When creating a dissertation, candidates conduct doctoral research, which allows them to make a contribution to the field. This paper tends to prove that it is significant for the success of the work to be prepared according to the ethical principles. It includes the information that reveals how to ensure that all aspects of research meet the ethical standards. Attention is paid to the whole dissertation process, starting with the literature review, mentioning the study and ending with the manuscript.
Any research that is conducted by students or professionals who work in a particular field has a potential to influence the lives of the sample and the scientists. The way people behave and feel, their autonomy and integrity can be affected adversely by the actions of the researchers. In order to prevent or at least minimalize such influences, ethics codes and regulations were created. They serve as a guideline for those who conduct research and help to determine what is “right” and what is “wrong” in the particular circumstances. Ethical principles that are aligned with professional practice can generally be found in the code of practice. It includes the information related to the most common issues and decisions and allows differentiating “ethical” and “unethical” behavior. The application of these peculiarities is vital for all researchers, including doctoral candidates. Moreover, dealing with the highest level of research in academia, they are expected to ensure that the study meets all requirements and does not violate any regulations.
All parts of doctoral research should meet the ethical standards of scientific research. Starting with the literature review, the candidate should follow ethical principles. In this situation, they deal with the way the information is obtained and used in the dissertation. One should consider the usage of citations I order to avoid plagiarism. There should be a section, which discusses research ethics, including the samples awareness of the research, possible threats, etc. The paper can also consist of the comparison of the expected and actual ethics with the explanation of the observed differences. The presence of this information is vital for the dissertation results, as it can be used to prove that the candidate has acquired all necessary skills and is able to make a step forward.
Ethics and Dissertation
Considering the very notion of “ethics”, Paul and Elder stated that it is “a set of concepts and principles that guide us in determining what behavior helps or harms sentient creatures” (Givi, Mazaheri, Alizamani, & and Dehbashi, 2014, p. 25). Professionals also paid attention to the fact that ethics is universally defined, which means that it is not supposed to differ due to the cultural or religious differences. These principles can be found in the UN Declaration of Human Rights, for example, and other related documents (Have, 2010). The task of a person who conducts a research is to be well aware of the ethical considerations and the way they should be used in practice. The emphasis is to be made on the fairness and benefits to society. According to Sachs (2010) codes of ethics are often aligned with the “canonical codes of conduct: the Nuremberg Code, the Declaration of Helsinki, the Belmont Report, International Ethical Guidelines for Biomedical Research Involving Human Subjects, and Ethical and Policy Issues in International Research: Clinical Trials in Developing Countries” (p. 3).
A candidate who is preparing a dissertation should refer to ethics to protect oneself and those who will participate in the study (Harris, 2005). In the framework of the general education, the candidate should refer to the appropriate code of ethics. In this case, it will be the one approved by the American Educational Research Association. It includes both ethical principles and standards that can cover professional situations experienced during educational research, and protects those individuals who work with the candidate (The AERA Council, 2011).
While working on a dissertation, a candidate is expected to develop the idea for the future research, prepares a concept paper and a proposal and defends them, provides a final variant of the dissertation and seeks its approval. In order to avoid possible issues during these procedures, one applies published ethical guidelines to research.
First of all, a candidate is to ensure that one’s paper will be free of plagiarism. The ideas that are mentioned by this person, the words one says and the conclusions one makes should be entailed by the original source and writer unless they were developed by this individual. If during the defense professionals find out that the paper is not original, the candidate can face adverse complications. They can be personal or professional, such as the loss of authority and the disapproval of the dissertation. Ethical problems can occur as the right of publication is violated. Finally, the presence of plagiarism can lead to legal consequences, and the person can be charged. One can lose a job, or be not allowed to publish any other works. To find out if the dissertation is properly prepared and includes all needed citations, professionals refer to the plagiarism detection software. It is critical for the candidates to remember that even if a person was once caught on the plagiarism, one is likely to be suspected of it with the course of time also (Udo-Akang, 2013).
In the framework of the dissertation, plagiarism is usually observed as the initial usage of the idea that was developed by another scientist or the usage of the parts of the work that were copied from the source and then put in the candidate’s work. Even being paraphrased, those ideas that were developed by other individuals should be cited. Except for that, the researchers should not forget about the possibility of self-plagiarism. If some ideas were already published, they are to be cited regardless of the fact that the writer owns them. All dissertations need to pass the peer review process in order to be published. As a rule, the presence of plagiarism is identified during this stage if it was not initially noticed by the supervisor. The writing style, as well as the very text of the paper, are taken into considerations and assessed. Of course, the easiest way to see the presence of the plagiarism is to use the appropriate software. Still, sometimes only professionals can notice it, as they see the lack of citations, paraphrasing, the usage of outdated sources, inappropriate figures, and changes in the writing style. Thus, it is impossible to use the information “with no indication of the prior publication; to do so would be a violation” (Volz, 2007, p. 4).
In this way, the candidate who is willing to omit any plagiarism should prepare the work in one’s own words. It can be beneficial if one refers to the wide range of the related literature because the knowledge of the topic will be improved in this way, and the author will have more chances to express personal thoughts. Finally, all sources used when preparing the dissertation are to be cited according to the defined format.
Candidates who work on their dissertations are expected to pay much attention to the risk assessment. This process provides them with the opportunity to identify possible risks that may occur and get ready to cope with them. Mainly, it deals with those assets that are used by the author (Osei, 2013). For example, something dangerous may happen and influence the condition of the sample adversely. Such situations are to be eliminated as the educator (researcher) is responsible for the learners’ (sample) condition. Thus, one should consider what serious adverse situations may happen, what can cause them, who may be hurt and to what extent. For example, the excess usage of video materials can affect the sense of vision especially if they are of a poor quality and the lighting is poor. Being aware of these hazards, the researcher can consider precautionary measures and the way they can be utilized. In this way, one will also be able to adapt the study so that some of the possible problems identified earlier can be totally avoided. The assessment of potential risks will point out vulnerabilities and weaknesses that were initially missed.
Research is a crucial part of every dissertation. It determines its success or failure and allows to check in practice if the ideas considered by the candidate are true. In the field of general education, research is maintained with a sample that consists of the learners mainly but can also include the teaching staff. In order to involve this sample and start working, professionals are obliged to ensure that the participants agree to be involved (Osei, 2013). For such purpose, informed consent is used, which presupposes the disclosure of the study peculiarities. The characteristics of the participants should be noted before the study begins to ensure its validity. The attention can be paid to the gender, age, mental or physical condition, as they affect the results.
In the framework of informed consent, attention should also be paid to such element as disclosure, which deals with the participants’ understanding of the information required during the research. One should be sure that the sample can understand the langue and that it is not too complicated. Capacity should also be taken into consideration. In its framework, the professional informs the sample about the research peculiarities, such as its purpose, main facts, actions that will be conducted, etc., for it to consider possible consequences of its actions. Finally, the person who is working on the dissertation is obliged to ensure that the sample exercise free will to take part in the study. The principles of ethics are claimed to be violated if such steps are not undertaken. Such situation is usually prevented through the monitoring and evaluation procedures (Udo-Akang, 2013).
It should also be mentioned that the candidate who is writing a dissertation is to prepare special consent forms for the participants to have proof that the study is conducted appropriately. Thus, they should be scanned and stored to ensure their safety and the privacy of the participants. Moreover, if the study includes a questionnaire, the sample is to agree to complete it before starting to answer. If some clarifications may be required, the participants can also provide their contact information, which is not supposed to be disclosed or distributed. In addition, it is critical to mention that the candidate has an opportunity to change his mind and refuse to take part in research at any stage.
Privacy and Confidentiality
It is extremely significant in the framework of any research to ensure sample’s privacy and confidentiality, protecting people from possible adverse consequences of the participation in the study. If they are violated, and the information about these individuals is disclosed, they may experience shame or stigmatization. Mainly, privacy deals with the people’s right to keep their personal information undisclosed (Udo-Akang, 2013). It means that if they agree to share some data with the researcher, other individuals should not have an opportunity to get to know it. For example, one is not allowed to mention names or telephone numbers of the participants in the text of the paper. Privacy depends on trust, and the parties expect each other to follow the agreement. It is to be ensured through all states of the study. In the case of the questionnaire, the promise to ensure privacy and confidentiality can be added at the top or at the end of the paper. When the researcher refers to the interview, it can be done orally, or a separate copy can be provided. In the case of violation, the researcher may face numerous problems, including the disapproval of the paper, loss of the authoritativeness, and legal consequences.
Data handling and Reporting
The aim of the dissertation is to prove or discuss the idea developed by the candidate. In order to reach this target, one conducts research during which the data required for making a well-grounded conclusion is obtained. It is significant to ensure that it is put in a safe place to which people who have not worked on the research have no access (Osei, 2013). It is also critical to pay attention to the policies that focus on the handling of materials. Both electronic and non-electronic formats are to be taken into consideration. Today, they mainly include CDs, DVDs, and memory cards as well as printed documents, notebooks, and journals. Data handling is vital for the dissertation research because it deals with the integrity of the data, which can contain personal or confidential information that is to be secured. In this perspective, the way the materials are arranged plays an important role because it influences storage safety. Moreover, access to the electronic materials should be provided only to authorized users.
During the research, the author can obtain both quantitative and qualitative information depending on its nature. While quantitative data is rather objective, as it is gained with the help of measurement, qualitative data is often biased and subjunctive. That is why the researcher should pay more attention to the way the questions are built. It is also considered to be advantageous if the sample has an opportunity to clarify information and ask questions. Trying to ensure appropriate security of the information, the researcher is to realize its value, which presupposes the thorough understanding of the discussed topic and decent information reporting. The data that is revealed in a proper way tends to be considered more significant for the field and authoritative. The candidates are encouraged to maintain decent planning, supervision, and other needed procedures. In this way, they can order the data so that it can be easily managed and understood.
Mistakes and Negligence
When reporting the information obtained for the dissertation with the help of the research, the candidate is to ensure its integrity. Thus, one should consider the possibility of mistakes made during the study unintentionally or due to the negligence. They may appear at one stage of the process or more, such as the design of the experiment, the selection of tools, recording or interpretations (Osei, 2013).
In order to avoid mistakes, the candidates can undertake some precautionary measures. They are expected to make sure that the organization was properly organized during the whole writing process. The work should be peer reviewed, as it is the best way to prove that it is free from possible errors. As a result of such actions, the researcher can ensure the authenticity of the work and prove that no vital measures were violated.
Working with a Mentor
Working on the dissertation and the research that is a part of it, all candidates are expected to interact with a mentor. This is a must for them, and it should be put in place. According to Parsloe (2003), mentoring is that procedure, which is critical for the candidates because it enhances their opportunity to turn into those who they are willing to become in the nearest future. Mentors tend to support those individuals they work with, encouraging them to work more and not to stop. They help the candidates to develop, enhancing their belief in individual powers, enhancing knowledge and skills required in the field and during the work on the dissertation. Thus, they affect the routine of the candidates positively as well as future outcomes.
Mentoring is rather advantageous because it allows people who are interested in the same field cooperate, share ideas and experiences. People who are involved in it tend to build trust-based relations that improve the involvement of the both parties in the process. It allows to become self-aware and responsible as well.
Northcentral University Requirements for IRB Approval
For the dissertation to be successfully accomplished, the candidate is to apply to the Institutional Review Board (IRB). It is the final step that is to be maintained to receive approval. IRB considers whether research is ethical or not evaluating it from the different perspectives. The attention is paid to all processes that will be conducted with the involvement of human subjects so that it can be ensured that each of them will be aligned with the code of ethics. It is critical to remember that the information cannot be collected before the approval. The assistant dean of The Graduate School at Northcentral University states that “this process is designed to protect researchers and their affiliated institutions from undue risk and ensure the safety, welfare, rights and dignity of all research participants” (NCU, 2016, par. 5). For research required for the dissertation to get approval, the candidate minimalizes the risks for the participants so that those that remain are reasonable. One proves the significance of the knowledge that will be obtained and ensures equitable sampling. The researcher also ensures informed consent, safety and privacy (Osei, 2013).
The work on dissertation is a critical step that is to be made by all candidates who are willing to obtain doctor’s degree. The integral part of this process is research. It allows one to make a substantial contribution to the knowledge in the field and prove the readiness to work further. Conducting research in the framework of general education, candidates interact with human subjects, which requires a decent integration of ethical principles. Doubtfully, they need to ensure the absence of plagiarism, to consider possible risks and minimalize them, to inform the participants about the study peculiarities and ensure their privacy and confidentiality, to work with data accurately and avoid mistakes, to cooperate with a mentor, and to obtain IRB approval. Essential principles should be considered during all stages of doctoral research.
Thus, when conducting research, candidates should keep in mind that their actions affect other people, including the participants who allow them to obtain required information, mentors who support and encourage them, reviewers who evaluate the dissertation, and future readers who look for new information. To meet the expectations of all these people and complete the work successfully, the researchers should act according to the standards of ethics. They are to make sure that the participants will not be adversely affected by the study or its outcomes, following the code of ethics developed for the educational research. If it is neglected, the research and the whole dissertation can be questioned and disapproved, which will affect candidate’s future. So research should be conducted according to particular guidelines to meet all norms and reveal an understanding of ethical principles.
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