Research Ethics and Research Process Components:

Question description

Please read the lecture and respond to the discussion questions in APA format with reference

Research Ethics and Research Process Components: Problem, Question and Literature Review


Nursing research is important because it generates and refines knowledge, but at the same time must be ethical in its development and implementation. Much of the research done in nursing requires human subjects, so the protection of human subjects’ rights must be maintained. In the past 40 years, the ethical implications of using human subjects have been examined with increasing frequency, primarily because of the medical experiments performed by the Nazis during World War II. These experiments influenced the formation of ethical codes and regulations that the nurse researcher must follow. As a result, it is important that nurse researchers know how to conduct ethical research. (Burns & Grove, 2001).


Ethics simply means learning what is right and wrong, then doing what is right. It may sound simple, but it is not always straightforward. Core ethical values include such things as respect, honesty, fairness, responsibility, care, and citizenship. These same values apply to the field of research. Cooper and Schindler (2003) state that ethics are standards or norms, which guide moral behavior.

Chapter 4 in the textbook (Burns & Grove, 2001) clearly describes the importance of ethics in research. Research in nursing always includes human subjects, and therefore it is critical that a nurse understands how the rights of the research participants are protected. Certain vulnerable populations, such as infants, children, and the elderly are at risk for potential harm due to research interventions.

Ethical Dilemmas

There are often situations in which nurses are placed in a position that may create an ethical dilemma. Such dilemmas arise when the researcher is conducting a study to advance knowledge, but through the process may produce physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual discomfort. All people have certain rights when participating in research. They are:

·The right to protection from harm and discomfort

·The right to protection from exploitation

·The right to self-determination

·The right to full disclosure

·The right to fair treatment

·The right to privacy

Informed consent is critical to safeguard a person’s right. A written consent form should always include the purpose of the study, specific expectations for the participant, how much time will be involved, voluntary participation, and any potential risks associated with participation.

Research Purpose

The research purpose is the statement of why the study is being undertaken. The purpose statement may be explicit or implicit but should be stated objectively. The research purpose is more specific than the research problem and is generated by way of deductive reasoning. The research purpose communicates the aim or goal of the study. In addition, the major variables to be studied, along with the population and setting, are identified in the research purpose (Cooper & Schindler, 2003).

As the research purpose becomes clearer, the researcher must determine the feasibility of the study by examining the commitment required in time and money, as well as expertise required, subject availability, and any ethical considerations. An example of a clinical research purpose that might be deemed feasible is to determine if a relationship exists between the extent of participation in selected behaviors that may be detrimental to health and the propensity to take risks.

Review of Literature

The purpose for the review of literature is to gain a broad understanding of the available information related to the research problem. Relevant literature is examined, and provides credibility to the study being pursued. There are three steps to the review of literature process: locating relevant sources, critiquing the sources, and generating the written report of the resulting knowledge. Literature can be located through electronic literature searches of electronic databases, such as CINAHL, MEDLINE, Science Direct, and HealthSTAR, and print resources such as those found in libraries.

The literature review section should be written in an organized manner, beginning with the introduction, leading to the presentation of empirical and theoretical sources, and ending with the summary of relevant ideas. The information gained through the review of literature is logically organized and presented in the review-of-literature section of the report (Cooper & Schindler, 2003).

Research Question

Once the problem has been identified, the literature review completed, and the conceptual framework chosen, the research question needs to be formulated. The question may either be in the form of a statement, a question, or a hypothesis. The research question must be succinct, clear, and it must answer the question being studied.

Formulating the research question may be one of the most difficult steps of the research process. Usually, the initial dilemma is very broad, and must be narrowed to be reasonably studied. A research question should be based on facts, which will lead to the formulation of investigative questions. The question should be theoretical, practical, and feasible (Cooper & Schindler, 2003).


The hypothesis is a prediction of the researcher’s expected findings of the research study. The hypothesis includes the variables to be studied and their relationships, the population to be studied, and the type of research to be conducted. The hypothesis also directs the measurement of variables, the selection of the design, and the interpretation of the findings. The findings of the study either indicate acceptance or non-acceptance of the hypothesis (Cooper & Schindler, 2003).

Qualitative Research

As with quantitative research, the goals of qualitative research are to describe, explain, predict, and control. These goals are not established by causality but seek to gain insight by discovering the meaning associated with a given experience. These insights can be used to improve nursing care. Although many researchers are doing qualitative studies, they have the following disadvantages (Polit & Beck, 2010, p. 77-80):

·They are labor intensive.

·Data collected over a long period of time may create data overload.

·There is a potential for researcher bias.

·There is generally a small sampling.

·It is harder to generalize findings.

·Quality and credibility of conclusions can come into question.

·There can be issues with reliability and validity.

Research Question and Problem

Similar to a quantitative study, a qualitative study must establish a dilemma or research problem. A qualitative study has no hypotheses, and the research question is usually very broad. Questions will evolve as the study progresses. Therefore, the researcher looks for data to form impressions; this type of research is not measurable (Polit & Beck, 2010, p. 77).


The subjects in a qualitative study are called participants. A qualitative research method generally does not require a certain number of participants or a random sampling. They are not chosen randomly as in a quantitative study. Participants are selected by the researcher because they meet the criteria necessary for the information needed. The sampling is usually small, with 6-12 participants being a typical sample size for the study. The researcher will stop the collection of data, not with respect to the number of participants, but because the researcher has stopped learning new information. They have gained the necessary information for the study.

Data Collection Methods

Qualitative research requires a simple data collection method because the complexity of the research is in the data itself. If the researcher is too complex in his or her method, the reaction between the complex data and the complex method could be disastrous. Common data collection methods include observation, interviewing, and examining historical documents or written texts. A qualitative inquiry or interview should include understandable, and rather simple, questions.

Qualitative research should start with asking simple questions that evolve into complex answers. Using qualitative interviews allows the researcher to gather detailed, rich information. When doing interviews, it is necessary to reach the saturation level, which means the information is repeated. Robson (2002) offers some helpful advice when doing an interview for a qualitative study. The interviewer should encourage the participants to talk freely. This can be encouraged in the following ways:

Interviewer must listen more often than they speak, and should not interject their personal opinions.

Questions should be delivered in a clear, concise, and nonthreatening way. Interviewers must not put participants on the defensive nor try to confuse them.

The researcher should not lead the participant in answering the questions a certain way, or in a way the researcher wants the questions answered.


Burns, N., & Grove, S. (2001). The practice of nursing research: Conduct, critique, and Utilization (4th ed.). Philadelphia: W. B. Saunders.

Cooper, D. R., & Schindler, P. S. (2003). Business research methods (8th ed.). Boston: McGraw-Hill Irwin.

Polit, D. F., & Beck, C. T. (2010). Essentials of nursing research: Methods, appraisal, and utilization (7th ed.). Philadelphia: Lippincott.

Robson, C. (2002). Real world research: A resource for social scientists and practitioner-researchers (2nd ed.). Oxford, United Kingdom: Blackwell Publishing.

Discussion 1

Qualitative data has been described as voluminous and sometimes overwhelming to the researcher. In what ways could a researcher manage and organize the data?

Discussion 2

The three types of qualitative research are phenomenological, grounded theory, and ethnographic research. What are the differences and similarities between two of the three types of studies?

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