Research Methodology

Some of the ethical issues found in the research methodology section are relevant regardless of your project's topic or area of study. However, different types of research designs raise different ethical issues. Think of the differences between a randomized controlled trial (RCT) and a qualitative interview ethical components that are not present in a qualitative interview. Some methods can provide participants with anonymity, while others raise ethical issues around privacy. Conducting research on a person’s biological samples has different ethical issues compared to asking them personal questions about sensitive issues.

Please choose one of the following subtopics

Survey Used as a research methodology to better understand the views of large numbers of people on any issue. In humanitarian and disaster settings, the environment or setting of survey research can create additional risks to research distinct from survey studies conducted in conventional settings.
Biological Sample Study How biological samples are collected, stored, and used affect the participants from whom samples are collected from because of the risk to privacy and confidentiality. Data generated from biological samples serves a valuable role during or after disasters, but these studies must be balanced with heightened respect for the individuals and their community so they are not exploited.
Vaccine Trial
Clinical Trial Clinical trials are conducted to evaluate pharmaceutical, biomedical, vaccination or other health interventions. They are especially important during a disaster or health emergency to improve aid responses and clinical care. However, poorly designed clinical trials may add additional burdens to affected populations.
Randomized Study Randomized studies are conducted when there is genuine uncertainty concerning the safety, effectiveness, or usefulness of an intervention. These studies make it possible to provide those affected by crises the most effective and safe interventions. However, conducting randomized studies in crisis settings carries increased risk and burdens for participants, and also raises questions about their ethical appropriateness.
Non-Randomized Study These are a group of research study designs that do not randomly allocate an intervention or treatment to participants. This type of study is often used in chronic-conflict or post-disaster settings to evaluate mental health interventions, psychosocial programs or system changes. It is an appropriate research design in scenarios where it is considered unethical to withhold an intervention from a study population or impractical to randomize participants. However, their use in biomedical research during acute health emergencies continues to be a point of disagreement on both ethical and scientific grounds.
Focus Group A qualitative study where a group of people comes together to answer questions and discuss issues at greater length and depth. Focus groups can be positively used to establish trust, collaboration, and understanding with an affected community
Genetic Research Studying the relationship between genes and the environment serves an important role after a disaster or conflict. It can also help to better understand and treat non-communicable diseases in populations impacted by disasters. The timing and social value of genetic research must be carefully considered by researchers.
Surveillance Distinct from research practice, yet often mirroring research activities, surveillance is an important, ongoing public health practice. Surveillance involves ongoing, systematic collection and analysis of health-related data that is used to guide public health practice. To be a socially valuable tool, surveillance activities should be inclusive, accountable, aware of privacy and confidentiality issues, and beneficial to local populations.

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