“Splendor! Immensity! Eternity! Grand word! Great thing! A little definite happiness would be more to the purpose.”
To my father, whose life, like a perfume from beyond the Gates, penetrates every life which approaches it, the readers of this little book will owe whatever pleasant thing they may find within its pages.
Frontispiece, Aunt Winifred, Mary and Faith (The Gates Ajar, Illustrated Edition, Boston: Fields, Osgood & Co., 1870).
ONE WEEK; only one week to-day, this twenty-first of February.
I had been sitting here in the dark and thinking about it, till it seems so horribly long and so horribly short; it has been such a week to live through, and it is such a small part of the weeks that must be lived through, that I could think no longer, but lighted my lamp and opened my desk to find something to do.
I was tossing my paper about,— only my own: the packages in the yellow envelopes I have not been quite brave enough to open yet,— when I came across this poor little book in which I used to keep memoranda of the weather, and my lovers, when I was a school- girl. I turned the leaves, smiling to see how many blank pages were left, and took up my pen, and now I am not smiling any more.
If it had not come exactly as it did, it seems to me as if I could bear it better. They tell me that it should not have been such a shock. “Your brother had been in the army so long that you should have been prepared for anything. Everybody knows by what a hair a soldier's life is always hanging,” and a great deal more that I am afraid I have not listened to. I suppose it is all true; but that never makes it any easier.
The house feels like a prison. I walk up and down and wonder that I ever called it home. Something is the matter with the sunsets; they come and go, and I do not notice them. Something ails the voices of the children, snowballing down the street;…
‘I'm only doing a local project.’
‘What kinds of ethics are there?’
‘Ethics only apply to health projects, right?’
Ethical practice in research is about doing what is possible, while protecting the stakeholders involved in the process (see Chapter 13). Accepted practice prevents researchers from engaging in data collection before receiving ethical approval but the process by which this approval is obtained will vary, depending on your local circumstances. Your own organization may invest responsibility for ethics review in a specific individual, such as a senior or research and development manager, while universities and research centres have formal ethics panels. Some organizations may operate a system of ‘gatekeepers’, with formal ethics boards only handling ‘highrisk’ applications and referrals from ‘lower’ gatekeepers such as departmental ethics committees or individual delegates, e.g. research students’ supervisors.
Even if your proposal doesn't need to go through a local ethical approval process, it is important that it reaches a comparable standard. There must be a clear idea of research purpose (see Chapters 3 and 4), a body of relevant research to draw from (what we know already – see Chapter 6), specified research methods to be used (see Chapters 7 and 8), appropriate research processes and techniques, and a sound prediction of the foreseeable risks and benefits.
Throughout this chapter, we will call attention to the many and various ethical challenges that may face you as a researcher.
Why are ethics important?
Actual physical and psychological harms to research participants have been well documented over the years, and are of course to be avoided, but less horrific instances of unethical research are often overlooked. Ethical misconduct can take many forms, ranging from plagiarism, fabrication or falsification of data, misrepresentation of findings, to collaborator disputes and errors of judgment.
Ethics are about what is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ in a given condition, and they are about behaviours and conduct. Robust ethical research practices make for sound, valid and reliable research. Your disciplinary or professional peers must trust your research and, as a researcher, you are responsible for the ethics of your actions and decisions.
Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this to your organisation's collection.