Research Ethics and Dual Standards

Nice Bunny

Nice Bunny

I have in the past been an unwilling subject of research, or so I very much believe. It is important for other researchers and scholars in general to reflect on this as an issue in the ethics of social research. In all of my experiences–and I believe there were at least six—I was targeted because I was department chair or DGS for an experiment about admissions to graduate school or acceptance of post-docs. In each case, it probably cost me a half hour of my time dealing with the administrative details—if someone says they intend to come to my humble university and all they need is acceptance, I still have to contact a deanlet, clear that I can get them some space, and a library card and shit.

What was really a bunny fuck was that some of the fake post-docs actually sounded kind of interesting. Gee, you do ethnic conflict in China? You have your own funds? All you need is approval? I’m on it!  When I got the third request to do a similar post-doc (and after the first two somehow never showed up in Carbondale….) I finally figured it out. I’m being played by bullshit social psychologists investigating “discrimination” or some shit….There were no Chinese post-docs seeking to study ethnic conflict while safely ensconced in Carbondale. Instead, some dipshit in Cambridge or Vancouver was sending me fake requests because I had been identified as a department head.

What really irks me is that my own students at my humble university actually have to get human subjects approval for analyzing public access data like the GSS. And, somewhere in a parallel universe researchers at some universities don’t even have to get permission to experiment on people like me–when it costs me real time and effort. I had an office ready for the first person…..



4 Responses to “Research Ethics and Dual Standards”

  1. jim green Says:

    I’ve always been puzzled by this as well – there seems to be no consistency as to when deception is permissible. The one field where all bets are off seems to be social psychology and look at the mess it is in…You would think the people who design these “experiments” would be familiar with the byzantine nature of academic politics and process and thus be skeptical of isolating discrimination from statistical noise from too many other variables…

  2. Philip N. Cohen Says:

    Just because you’re not consented doesn’t mean they didn’t have human subjects approval. Audit studies always involve deception and take up people’s time. Ethics requires considering the cost versus benefit, and minimizing the former relative to the latter.

    • sherkat Says:

      Is gender discrimination against fully funded Asian post-doctoral researchers trying to get office space at minor American universities a serious problem? Are there scores of female scholars unable to obtain visas because nobody will host them?

  3. Philip N. Cohen Says:

    I obviously know nothing about this research, if it actually was research. But I’m pretty sure the short answer to both of your questions is yes.

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