Research experience and agreement with selected ethics principles from Canada’s “Tri-Council Policy Statement – Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans.”
Fahy, Patrick J.
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An online survey was conducted of students, instructors, and researchers in distance education regarding principles for the ethical treatment of human research subjects. The study used an online questionnaire, based on principles drawn from Canada’s Tri-Council Policy Statement, Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans (TCPS, 2003), which the authors had sometimes found problematic in their own distance education practice (as researchers, and in their work with graduate students). Overall, findings showed that respondents tended to agree with the principles presented, whether consistent or not with the TCPS; however, those with more research experience showed a tendency to agree more with questionnaire items that were consistent with the TCPS, and less with those items not consistent with the Policy, a pattern that was more pronounced in a group of twenty-five published researchers. Conclusions were that research experience was associated with greater agreement with the Policy’s principles, with ethics issues, and with REB experience; that, by their own admission, many participants were not well acquainted with the TCPS; and that efforts to address the reservations of distance education researchers about ethics review should include the involvement of experienced researchers, as this group likely best represents the ethical norms and practices of the field.