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Unformatted text preview: Ethics in Market Research: Concerns over Rights of Research Participants Sami Al Smadi* This paper discusses the growing concern over violation of research ethics relating to deception of research participants, lack of informed consent, and invasion of privacy. The paper highlights the interaction of the three main parties involved in most marketing research: the sponsoring organization (client or user), researcher, and the participant in the survey. It focuses attention on the rights and obligations involved in the relationship between the researcher and participant, stressing the importance of moral behaviour and ethical values of research in collecting data from participants. 1. Introduction Ethical research questions are sometimes raised due to unclear behavioral expectations and moral responsibilities of marketing researchers who interact with respondents to collect and analyze marketing data, and report findings to their clients. In fact, the rights and obligations of the researcher (or fieldworker), client, and the respondent are usually dictated by societal norms, which represent codes of behavior, suggesting what members of the society ought to do under given circumstances (Zikmund, 2003). Certain ethical behaviour is normally expected from researchers when they deal with respondents. For example, an ethical issue is raised when a researcher believes he/she has the right to seek certain information, such as consumer income or spending on certain products, while a respondent feels that this is an invasion of privacy, thus does not respond to similar questions, or even refuses to participate in the whole survey. In general, some scholars believe that writing on the subject of research ethics is often frustrating because of four reasons (Bryman and Bell, 2007): ____________________ *Associate Professor Dr Sami Alsmadi, Department of Management, Marketing and Public Admin.College of Business Administration,University of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates 2 1) Writers differ widely on ethical issues in research. They often disagree on what is and is not ethically acceptable in social research. 2) The main elements in the debate over ethical research have not changed for the past fifty years. 3) Debates about research ethics emphasized certain extreme cases of alleged ethical transgression, while in fact the potential for unethical research is much larger. 4) Some cases of unethical research are often associated with particular research methods, such as disguised observation and deception in experiments. In fact, the ethical question resides particularly with the intentional misuse of these methods. Obviously, ethical issues can be raised throughout all phases of research, notably problem definition, stating research objectives/ hypotheses, literature review, choice of research design, questionnaire design, data collection procedures, data editing and cleaning, choice of statistical methods, data analysis, conclusions and recommendations, and even referencing.analysis, conclusions and recommendations, and even referencing....
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- Spring '12