Ethical Research: How to Keep Your Customers & Research Ethics in Sync

Ethical research is more than just doing your research the right way. Sure, that’s important, but it’s only the beginning. You also need to think about presenting your results in an ethical manner, and making sure your research questions align with the larger purpose of your work. For instance, if you’re conducting economic research, you might want to consider the needs of your audience and whether your results will actually help them. In this blog post, we’ll discuss some of the key considerations and issues that you need to bear in mind when planning or executing your ethical research project.

The Research Question & Purpose

The first step to conducting ethical research is clearly deciding on the topic and question you will address. This is often a tricky process because you don’t want to veer off track and end up doing research on a topic that is not relevant to your customer base, or worse, something that may not even be feasible. To avoid this pitfall, it is essential to set explicit criteria for your research question. These should be measurable, testable hypotheses that you feel are important to address. For instance, you can ask whether or not women will respond differently than men to your product offers. Or, if you are studying online shopping, you can compare online shoppers’ behavior in different countries to identify potential differences that may arise due to cultural factors. Once you have your research question, you can begin to craft a plan to address it. Setting clear criteria for your research question will also help you determine the precise scope of your research project. Remember, not everything that can be measured, can be captured in a survey. This will help you narrow the focus of your research, and ultimately lead to more effective studies.

The Methodology

Once you have your research question in mind, you can begin to think about the methodology that you will use to answer it. There are several options when it comes to research methods, and you need to think about which one will be the best fit for your project (if you’re just starting out, chances are, you will want to use quantitative methods).

One of the primary considerations when choosing your research methodology is the size of your sample. The reason behind this is simple. If you’re conducting a quantitative research project, you will want to have a large sample to get reliable answers. If your sample is small, the results of your study may be skewed. Keep in mind that larger samples are generally more expensive and time-consuming to obtain. If your sampling strategy is based on the random selection of participants, make sure that you have chosen a method that allows you to generate an accurate representation of the population you are studying. For instance, if you are studying U.S. shoppers’ behavior, but your sample includes only people from California, you may be misrepresenting the overall U.S. population of online shoppers. When planning your research, make sure that you think about the implications of your sample size and selection method, and whether or not it will be adequate for your study.

Ethical Dressing

When we think about conducting ethical research, it is often associated with clinical trials or experiments in labs. However, there are several examples of research that is conducted entirely online or over the phone, and in a variety of industries, from marketing to economics to neuroscience. As a researcher, you will inevitably be asked to dress professionally for interviews or focus groups, and it is important that you’re aware of the ethical obligations this may create. While it is not required that you disclose your affiliation with the research project at the point of contact, you should do so soon after the interview or focus group. In these situations, it is usually best to opt out or out-of-scope for potential conflicts of interest. If you find that you cannot readily inform your customers or potential customers about your involvement in the study, either way, you should opt out or exclude yourself from the study entirely. Otherwise, you may be put in an invidious position of having to choose which findings to present and which to bury.

The Presentation Of Findings

Once you have collected all of your necessary data, the next step is to process and analyze it. To ensure that your results are of the highest quality, it is essential that you consider how you will present and discuss your findings. This is important because there are several things that you need to avoid, including:

  • Overemphasis on statistics
  • Overreliance on key words
  • Assuming that your results will be understood by the larger audience
  • Giving too much detail about your methodology
  • Excessive use of numbers (e.g., for a qualitative study)
  • Treating customers like subjects rather than focusing on their needs
  • Focusing too much on short-term results
  • Assuming that your results will be published

To ensure that your findings are of the highest quality and most likely to be appreciated by your customers, you should aim to present your results in a clear, concise, and accurate manner. To do this, you will want to consider the following elements:

  • The language you will use
  • The style of your writing
  • The structure of your presentation
  • Whether or not to use visual aids
  • Whether or not to cite existing research
  • The tone of your presentation
  • How much of your presentation you will deliver
  • Whether or not to show your work.
  • How much detail to provide about your methodology
  • Whether or not to discuss limitations in your study
  • Whether or not to interpret your results
  • Whether or not your findings will be applicable to other situations
  • Whether or not you are using appropriate statistical tests for your study
  • Whether or not you are presenting the results of an experiment or a naturalistic observation

As a researcher, you have to decide what is the most ethical and accurate way of presenting your results. Sometimes, this can be challenging because there is so much to consider. In cases like this, it is usually best to consult with a statistician or an expert in scientific writing. In the end, you will need to choose what you feel is right for your particular audience, and the ethics of your choice may vary. However, keeping customer information secure and private is always the priority.