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Research Methods in Sport
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Aims, Objectives, and Research Question.
Aim of the Research: The research aims at identifying the ethical issues associated with the research in Sport.
Objectives of the Research.
- To understand the importance of ethical process in research to enhance the reliability of research.
- To determine ethical issues that arise in sports research.
- To provide solutions that can help to overcome the ethical issues in the research in sport.
Q1. What are the common ethical issues that arise in sports research?
Q2. What are the common challenges in the ethical process in research?
Q3. How do the ethical issues impact the reliability of sports research?
In the research conducted by Ron (2020), various ethical issues related to the research proposal in sport and exercise science are highlighted. The first issue identified is the reason behind the study is not clear, the majority of researchers select the topic as per their interest and not something that could enhance the findings of previous researches. The researcher should first explain the reason behind the selection of the topic. Another issue with the research in sport is the failure or minimal understanding of professional body guidelines for the practice in a related field of research, sports. Skills training is required to enhance the reliability of research conducted in the field. One of the other basic ethical issues identified is data protection, the data collected through primary sources such as interviews and observation must not reflect the identities of participants. The researcher has used a secondary method for the analysis that is through the analysis of researches conducted in various segments.
The study conducted by Stewart and Reider (2016), explains the components of codes of ethics in research in sports. The ethical codes of research are based on psychological principles such as non-maleficence which mean do not harm anyone in the process of research, beneficence which means that the research must be beneficial for the community, autonomy must be promoted, the participants in the research must be treated fairly and equitably. One of the important ethical issues identified in the research is confidentiality which is a major concern as the data collection for research purposes can be utilized for personal benefits which must be prohibited. It is more important in sports exercise research as athletes are easily identifiable due to the popularity. Another ethical issue highlighted in the research is related to intellectual, emotional, and experiential competency. Research must be competent in these aspects related to the study.
According to Dzikus et.al (2012), a model of ethical decision-making must be used in every research conducted in the sports and exercise field. The research has discussed various important elements of ethical decision-making in research based on the secondary research conducted. The secondary data was collected from various researches conducted on sports and exercise fields and an analysis provided the model for ethical decision-making. The elements in successful ethical decision-making include the identification of all relevant ethical values, practices, and issues with the research topic. The people that would be affected by the research must be understood, consulting with professionals is of prime importance which is often neglected in small-scale sports research. The decision-making process and all the decisions undertaken during the research must be documented for further studies.
In the research conducted by Harriss and Atkinson (2013), the role of ethics codes has been discussed that explains the importance of the code of ethics in the research. The ethical code describes the right practices to be undertaken in research, a professional consultation network is developed and promoted when the researchers follow the ethical code for the research. The decision-making process in research becomes easy when the researcher is aware of the principles behind the code of ethics. The consequences of every action taken in the research can be easily predicted with the help of ethical codes and principles.
The lack of scientific research on the analysis of professional athletes’ ethics has been addressed in the research conducted by Kardisauskas (2015), the research targeted to understand the athlete’s point of view related to the ethical considerations in the research conducted in the sports segment and compare it with other sports community. Qualitative research was conducted with the response collected from professional athletes. It has been concluded that lower ethical evaluation is present in the studies conducted in sports research which also impacts the sports communities, it is also stated in the research that modern sports research can change the ethical values that can result in more reliable researches.
The study conducted by West et.al (2010), was aimed at understanding the research ethics process and the decision-making in the sports and exercise segment in the exercise science department and universities in the United Kingdom. The research explored and discussed the ethical scrutiny process and protocols used in sports research. Qualitative research was conducted to analyze the results and the importance of an ethical code of conduct in the research process. The participants were researchers who were asked to provide research proposals in the sports and exercise segment. After the analysis of research proposals, it was identified that basic ethical issues were addressed by all the participants such as data protection, confidentiality, informed consent, and detailed methodology. However, it was concluded that ethical research training is required as many participants were unaware about the ethical decision making and confidence fluctuation was observed in non-specialist areas of the researchers.
The ethical considerations in research involving humans, animals in any segment are discussed in the research conducted by, the research states that the research in sports and exercise segment involving human participants must only include the participants who are capable of providing mental and physical consent. The participants must also be aware of the aim of the research, conflict of interest (if any), potential discomfort, right of refusing, etc. retrospective ethics is an important concept discussed in the research which explains the use of primary data used in primary and secondary research. When the purpose is not defined in primary research, with the ethical release of participants, the data collected can be used for secondary research (Harriss and Atkinson, 2015). The use of placebo is also seen in many types of research where the participants are randomly selected and compared with the research where participants are selected based on the research topic.
According to the research conducted by Smith and Mcgannon (2018), the impact of ethical code of conduct on moral integrity is research in health, exercise, and sports sciences. The ethical concerns highlighted in the study are informed consent of the participants, ethics of qualitative or quantitative research, plagiarism, fraud, etc. It has been highlighted that various new ethical codes of conduct are developed which are unknown by the researchers. To combat this issue, it must be necessary for the researcher to be updated about the recent additions in the ethical code of conduct. Another issue with the research in sports is the biases of the researcher about the research topic. Professional practice must be adopted by the researcher to remove any biases in the research.
The sports research is also conducted on sensitive topics such as unethical practices in sports which include gambling, the use of performance-enhancing drugs, etc. the discussion of such topics can also lead to decreased morale of sportsmen. Therefore, the language of such research topics must be neutral so that the reader can make a neutral conclusion instead of getting affected by biased researches. It is the responsibility of the researcher to conduct the research ethically by understanding the impact of research on various communities (Gelinas et.al, 2017).
Research work involves various stages in the research process, Saunders Research Onion model explains various stages of research as the layers of an onion where each layer when unfolded provided specific detail about the research process. To determine the inner layer, the outer layer must be decided first according to the aim of the research. The stages explained in the research onion model are discussed below.
The reality which is been investigated in the research determines the philosophy of the research. There are two main research philosophies as explained in the research onion model, Ontology and Epistemology, Ontology is described as the “study of reality”, this research philosophy is used when the difference between reality and the way reality is perceived, is to be determined. The philosophical positions within ontology include objectivism, constructivism, and pragmatism. In objectivism, the understanding of a social event is determined along with the impact on people associated with it. The constructivism approach believes that people construct a social event whereas pragmatism is associated with finding solutions to a given issue (Goertz and Mahoney, 2012).
Epistemology is related to the scientific research used to find information that can be proven with scientific findings in the research. Epistemology research philosophy accepts the information after rigorous testing. The philosophical positions within epistemology are positivism, realism, and interpretivism. The positivism approach uses research questions that can be answered through the investigations of research, realism allows the research to carry out new methods for research that may or may not be scientific. Interpretivism is the philosophical position that helps to understand the people’s culture and social life participation.
In this research, epistemology will be used as a scientific thematic analysis will be conducted to analyze the ethical issues in research in sports. The use of research questions to understand related concepts is included in the research which makes the positivism approach to be best suited for the research.
The research approach can be deductive or inductive based on the aim of the research. In the deductive approach, a hypothesis is built based on the existing theory which is tested through the scientific approaches in the research. The data in the deductive approach is generally collected through questionnaires to test the hypothesis. This approach provides results generally too specific as a general hypothesis is created and tested specifically for the research. The inductive approach, however, allows the researcher to create a theory based on the result of the research instead of adopting an existing theory. This approach provides results specific to the general form. This approach is commonly used with qualitative research where the data is generally collected through interviews or observations that help to create theory.
In this research, an inductive approach will be used as no theory will be adopted to create any hypothesis instead, ethical issues associated with sports research will be identified through secondary and primary research.
the method of conducting the research determines the research strategy, various methods can be adopted for the research based on the aim of the research such as experimental research where expected results are tested against the actual results by considering various factors in the scientific research process. The survey method is used to collect reliable data to collect inferences about the selected topic (Armat et.al, 2018). The case study method is used when the research is focused on a specific group or area. In this research, the systematic literature review will be used to conduct the thematic analysis that would determine the ethical issues associated with the sports research.
The choice of type of data, qualitative or quantitative defines the research choice. Qualitative data is associated with the categorical attributes of the research variable whereas quantitative data is associated with the numerical attributes of the research variable. The research choice can be Mono, Multi, or Mixed. When the research includes both qualitative and quantitative data, it is said to be a mixed method. When either of the two data types is used in the research, it is said to be a mono method, and when both types of data are used but restricted to different parts of the research, it is said to be multi-method. In this research, a multi-method will be used as both the types of data will be used but will be restricted to a different section of the research.
The time required for the research determines the time horizon of the research. There are various activities involved in the research which may require different time frame. When the time for completion of research is pre-determined, it is called the cross-sectional time horizon. Whereas in dome studies, the data must be required from the extended period which can lead to elongate the time frame. This is called the longitudinal time horizon. In this research, a Cross-sectional time horizon is used as the duration is specified and described in the Gantt chart below.
Data is the crucial element of research and must be collected as per the requirement of the research. The results and reliability of the research depend on the type and source of data collected. The data collection process can be primary or secondary. In the primary data collection, the data is generated specifically for the research whereas, in the second method, the data is collected from existing related studies (Melnikovas, 2018). The sources of primary data are interviews, observations, questionnaires, surveys, etc. the sources of secondary data collection are books, journals, articles, reports, etc. In this research, both primary and secondary data will be used to determine the ethical issues associated with sports research. The primary data will be collected through the interviews of researchers who have conducted sports research to determine the ethical challenges that they might have faced. The secondary data will be collected from the kinds of literature, reports, and published articles for the thematic analysis.
In this research, both the qualitative and quantitative analysis will be conducted to analyze the response of the interview of researchers and the thematic analysis of the secondary resource collected.
Data Reliability and Validity.
The quality of research is determined by the validity and reliability of the data used and the methods used for the data analysis (Noble and Smith, 2015). The reliability of the research is related to the consistency in the research methods that led to the conclusion and validity is related to the accuracy and relevance of the data with the selected topic of research. In this research, primary data will be collected from the interview of researchers in the sports theme to understand the major ethical challenges faced by them and authentic secondary resources will be used to use the identified studies and to understand the literature gap in the topic of research.
Every researcher must follow the basic guidelines laid for researching so that the research is reliable. The ethical consideration is related to the data collection, analysis, and representation process. The primary data collection must not force any person to participate in the research rather the participation of people in the survey, questionnaire, or observation must be voluntary. No pressure or obligation should be experienced by any participants. Data protection is another important consideration that a researcher must follow, personal data shouldn’t be collected and in the case when it is required, the identity of the participant must be kept anonymous (Ketefian, 2015). The secondary data used in the research must be authentic and properly referenced using the proper formatting such as Harvard/APA to avoid any issues related to the patent or copyright.
Significance of the Research
The research will identify common ethical issues that arise in research sport, the impact of the ethical research process on the reliability of research will be determined which would be useful for the researchers to conduct the research ethically by considering the issues associated to provide more reliable research in sports. The research will also provide solutions that can help to overcome the identified challenges in sports research. The literature gap is identified as the lack of scientific evidence that covers the importance of ethical code of conduct in sports research, the current research will target the research gap identified through the literature review.
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