Encyclopedia Entry

Survey Ethics

Lisa M. Gilman

Survey ethics encompasses a set of ethical procedures that are intended to guide all survey researchers. These procedures are essential to the research process so that explicit care is taken that (a) no harm is done to any survey respondent, and (b) no survey respondent is unduly pressured or made to feel obligated to participate in a survey. This entry discusses informed consent, the rights of respondents, and the social responsibility of researchers. The ethics of survey research and its importance often are not covered thoroughly in research methods textbooks and courses. However, the acquisition of knowledge through survey research requires public trust and, therefore, researchers must adhere to ethical practices and principles involving human subjects. Most governmental bodies throughout the industrialized world have established ethical guidelines for conducting survey research. Research proposals often are subject to regulatory review by one or more ethics boards (e.g. an institutional review board) ...

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