The need to improve scientific research and to address the troubling ethical issues that accompanied the same saw the inception of the principles of ethical research practice. The purpose of the principles in research and practice is to assist scientists, reviewers, subjects, as well as interested citizens to have an understanding of the ethical issues of inherence in research that involves human subjects. It should also be noted that the principles of ethical research practice have the objective of providing a platform or framework that guides how ethical problems that arise from research that involves human subjects are resolved (Vitak et al, 2016). However, on numerous occasions, these principles of respect for persons, beneficence, and justice have been violated. It is beyond reasonable doubt that the provided protocol in one way or another, is in violation of the principles.
The principle of respect for person states that individuals involved in research ought to be treated as autonomous agents and that those with diminished autonomy must be entitled to protection (Vitak et al, 2016). In the research in the provided protocol, like most researches, it is imperative for individuals entering or involved in research to do so voluntarily, and they ought to have adequate information about what the research is all about. However, as seen in the protocol, once the owners of the nail salons agree to participate in the research, nail technician workers, who will be the subjects of the research, will have no alternative but to participate in the research and they will be required to wear the air-sampling equipment during the workday for the duration of the research period. In such a case, the nail technicians will not participate voluntarily in the research and neither will they have adequate information about the research. This highlights the fact that the research will be in violation of the principle of respect for persons.
Besides, the principle of beneficence states that subjects in research should not only be treated in an ethical manner by respecting their decisions and protecting them from harm, but they should also have their well-being secured (Vanclay et al, 2013). Primarily, this principle believes that researchers should give forethought to the maximization of benefits and ensure that the potential risks that a subject might face are reduced. Nevertheless, there is no assurance that the subjects in the research in the provided protocol will be protected from potential risks that might arise from taking part in the study. For instance, the nail technicians will be required to wear the air-sampling equipment as well as increase the number of acrylic nail sculpturing procedures, both of which might put their health conditions at risk. As such, the research will, without a doubt, be in violation of the principle of beneficence.
On the other hand, the principle of justice champions for fair distribution of benefits and burdens of research among the subjects. In the real sense, a subject in a given research ought not to be denied benefits without a good reason or suffer from an undue imposition of burden (Miller, 2003). For the research in the provided protocol, there is a clear statement that the researcher will offer an incentive to the salons, presumably salon owners, who will agree to take part in the research. However, the protocol does not mention whether the nail technicians, who will be the subjects of the research, will receive part of the incentive despite the risks involved in taking part in the research. Thus, this highlights how the research in the protocol will be in violation of the principle of justice.
There are several perspectives that the researcher ought to put in place so as to improve the research protocol and make it more ethically sound. First, it is seen that the success of the research depends on having the nail technicians, who in this case are the subjects, wear the air-sampling equipment during the day for the duration of the study period as well as having them increase the number of acrylic nail sculpting procedures. It is important for the researcher to contact the subjects to determine those who are willing and those who are not willing to take part on the research. Besides, the researcher should ensure that the subjects are provided with adequate information about the research, what it entails, and the possible risks of the same. Second, other than informing the subjects of the potential risks of the research, the researcher should ensure that they are indeed protected from the risks that might arise from the process. For instance, the researcher should give an assurance that he or she will cater for any health complications that might be experienced during the research. Third, the researcher should not only offer incentives to the salon owners but should also ensure that the nail technicians, who will play a key role in the research, are offered incentives to motivate and encourage them to participate in the process. This will prevent an occurrence where the subjects will be overlooked when it comes to sharing or distribution of the research’s benefits (Miller, 2003).
Miller, R. B. (2003). How the Belmont Report Fails.Essays in Philosophy, 4(2), 6.
Vanclay, F., Baines, J. T., & Taylor, C. N. (2013). Principles for ethical research involving humans: ethical professional practice in impact assessment Part I. Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal, 31(4), 243-253.
Vitak, J., Shilton, K., & Ashktorab, Z. (2016). Beyond the Belmont Principles: Ethical Challenges, Practices, and Beliefs in the Online Data Research Community. In Proceedings of the 19th ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing (CSCW 2016).