational authenticity informs about the available social constructions. Catalytic authenticity is used to make sure that all facts and approaches are interesting and appropriate for stakeholders and lead to positive outcomes. Finally, tactical authenticity helps to choose appropriate communicative and investigating skills. In general, all qualitative researchers have to take responsibility for informing participants and providing enough facts about a study and its outcomes. Participants and stakeholders have to understand all benefits and risks of the offered study and be able to make free decisions or even leave projects in case of emergency.
Ethical Considerations in Quantitative Research
The consideration of ethical principles in quantitative research is crucial for researchers. The government establishes and controls the standards for quantitative researchers and protects its vulnerable populations and ethnic groups (Mabry, 2009). As a rule, the recognition of such principles prevents fabrication of data or the use of wrong or inappropriate facts. The promotion of knowledge and truth is the main goal of qualitative research. Besides, researchers have to develop clear and rigorous procedures and definitions so that participants and stakeholders should not ask additional questions. It is wrong to manipulate data or make the participants give the answers which are more appropriate for research discussion. The quality of quantitative research depends on the level of truth allowed. Finally, the protection of participants rights and freedoms depends on the ability of researchers do no harm to all human subjects. Therefore, research process details and the utilization of information should be clarified and discussed before the actual work on the project begins. The main considerations include voluntary participation, the provision of informed consent, guarantees, clarification of potential risks and benefits, confidentiality, and anonymity. Participants should realize that there are no obligations or rules that have to be followed against their desire. The task is not to check the level of knowledge and give grades or develop some judgments. Qualitative research aims at gathering statistics to discuss the chosen topic, and ethical considerations help to recognize the main tasks.
Ethical Considerations in Action/Evaluation Research
Action research is characterized by an effective development of practical, critical, and technical models in terms of which it is necessary to define a problem and found out a solution (Banegas & Villacanas de Castro, 2015). As well as action research, evaluation research depends on a number of standards, guidelines, and principles with the help of which the researcher learns what to do, how to cooperate with participants, and which behavior should be chosen (Wolf, Turner, & Toms, 2009). Action/evaluation research should begin with the clarifications if their tests and programs can be dangerous for participants. There are four additional principles that can be offered to the idea of minimizing the risks of harm. For example, it is necessary to obtain informed consent so that all stakeholders understand what kind of work has to be done and what outcomes should be achieved (Mark & Gamble, 2009). Stakeholders have to learn what steps they should take to achieve the goals. Like any kind of research, action/evaluation research should protect participants’ anonymity and confidentiality. The researcher has to avoid deceptive practices and provide all participants with a chance to withdraw research.
Institutional Review Board Purpose
The clarification of ethical standards is a crucial step in any research, and the Institutional Review Board (IRB) is the committee that usually consists of five or more members who have to protect research participants, make sure research is valid, risks are minimized, and all information is clearly revealed (Speiglman & Spear, 2009). For example, the IRB of the Trident University works in accordance with three main ethical principles: respect for people (people are recognized as independent being with certain rights and the possibility to decide everything voluntary), justice (all participants learn of risks and benefits of research in a fair way), and beneficence (all research subjects remain to be protected from any harm) (Trident University International, 2014).
Any research project at the TUI has to be performed in accordance with the IRB process where data collection is performed through interventions, interactions, and evaluations. Candidates have to gather all supporting documents and take responsibility for all actions. The documents to be considered are a written permission from an administrator, a consent form, a research protocol, a list of data collection instruments, the examples of the letters sent to the participants, a document with the financial interests clearly identified, and a written proof of research (Trident University International, 2014). Besides, a significant step in the IRB process is the identification of the title of the project and other details with the help of which the representatives of the committee could understand the appropriateness and the worth of the project.
Personal Progress on IRB Process
At this moment, not many steps are taken in regard to my application. Such components as an approval or research protocol and methodology and the identification of data instruments have to be considered. These steps will be addressed soon in order to identify the type of work that has to be done and the resources that are available. It is hard to comprehend if all planned issues can be used in a research project. The evaluation of the opportunities shows if a researcher is ready for the chosen type of work, if there is an access to all potential participants, and if there is enough time to collect data and analyze it in a clear and effective way.
My future project will discuss the opportunities of female students in higher education in order to become successful leaders. The title of the project is as follows: “Gender Differences and Perceptions of Higher Education: How to Become a Strong Leader”.
Nowadays, people want to believe that gender inequality is not a problem, and the representatives of both genders have access to the same opportunities. However, this issue remains to be a problem in many countries, and the perceptions of the role of women in such fields as management or leadership vary considerably. It is not enough to understand the existence of the problem. It is important to identify its emergency and think about the steps that can be taken to find a solution. Higher education is the possibility for people to develop their attitudes and learn how to use their knowledge in everyday life. Female and male students may be provided with different opportunities in education, as well as in jobs (Goldin, 2014). Researchers continue investigating how a gender issue may be constituted in the academy and offering their ideas on how to improve the situation and offer the opportunities that can be used in leadership mastering (Kahu, 2013; Morley, 2013). It is necessary to investigate if the quality of education can determine the development of leadership skills. The rationale of this project is to discover what female students think about their job opportunities and if they believe that education is a key factor to leadership. Besides, the opinions of experienced women should be gathered about their education, job choices, and achievements in order to clarify if an education type had an impact on the possibility of being a leader.
The main research question of this research is: Do such issues as education and gender can determine leadership skills? To find the answer to this question, it is possible to develop several additional questions like:
- What is gender equity in education and job performance?
- What do researchers say about who are better leaders, men or women?
- What are the differences between male and female leadership?
- What is the role of higher education in the development of leadership skills?
- What do women think about their opportunities in academia and work?
The discussion of a methodological section is a crucial step that has to be taken by any researcher to prove the appropriateness and effectiveness of the chosen topic. A methodology is the identification of the research design, data sources, preparations, data collection, and analysis. A quantitative survey is chosen for discussion of the research question. Much attention should be paid to the way of how the information can be gathered, the participants can be chosen, and the material can be analyzed. An online questionnaire has to be developed in order to attract the attention of the people from different parts of the world (if possible). Facebook can be used as the main social network where the researcher can choose the participants and ask them to take a questionnaire and answer several questions regarding their personal opinions, experiences, and knowledge. The main inclusion criteria for such online survey are: the age of the participants (18-20 years, 22-24 years, and 30-38 years), gender (the answers of female participants are required), and the level of experience (school students, college students, female employees, and female leaders). Such selection proves the appropriateness of the chosen research design and helps to define the boundaries of the investigation.
The opinions of different women are gathered to clarify if the level of education can influence the possibility of gaining leading positions among women. In addition to the analysis of the literary sources published between 2013 and 2017 years, it is expected to introduce women’s perceptions of higher education and leadership. Questionnaires will be sent via emails, Facebook services, and Skype. If people agree, they can answer the questions in an oral form through the phone or face-to-face meetings.
One of the steps of the IRB process is to inform the participants. It is expected to invite 400 female participants using different methods of communication, explain to them the details of the project, and introduce the research question that has to be answered after they share their thoughts about higher education, gender equity, and leadership. The participants should understand that the goal is to introduce a female position using the experiences, challenges, and knowledge of women.
The data preparation procedures include the development of a questionnaire form and getting approval from the committee. The peculiar feature of this questionnaire is that each group of participants has to answer different questions regarding the level of experience: female students aged 18-20 years (5 questions), female students aged 22-24 years (7 questions), female employees aged 30-38 years (5 questions), and female leaders aged 30-38 years (7 questions). As soon as women agree to participate in the project, they have to be divided into four groups and provided with the questionnaires by the means that is appropriate for them.
A data analysis procedure is the creation of the table with the answers to the questions and calculating the percentage of the answers. The questions of the questionnaires have to be divided into the categories that correspond to the research questions of the study. As soon as the categorization of the answers is introduced, the discussion can be developed.
The significance of research contributes the fields of education and leadership in several ways. First, it is necessary to say that the offered study is based on the opinions of women only. There is no need to consider what men can think on the chosen topic and the role of women in education and leadership. This research is focused on a female position. Second, this work aims at gathering the opinions of women from different parts of the world. There are no geographical boundaries or cultural/ethnic diversities being recognized. The task is to gather as many female opinions on their education and leadership as possible. Finally, the researcher’s focus is on the opportunities that are available to female students who want to develop their careers in future and achieve leading positions. The development of the recommendations should help females understand their chances as leaders. They should not compare themselves to men or consider other issues like culture, traditions, or moral norms. They have to focus on their own interests and attitudes to the situation when higher education can predetermine their leadership skills.
In general, this project can be developed in different ways, and the direction depends on females’ intentions to participate and share their stories. An approval of the IRB to cooperate with different women is the achievement that has to be made by the researcher.
Banegas, D.L., & Villacanas de Castro, L.S. (2015). A loot at ethical issues in action research in education. Argentinian Journal of Applied Linguistics, 3(1), 58-67.
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Kahu, E.R. (2013). Framing student engagement in higher education. Studies in Higher Education, 38(5), 758-773.
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Wolf, A., Turner, D., & Toms, K. (2009). Ethical perspectives in program evaluation. In D. Mertens & P. Ginsberg (Eds.), The handbook of social research ethics (pp. 170–185). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.