Ethics is an integral part of any given piece of research because it ensures that participants are respected while the researcher remains original in the presentation of the research findings. Accordingly, ethical standards play an instrumental role in eliminating instances of plagiarism, participation under duress, mistakes and negligence, and general disrespect of participants in terms of their privacy and confidentiality. Therefore, researchers need to uphold ethical standards in all aspects of doctoral research beginning from the writing of literature review to conducting research and the writing of the dissertation manuscript. For instance, the dissertation project “The Effects of Physical Workplace Design Layout, Whether Be It a Commercial Property or at Home, Have on Project Oriented Companies and its Efficiency and Success” will be conducted in line with the set ethical standards by avoiding any traces of plagiarism through adequate appreciation of the work done by other researchers. Since it requires the workplace research, employees are involved and adequate consent will need to be obtained before they can participate. They will only take part in this research voluntarily even as their details are kept private and confidential. Working in tandem with these ethical standards is highly important in the discovery of new ideas for the specific field of research, as this one, which involves a practical workplace. Ethical standards will be highly observed and upheld in the whole process of this doctoral research by being more practical and original in their application to the field of research and final preparation of the dissertation manuscript.
Several researchers such as Roig have conducted extensive research into the ethics that needs to be integrated into research. Specifically, Roig (2009) investigated the ways in which ethical research can be conducted by avoiding plagiarism and other questionable practices in the course of writing, starting from the literature review to the dissertation manuscript. In this research, plagiarism is defined as the behavior of taking over the ideas, methods, and written words of others without proper acknowledgment of their work. Thus, Roig (2009) established that plagiarism could be effectively avoided by adequately acknowledging the source of ideas in the dissertation. It is done through referencing and effective quoting, which clearly demonstrates that they have been derived from another source. Copying directly the words of other researchers should also be avoided in the course of writing the dissertation to ensure that all forms of plagiarism are avoided.
American Psychological Association (2010) and Fouka and Mantzorou (2011) offered a strong framework of ethical principles to guide researchers in the course of conducting research. As much as they tend to focus on psychological research and nursing research respectively, these principles are still directly applicable to research in the workplace in terms of understanding the behavior and conduct of different individuals. In respect to informed consent, American Psychological Association (2010) and Fouka and Mantzorou (2011) reveal that researcher must be able to obtain the permission of the participant, using the most understandable language possible. The consent must be documented to ensure that there are no issues of the parties’ involvement in the research. They also explain that researchers have the obligation of taking reasonable precautions to secure the integrity of the participants. This means assuring individuals that their information will be kept in private and avoiding any leakage to parties that are not part of the research. Thus, there should be no invasion into private information through the sharing of the attitudes, beliefs, opinions, and records of participants with other people. In support of these ethical principles, Resnik (2013) explained that it is vital for researchers to ensure that they have adequate resources that are objective, keep confidentiality, and engage in responsible publication of information related to the participants in the study. Without these elements, the research will be deemed unethical and disrespectful to both the profession and the participants. Hence, it does not get the academic approval that is required.
In his research, Osei (2013) focused on different aspects of the dissertation process including risk assessment, plagiarism, informed consent, mistakes and negligence, data handling and reporting, privacy and confidentiality, requirements for IRB approval, and working with a mentor. One of the most outstanding explanations in the article is that researchers must be able to evaluate all the activities that are likely to affect the research participants, hence limiting the quality of their research. The lack of risk assessment is likely to affect the reputation and efficiency of the researcher in the course of coming up with conclusions in the research. Moreover, the requirements for IRB approval are well explained in the article with Osei (2013), stating that a research process is only approved in cases where it is ascertained that subjects will not be exposed to any risk, informed consent has been obtained, there is fairness in the selection of participants, the safety of participants is guaranteed, and their privacy is fully respected. The IRB is in place to ensure that the research is professional and aligns itself with the established guidelines and procedures. On the aspect of working with a mentor, Osei (2013) pointed out that mentors play an essential role of facilitating the whole research process and ensuring that all parts of the research are up to the desirable academic standards. While working with the mentor, it is vital to be collaborative to gain the required support, expertise, and encouragement from the mentor to move forward with the dissertation.
Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy; Institute of Medicine, Policy and Global Affairs; National Academy of Sciences; National Academy of Engineering (2009) and Udo-Akang (2013) offered in depth details into the ethical research process. For instance, on the aspect of data handling and reporting, both authors pointed out that the collection of data is an instrumental part of any research process. However, while handling and reporting data, researchers must avoid instances where they unnecessarily manipulate data to meet their requirements in the research. The manipulation and misrepresentation of data are unethical practices that should be avoided in the research process. Moreover, both Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy; Institute of Medicine, Policy and Global Affairs; National Academy of Sciences; National Academy of Engineering (2009) and Udo-Akang (2013) agreed that all research is susceptible to error. Despite the presence of unpreventable errors, researchers are obliged to exercise professionalism in their respective fields and avoid ordinary mistakes and negligence that expose participants to risks. For that reason, carelessness and haste should be eliminated in the research process to overcome negligence and any mistakes.
In the research process of the dissertation project “The Effects of the Physical Workplace Design Layout, Whether be it at a Commercial Property or at Home, Have on Project Oriented Companies and its Efficiency and Success”, ethical integrity will have to be effectively observed to ensure that it meets the required academic standards. This would be done throughout the process of preparing the project until completion. Therefore, the first practical step that would be undertaken to promote the ethical integrity of the dissertation project on this topic will be the collection of different sources to be used in the research process. This will be primarily vital in the course of writing the literature review of the dissertation project. According to Roig (2009), plagiarism can only be avoided in instances where the researcher acknowledges the source of ideas and information in the dissertation. Thus, the collection of a wide variety of sources will be a key step to ensuring that they are acknowledged in the presentation of the literature review and the ultimate dissertation manuscript. For instance, while writing the dissertation manuscript, there will be adequate referencing of all used sources, providing all the details such as the name of the author, the year of publication, and the page number where applicable. This step will be crucial in helping the project assessor to distinguish between personal ideas and those derived from academic sources. Udo-Akang (2013) stated that the avoidance of plagiarism will be backed up by a declaration statement on the dissertation project. It states that the work is original and all the works of other authors have been highly acknowledged through proper referencing both in the text and at the end of the document in the bibliography section. Additionally, the step toward avoiding plagiarism in this paper would be done by not copying the work of other students who possibly undertake a similar research in the workplace design layout.
It is also clear that any form of research is prone to diverse risks. In ensuring the ethical integrity of this dissertation project, adequate risk assessment would have to be effectively undertaken. It is worth noting that an in depth risk assessment would be undertaken for both the researcher and the potential participants of the study. Osei (2013) opined that the consequences of the risks are always severe and might lead to long-lasting damages. In light of this, the practical step that would be taken in the course of risk assessment is visiting some of the companies that would be studied in the dissertation. This familiarization process is always overlooked by researchers at some point, hence exposing them to risks that could be controlled. Thus, taking a physical tour to the site where the research is to be conducted will reveal all the potential risks that might be faced, thus setting a proper ground for their mitigation. For instance, visiting the place will set the ground for understanding the conditions that both the researcher and the participants will work under. The risk of any possible legal disputes as a result of conducting this research will also be assessed by gaining information from the mentor on the acceptability of the project and its ethical standards.
The completion of risk assessment will set the ground for reaching out to the target group in the organization to ensure that they are aware of the research and their contribution into it. The step that would be undertaken in the course of acquiring informed consent from participants is educating them about the project. In tandem with the ethical provisions discussed by Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy; Institute of Medicine, Policy and Global Affairs; National Academy of Sciences; National Academy of Engineering (2009), the education stage would be possibly done through conducting an organized workshop with the potential participants in the target organizations. This first stage of the obtaining consent will be instrumental in ensuring that the participants know what they are supposed to do before they can accept or reject their participation. American Psychological Association (2010) indicated that after in depth education and analysis of the different aspects of the project, participants would be issued with a consent form that would also be read to them and explained to ensure they do it voluntarily by affixing their signatures that they would feel free to participate. With the education about the project and the voluntary signing of the consent forms, informed consent would be obtained for this project and it will be free to progress. This is an initial step in promoting the ethical integrity of this dissertation project.
There will also be paid much attention on the privacy and confidentiality of the participants in the project. The vital step that will be undertaken to ensure privacy and confidentiality is the statement of anonymity. Both questionnaires and interviews that would be used in the collection of data is designed in such a way that they secure the identity of the participant. For instance, Resnik (2013) asserted that the questionnaires will specifically provide guidelines that no participant should fill in personal information and details. In the case of interviews, privacy will be assured by obscuring the image and modifying their voices in cases where video recording is used. There will be such measures as the use of sophisticated passwords on laptops to ensure the security of all the collected documents and guarantee that information is not leaked out to other people. This will also be communicated to the participants to get their full confidence as they come into the research process.
Cases of mistakes and negligence will be widely present in the dissertation research process. However, they could be mitigated in the required manner. Osei (2013) pointed out that some of the mistakes that could emerge in the research process include the ineffective handling of open-ended interviews that leads to intrusiveness into personal details of the participants. Moreover, negligence can occur because of the mishandling of participants, hence exposing them to loss. In line with the assertions of Fouka and Mantzorou (2011), the step that will be undertaken to boost the ethical integrity of this dissertation project in respect to mistakes and negligence is sticking to the script of the research without trying to be intrusive, especially in the course of open-ended interviews. Instances such as abusing participants and handling them rudely would be highly avoided in this research process, thus ensuring every detail is collected and utilized in the most respectable manner. Collaborating with participants and knowing their mood would be a key step to avoid mistakes and negligence.
In regard to the aspect of data handling and reporting, the step that would be undertaken to facilitate the integrity of this project is adhering to the collected data without any alterations (Fouka & Mantzorou, 2011). It is clear that the participants’ data will be obtained through questionnaires and interviews, and this is what will be maintained in the course of writing the dissertation. For example, if they offer negative views on the workplace design, this will be presented without being altered to show that the workplace is a better place. The data will be stored in one place to ensure that it is not lost to give an accurate view of what was studied. The reporting process will also be done using the original data by avoiding modifications that can lead to misrepresentation.
At the initial stages of the dissertation project, the other fundamental step that will be undertaken is the presentation of this project to the Northcentral University Institutional Review Board (IRB) for approval. According to Osei (2013), it is not advisable to move on with the dissertation project without gaining full approval from the university’s IRB. Therefore, the Northcentral University requirements for IRB approval including the safety of participants, informed consent, and privacy and confidentiality will be followed in this project through the presentation of real documents, especially the consent form, and even exhibiting the measures that are undertaken to protect all participants so far. For example, an illustration of how the images of participants will be obscured in the course of the interview will be presented to gain approval for this project.
The completion of each of these stages of the dissertation project will be done by working hand in hand with a mentor who can offer guidelines and directions on what needs to be done. Udo-Akang (2013) explained that working with a mentor will take different steps such as consultation on issues that would not be understood in the research process. Plagiarism matters and how to avoid it would also be understood through consultation and collaboration with the mentor on every part of the dissertation.
Firstly, it is recommended to follow the Northcentral University requirements for IRB approval in order to enhance the ethical integrity of all types of research getting from students in the institutions. One of the benefits of these requirements is that it is easier for researchers to achieve integrity because of the understanding that they are being monitored and are liable for breach of these requirements. Consequently, the requirements should be updated on a frequent basis to make it easier for participants to be more respected in the research process.
Secondly, it is recommended that researchers work closely with their mentors to boost the academic and ethical integrity of their own dissertation projects. The relationship between the researcher and the mentor should not just be professional but personal in the sense that they should not be scared of consulting on fundamental issues. Mentors should always be available to students to ensure that they are assisted and supported anywhere they get stuck. This will lead to the success of dissertation project and will result in ethical integrity.
Thirdly, it is recommended to ensure participants that their privacy and confidentiality will not be violated by illustrating how they would be secured instead of just telling them by word of mouth that their information would be kept confidential. It has become common for researchers to just say that privacy will be guaranteed. It should be taken to another level where they do some preliminary demonstration. In the case of this project, this would be illustrated to participants to gain their full confidence and active participation.
Ethical scientific researchers have a full commitment to all individuals touched by their research. The scope of individuals touched by their research is large ranging from participants to mentors and advisors, reviewers, future readers, supporters, and cheerleaders on the journey. My opinion is that researchers must be fully committed and respect each of these parties because without them they would not succeed in their projects. For instance, the best way to show commitment to participants is to respect their privacy at all times and ensure that everything they do is on a voluntary basis and not under any form of duress. In case of mentors and advisors, ethical scientific researchers must adhere to all the pieces of advice offered and do their work well by following all the guidelines. This is also related to reviewers, researchers should not dismiss them, but should do according to what they say. I also believe that they should take care and appreciate all their supporters and cheerleaders along the way because they are the individuals who give them the motivation to move forward with their dissertation projects appropriately.