Ethical problems arise from the relationships because they occur when a person interact with the other person. Ethical conflicts arise when a person considers that his/her responsibilities and duties for one group are not consistent with the responsibilities and duties for the other group (Hunt, Chonko, & Wilcox, 1984). A researcher faces several ethical dilemmas in survey research such the potential survey respondents may decline to take part, people being dishonest while responding, confidentiality, the privacy issues and anonymity. So, the research designs need special attention in order to ensure that the participation is voluntary in the true sense.
The potential and primary ethical problem in the survey research is of confidentiality (Grinnell & Unrau, 2011, pp. 364) . Most surveys consist of questions that are essential and this may prove harmful to the subject in case the answers were no properly mentioned. Considering an example that if a survey is conducted about teachers and it is asked, “Do you think that the principal of the school/college is doing satisfactory job and performing his/her duties properly?”, or while evaluating any course if asked, “On the scale of 1-5, rate the teaching style of your teacher”, then in these cases the respondent may hesitate.
Moreover, if the principal or teacher saw their evaluation then they may be hurt. In order to prevent disclosure of such type of information, it is important to preserve the confidentiality of the subject. For this purpose just only the research personnel have access to the information that can be used to connect the respondent to their replies or responses and that access should be restricted to what is essential for particular purpose of the research. The researcher should use numbers for identifying the respondents on questionnaire. However, the names, which correspond to the numbers, should be kept private and confidential so that it is unavailable to the staff and other people that can come across the data.
For the purpose of follow up, sending e-mails and other attempts, which require making a link among the identification numbers, addresses and names should be done by researcher or reliable assistant under proper supervision. In the case of electronic survey, the use of encryption technology should be ensured in order to protect the information from unauthorized person. The principals and supervisors should not be allowed to collect the survey questionnaire and the teachers should not be allowed to pick up the course evaluation forms. The researcher should be aware of concerns of his/her respondent and should be a little more vigilant than need to be.
Hunt, Shelby D., Chonko, Lawrence B., & Wilcox, James B. (1984). Ethical Problems of Marketing Researchers. Journal of Marketing Research, 21(3), pp. 309-324.
Grinnell, Richard M., & Unrau, Yvonne A. (2010). Social Work Research and Evaluation: Foundations of Evidence Based Practice. Oxford University Press, Inc., Publishers, New York.