Sociologist Rik Scarce went to jail because he refused to identify someone who was thought to be his research participant and had engaged in criminal activity. In Scarce’s view, to identify his research participants would have violated the confidentiality that he had promised them. Please read the article about Rik Scarce (linked below), as well as the Week 2 learning resources. This discussion question has two parts:
Part 1. Do you think that Rik Scarce should have gone to jail for protecting the identity of his research participant? Why or why not? Are there any particular situations you can think of in which a researcher should name their participants and in which they should not name their participants? Based on what you learned in this week’s learning resources, what do you think the most ethical approach would be to resolving situations when researchers are asked to identify their research participants?
Part 2. Reviewing the various types of research in the Week 2 learning resources, which research method do you think would be most vulnerable to ethical problems? Which research method do you think would be least vulnerable to ethical problems?