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Sample Argumentative Essay on Ethics in Human Research

materialWhen writing an argumentative essay on ethics in human research, it is important to come up with an argument for every claim that you make. Also, make sure that the information you’re using is reliable. Wikipedia is not a good choice in this case; books, government websites and case studies however, might seem like a viable alternative.

The research ethic governs behavioral standards for all scientific researchers. There are ethical principles one must adhere to in order to make sure that the rights, welfare, and dignity of the participants are protected. The human research must be thoroughly reviewed and assessed by an ethics committee to make sure that all appointed ethical standards are properly implemented. In the WHO Manual, there’s a crystal clear definition of ethics in human research: research that involves human subjects is considered a part of a social science, epidemiological, biomedical or behavioral activity that involves data analysis or data collection with the aim to generate new knowledge.

In applied ethics, there are three principal research branches: business, medical and environmental ethics. Medical ethics in particular, gets the most constant philosophical attention. However, not all issues in the field have received the exact same degree of scrutiny. Even though most of the attention is centered on ethical problems regarding medical care provisions, some ethical matters also cater to clinical research.

Since the United States has agreed to perform research using human subjects (in the 70s), most ethical matters concerning human research have been centered on queries regarding clinical research, including risk management, randomization, placebo use, subject recruitment, and research on helpless populations. Most controversial or infamous studies discussed over the years were the Tuskegee Syphilis study, Nazi experiments, and HIV research. Over the past 5 years, most ethical issues involving human research targeted the environmental health department, but also human research on the use of the Internet and social media.

Social media websites, or SMWs, offer opportunities for users to participate in the making and displaying of multi-media data. These sites have become an ideal ground for human research in all sorts of domains. SMWs offer some unique benefits to researchers: they provide innovative opportunities to inspect behaviors and beliefs expressed online (in a natural context), not to mention that social media sites permit researchers to contact subjects easier, thus conducting their studies in countries around the world that are difficult to reach in a conventional way.

Human research methods in the environmental health field are split into two categories: experimental and observational. Observational studies are usually focused on gathering information about the subjects in their conventional habitat, whereas experiments are meant to gather data on the subjects under monitored conditions. In observational research, some commonly used studies are case-control studies, field studies, cohort studies and cross-sectional studies.

Even though principles, codes and policies are useful and important, this doesn’t mean they necessarily fit in every scenario or situation. Some must be reinterpreted, so it is fundamental for researchers to learn to assess, evaluate, interpret the certain rules in order to be able to make an informed decision and act ethically regardless of the situation. Actions that are considered unethical by most researchers are often viewed as misconduct. However, it is fundamental to keep in mind that misconduct usually occurs when a researcher’s intent is to deceive. In general, errors that are honest, such as poor record keeping, sloppiness, self-deception, and miscalculations don’t classify as misconduct.


  • World Health Organization (WHO Manual). Ethical standards & procedures for human being research
  • Miller, F. The ethical challenges of human research. Oxford University Press. 2012. Ndpr.nd.edu
  • Tuskegee Syphilis Study. 1932. cdc.gov
  • Moreno M., Goniu, N., Moreno P., Diekema D.. Ethics of social media research: common concerns & practical considerations. 2013 Sep; 16(9): 708–713.
  • Jones, H. Social media’s affect on human interaction. 2013. hastac.org.
  • Song, J. Observational Studies: cohort and case control ctudies. 2010. 126(6): 2234–2242
  • Resnik, D. What is ethics in research & why is it important. 2015.nih.gov
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