Ethical Considerations

This lesson we had to learn about ethical considerations and consider them for our research proposal topics. There are a number of templates NMIT provides which need to be handed in along with your proposal depending on what type of research you will be doing:

  • Research ethics application
  • Consent for interviews-focus groups
  • Survey template

Ethical considerations need to be made to protect the researcher and their org i.e. NMIT. Some of the considerations include:

  • Disclosure agreements
  • Informed consent – are the participants ‘vulnerable participants’ i.e. children? in this case there are extra hurdles to getting ethical consent
  • Voluntary participation – can people quit the study at any time and will the research still be able to go ahead if this happens?
  • Consideration of research implications i.e health and well being of participants
  • Privacy considerations/agreements

There are a lot of scenarios where you would need to make considerations/get extra approval, but my research topic doesn’t require many ethical considerations. I will still be filling out the forms to because they need to be approved.


Potential research topic – Negative effects of computer gaming on adolescent students learning

This research topic popped up as an idea for my research proposal because i have an interest in the topic. I’m not looking at it for a research report but rather just for the research proposal, i think there’d be too many ethical considerations to bother looking in this area.

One of the problems i’ve found with the research in this area is that many of the papers/presenters differ in their idea of what video-games are. For example, the Ted talks presenter seems to speak generally about video games and their benefits then shows evidence of purely educational ones being good for the brain.

Another study links higher usage of gaming consoles to lower GCSE grades but one of the survey questions was based around the number of times per day the student had used the device rather than amount of hours per day.

There seems to be a number of ways the studies measure the effect on adolescent learning but i’ve found from reading the papers that correlation of video game usage with grades seems to be the most consistent measure which is easiest to survey. Most of the research shows that students who spent more time on non-educational video games received lower grades.

There is definitely room for primary research here as long as the type of gaming is clearly defined i.e. Educational video games, Violent video games. The kinds of primary research i could see being useful for this would require ethical consent because participants would most likely be classed as ‘vulnerable participants’ due to age.


Informed consent processes may need to take account of vulnerable participants.  Those considered to be vulnerable include children, prisoners, and people with a mental illness, altered state of consciousness or intellectual disability.  Where the vulnerable participant is not competent to give consent, proxy consent must be sought from a person legally representing the person’s interests.  In the case of children, consent must come from both the child’s legal guardian and the child where appropriate.  The vulnerable person’s decision not to participate has priority over any other valid proxy consent.


Links examined relating to the topic: