Discussion Thread: Ethical Dilemma in Research

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 Please read below and the attachment carefully.

For each reply, respond as if you were the research advisor for the graduate student seeking advice. Make sure to include all the following components:

  • Did the graduate student adequately justify two ethically viable responses to the dilemma? If not, what is missing?
  • Select the solution you feel is the best response (it can be one of the proposed solutions or you can come up with your own).

Reply Assignment Instructions

This assignment consists of two replies. No quotes are permitted – paraphrase, put information into your own words, and cite appropriately using current APA formatting conventions. Address all required components for maximum points. Your two replies must be 200 words each

Reply Content

`For each, respond as if you were the research advisor answering your student’s letter. Make sure to include all of the following components:

· Did the graduate student adequately and equally justify two ethically viable courses of action in response to the dilemma? If not, what is missing?

· Choose the most appropriate / compelling course of action (it can be one of the proposed solutions or you can come up with your own).

· Describe why you feel that course of action is most appropriate.

· Include at least one citation to justify this decision (APA Ethics Code, Federal regulations, and/or Bible).

· Create a Reference section for all citations using current APA style format (1 entry minimum).

Reply Format

All replies must incorporate at least one (1) in-text citation to the APA Ethics Code and then a Reference section. Replies to your peers should be thoughtful, educated, and professional. Avoid unsubstantiated opinions or claims, personal comments, or general comments such as the following, which will result in 
loss of points:

· “Great job on your introduction / discussion post,”

· “I totally agree with everything you said,”

· “Good luck in the rest of the class,” etc


American Psychological Association. (2017).

Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct (2002, Amended June 1, 2010 and January 1, 2017).

Hammersley, M. & Traianou, A. (2012)
Ethics and Educational Research. British Educational Research Association on-line resource. http://www.learnersfirst.net/private/wp-content/uploads/Ethics-and-Educational-Research.pdf

Person 1 Kathy:

Dear Research Advisor, 


I am writing to inform you of a current situation of ethical concern that I am facing in my current research study of educational challenges that arise when working with special needs students. As we have been preparing to begin our research study we first had to obtain consent from the students’ parents or legal guardians regarding participating in said study. However, I have been placed in a slightly difficult situation regarding participant involvement and consent. I was confronted by a young adult female with severe learning disabilities who insisted on being a part of the study; normally this would not be an issue as the female is 18 and legally allowed to consent for herself, but due to her disabilities her parents had already refused her participation on her behalf. 

I believe there are two different ways in which I can approach this situation; (1) I can leave the young female out of the research study due to her learning disabilities and parental refusal; (2) allow the individual to join the research study along with her classmates as she is of legal consenting age. I decided to look over and review the Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct to develop my course of action; after review, two out of the five principles stood out to me: Principle Principle D: Justice and Principle E: Respect for People’s Rights and Dignity (APA, 2017). 


1. Principle D: (APA, 2017). The Justice principle focuses on ensuring that as psychologists we must ensure that every person has the right and is offered participation/benefits from all works of psychological research. Regardless of an individual’s mental or physical impairments, psychologists cannot overlook these people as potential members for research studies. The female’s parents might have felt they were choosing what they felt was best for their daughter due to her learning disabilities and understandings; but according to section 3.10 (a), Informed Consents, Human Relations; researchers must obtain consent from participants in ways that is easily understandable (APA, 2017). Section 3.10 (a) was created to ensure individuals are not overlooked or excluded from psychological measures due to possible language barriers or understandings. Creating a consent form and explaining the methods and research goals of my study to the young female in a way that she feels she understands; would allow her the opportunity to consent herself based on her understanding and willingness to participate. 

2. Principle E: (APA, 2017). Psychologists cannot refuse a person from their study due to one’s age, disability, religion, gender, sexual orientation, etc. Psychologists themselves might feel differently and have their own opinions on these areas listed above; however, they must ensure they exclude their biases and respect the rights of humans. As researchers in this study, we must step back and ignore the idea that since the young female is limited in her learning abilities and her parents could know what is best; she is an 18-year-old adult and is responsible for her consent for participation. Section 1.02 Conflicts Between Ethics and Law, Regulations, or Other Governing Legal Authority (APA, 2017), was written to ensure that all psychologists follow the federal rules and regulations of human rights. When an individual turns 18 they are legally adults and can make their life decisions regarding medical and psychological treatment. As a psychologist, I must abide by the best wishes and interests of my research candidates and therefore should allow the said individual to join the research study as she is over the legal age to make her own decisions. 

After reviewing my situation, I have decided to go forward and allow the young adult female to participate in my research study on educational challenges. I must work in the best interest of my participants. By following the rules and regulations of the law and ethical principles created by the APA it is only right to allow her participation in my study. 

I look forward to your response and guidance on which plan of action I should take on this current study issue. Thank you for your assistance. 




American Psychological Association. (2017).
 Ethical principles of psychologists and code of

conduct (2002, Amended June 1, 2010 and January 1, 2017). 


Person 2 Monique:

Dear Graduate Research Advisor,

My name is Monique Brown, and I am a Social Psychology doctoral student. Currently I am studying educational challenges when working with students who have special needs. In my process to prepare for research, I have come across a dilemma where a student approached me and expressed her desire to be included in the research.

The problem with this situation is that the young lady has severe learning difficulties and her parents have refused participation in the research on her behalf as guardians.I am not aware of any any mental difficulties this young lady may have that prevent her from giving informed consent, and the individual is demanding to be included in the research. The individual has said that she is legally an adult since she is 18 years old and should be included in the research with the rest of her classmates.

I have thought about this dilemma and ways that I should handle it; however, I am having a challenging time deciding on what would be the best decision for this matter. First, I need to get proof that the parents have legal guardianship over this young adult. If my findings result in them having legal guardianship over her, the parents have the right to refuse participation , and I must explain why she cannot take part in the research.

I do not want her to think that I am discriminating against her for any learning or mental disabilities that she has, therefore need to do everything I can to ensure I make the right decision. General Principle E: Respect for People’s Right and Dignity states that psychologists should respect individuals and their differences including those based on age, gender, disabilities, etc.” (Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct. (2017). Section 3.01 Unfair Discrimination provides information for :discrimination based on disabilities.”

According to the APA ( Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct. (2017). Section 3.10 Informed Consent persons who are legally incapable of giving informed consent, should have someone who can do it for them and if they can’t participation research provide an appropriate explanation to them.

I just want to get all the proper documentation I need for proof of guardianship of this young lady before I even proceed with the research. Fairness and Justice allows all people to reach and benefit from the contributions in psychology according to General Principle D which gives information about justice for all participants. If the parents have legal guardianship, then I will respect their rights and explain as I previously said. If she can consent to research for herself then I will explain the research and all the details of the research to her, get consent from and move on with all the classmates.

Do you think I am going about this dilemma correctly? I hope you can assist me with finding a way to navigate this situation so that the student is treated fairly, and I can move forward with my research. 


In Wellness,



Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct “Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct.” http://www.apa.org/ethics/code.|


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