Psychologists use research for any number of reasons. They use written material, digital sources and human subjects as tools in which to test their theories. In order to produce reliable, truthful results, students of psychology must address ethical issues before beginning and publishing their findings.
Ethical use of intellectual property
All written material, test procedures and results must originate with the student. Plagiarizing or presenting someones finished work as his or her own must not happen. This is called stealing another person’s intellectual property.
Ethical disclosures to test subjects
Test subjects must be aware of all the hazards of a test or study and understand they’re free to stop or quit at any time. Failure to inform test subjects of this information may lead to undue stress, health problems and lawsuits.
People used in psychological tests must know what harm may come to them at any time during the study. Their ability to stop the tests or quit the study should be in writing and signed or otherwise authorized by the subject. Unethical testing of dangerous chemicals or substances, like exposing subjects to these without their knowledge or consent is an issue best avoided.
Ethical business practices
The psychologist must select projects and participants that do not intentionally lead to his or her personal financial gain. This means a study can not include friends or family of the researcher and products used cannot be those of an entity owned in part or by share holding of the psychologist.
Ethical information collecting
Issues of privacy arise when personal information gathered is used to contact subjects or released for others to view. If possible, test subjects should be given contact information for the administrator without needing to provide their information other than an email address.
Ethical psychology practices encompass issues ranging from plagiarism, prior consent, disclosures and protection of privacy. Other issues will come up in the future that require ethical review before becoming common practice.