Handling ethical issues in data analysis

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Preliminary Reading: So far you have studied ethical issues in the display of data (Nolan and Heinzen, Ch. 3), but the discipline of statistics is governed by ethical guidelines that cover other areas including data analysis, interpretation, and reporting. Read the following sources concerning ethics in working with data and statistics:

1. Ethical Guidelines for Statistical Practice. (1999). Committee on Professional Ethics, American Statistical Association. (Required sections: Part I (“Preamble”), and Part II (Ethical Guidelines, Sections A, C, E, F, and G) (Attached PDF)

2. Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct. (2010). American Psychological Association. (Required sections: Standard 5.01 and Standards 8.10 through 8.15) http://www.apa.org/ethics/code/index.aspx 

3. Kromrey, J.D. 1993. Ethics and data analysis. Educational Researcher, 22(4), p. 24–27. (Not required, but a highly recommended and related short article.

Scenario: Imagine you are working on a research paper with a partner. The two of you have been studying the effect of two types of therapy on combat-related PTSD symptoms, and your research hypothesis is that one treatment will be superior to the other. You have collected the data and are finished analyzing the numbers, and the results show that the treatments are not significantly different from one another in their effects. Though you are both disappointed, you yourself accept the results and are ready to start writing them up, when your research partner suggests going back and making some “small changes” to the data in order to try to make the preferred treatment look more successful. You have reviewed the ethical standards listed above and understand the expectation of integrity involved in research. After hearing your partner’s proposal, you decide to write him/her a letter in response.

Thread Prompt: to your partner responding to his/her suggestion to manipulate data.

1.  Include supporting information from the 2 required sources listed in the reading (required), and any additional sources (optional). You may want to include the possible consequences of data manipulation in this particular field of study (PTSD).

2. Find and include a passage of Scripture relating to integrity, honesty, or another related concept, and explain why it applies in the context of this situation and how it affects your response (required).

3. Include current APA-style references at the bottom of the letter, in case your research partner wants to review the guidelines mentioned in your letter or find the verses you share (required).

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