Psi Chi Statement Regarding Ethics in Research
Psi Chi promotes student involvement in research. One component of good research is adherence to strong ethical principles. Psi Chi recommends the following steps for student researchers.
Prior to collection of any data, all students involved in research should first consult with their faculty advisors about their institution’s policies regarding the use of human participants or animals in research. Depending on the institution, the department may have a faculty member and/or a committee designated for these types of questions and/or a committee. Any institution that has or will receive federal grant monies will have an Institutional Review Board (IRB) created to review research proposals using humans. If animals will be used in the research, the institution will probably has an Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC).
All students should be familiar with the discipline's history and policy regarding the use of human or animals in research. Some institutions may require student researchers to complete some form of training. Psi Chi recommends the following options.
- For animals, the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science offers resources and training through http://www.iacuc.org
- For human participants, there is a free on-line tutorial offered through the National Institute of Health that covers both the history and current policy that takes approximately one hour to complete. All users must register to complete the course: http://phrp.nihtraining.com/users/login.php. Some faculty require this online tutorial for their classes, and some universities require it for a study to be reviewed. Psi Chi recommends it for all researchers.
As psychology students, researchers should review the American Psychological Association’s (APA) ethics policy available at http://www.apa.org/ethics/code2002.html. The section most applicable to ethical research is number 8 entitled "Research and Publication."
In addition, your university or college may be a participating member of the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI). CITI Program is a subscription service providing research ethics education to all members of the research community. If your university or college is a CITI participating organization you can register for free online training in research ethics. The CITI website is: http://www.citiprogram.org/default.asp
Working with a faculty advisor, students should design studies with the protection of human participants in mind—carefully weighing the scientific value of the study against any potential risks to the participants. Although specific to their own procedures, Bucknell University has an excellent overview of human participant best practices at http://www.bucknell.edu/x5196.xml that includes a segment on emailed surveys. Submit required materials to your institution’s review board (or consulting faculty member) several weeks in advance of collecting data. Generally speaking, a good review will request a complete copy of any protocol being used, the informed consent procedures, and debriefing procedures.
Collect data only AFTER receiving approval. Many, if not most, student research projects will be exempt from further review; however, it is the institution that makes that determination, not the researcher.
Remember to submit any changes to the research project to faculty advisors and the committee and promptly tell advisors if anything unusual comes up during data collection. In addition, exercise care in the storage of data in secure locations (electronically or physically) and separate identifying information regarding participants from data collected.
Psi Chi encourages each of the above steps. In addition, for student researchers to receive a research award, they must attest that their projects were reviewed through the proper channels at their institutions. Ethical research protects participants and researchers and reflects good practices in psychological inquiry.