Ethical code is vital to any survey. Researchers today are obliged to follow the different ethical codes designed and guided by different institutions like government agencies, research agencies and marketing associations pertinent to the different countries, societies and communities. This is the first thing researchers should take into consideration while developing or designing research materials. There are ethical code enforcement bodies in almost all layers of our community from local institutions to the federal level, which has the power to control all the research related activities and their impact in the community. Research is highly affected and influenced by ethical codes.
One of the major aims of the MRA (Marketing Research Association) ethical code is that while conducting research; researchers should not act in such a way that it violates the general public laws which will discredit people’s confidence against the entire research profession. The research code of ethics is there to establish guidelines and principles to maneuver researchers to achieve the goals and objectives in a socially acceptable manner. Therefore, Marketing Research Association code of ethics guides researchers in almost all layers of their work from their research design phase of the research to the communication of findings of the research to the concerned parties.
Some of the principle elements of the MRA ethical codes include: 1. People or the community should be involved as major participants in the all facets of the research. 2. Researchers should get written permission from the people in the community which will be involved in the research project. 3. All the resources (information collected from the community) are direct assets of that community and therefore researchers should communicate the findings of research to the community and those data should be returned to the community. 4. While publishing the research findings, the community or the people associated with the research should be involved in decision making process. 5. And finally, researchers should make sure that the partners of the research (community) have agreed to make information available to the publication.
Above mentioned principles are the major pillars of the MRA ethical code of research. It provides the power to the community and provides the decision making ability to those who are the members or a part of the community. MRA ethical code of research has become a key guiding principle of any research activity. How researchers design their research depends upon MRA’s ethical codes of research, review, and regulation.
Respect of the individual person’s or participant’s privacy is the key focus of the research code. It is the degree of control which research participants have over the researchers about their own information and how researchers deal with that information about participants. This code of ethics provides exclusive rights to the research participants about whether to participate in the research or not. In the next level, research code of ethics prioritized the maximization of the benefits of the research to the concerned partner, community or society. A survey result or the research does not always provide advantages or the benefits the community.
Therefore, another ethical code of the researchers is to maximize the possible benefits of the research and minimize the harm of research or research findings to its participants or community. Researchers should always have a sense of justice towards its research. Researchers can never include all the members or elements of its target population, therefore while selecting the sample they should be non-discriminatory. By doing so, researchers not only do justice to the participants or the community but also maximize the chances of integrity of the research findings.
Another important issue of the research ethical code is the confidentiality of the information provided by the research participants. Researchers are liable to provide highest level confidentiality of the data towards the participants. MRA research code of ethics makes sure that researchers provides complete confidentiality to its research participants unless the respondent or the participants of the research themselves waives their confidentiality.
Besides these basic ethical codes of data collection, researchers should not falsify or omit collected data for any reason during the data collection process. And before collecting the data researchers should specify the methods of data collection, time and date of data collection, sampling frame and method and sampling size and these predetermined methodologies are not subject to change without the permission of the research participants. Data collectors should not reveal the information about the client or sponsor to the participants during the data collection phase without proper authorization. If the respondent wants to know about the sponsor or the clients then the data collectors can only reveal the information only to respondent with the authorization to do so by the clients or sponsor.
The data collectors are liable to protect the confidentiality regarding the business of the client without the express written consent of the client and without the necessary ground to do so. If the data collectors are conducting the secondary data collection then revealing the source of the data to their client is their prime responsibility and they should not present secondary data as primary data to their clients or sponsor. If a respondent wants to withdraw or refused to participate in the middle of the data collection process then the data collectors or the researchers have no right to coerce them or make the cooperation obligatory by threatening them with anything.
Researchers or the data collectors should always respect and protect the right to participate and right not to participate in the research by the respondent at any time from beginning to the end of data collection. The result of the study or the collected data is the property of the clients or the sponsor therefore, researchers or the data collectors should not at any cost share the findings of the collected data to the third party without the pre-consent of the clients or sponsor. Researchers are liable to follow the standard ethical code of data collections coordinated and enforced by the agencies like Marketing Research Association and federal agencies.
Marketing Research Association (2012). Retrieved on October 5, 2014 from www.mra-net.org Malhotra, N. K. (2010). Marketing Research an Applied Orientation (Sixth ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.