Dissertation Ethics Chapter

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Ethical Considerations can be specified as one of the most important parts of the research. Dissertations may even be doomed to failure if this part is missing.

According to Bryman and Bell (2007)[1] the following ten points represent the most important principles related to ethical considerations in dissertations:

  1. Research participants should not be subjected to harm in any ways whatsoever.
  2. Respect for the dignity of research participants should be prioritised.
  3. Full consent should be obtained from the participants prior to the study.
  4. The protection of the privacy of research participants has to be ensured.
  5. Adequate level of confidentiality of the research data should be ensured.
  6. Anonymity of individuals and organisations participating in the research has to be ensured.
  7. Any deception or exaggeration about the aims and objectives of the research must be avoided.
  8. Affiliations in any forms, sources of funding, as well as any possible conflicts of interests have to be declared.
  9. Any type of communication in relation to the research should be done with honesty and transparency.
  10. Any type of misleading information, as well as representation of primary data findings in a biased way must be avoided.

In order to address ethical considerations aspect of your dissertation in an effective manner, you will need to expand discussions of each of the following points to at least one paragraph:

1. Voluntary participation of respondents in the research is important. Moreover, participants have rights to withdraw from the study at any stage if they wish to do so.

2. Respondents should participate on the basis of informed consent. The principle of informed consent involves researchers providing sufficient information and assurances about taking part to allow individuals to understand the implications of participation and to reach a fully informed, considered and freely given decision about whether or not to do so, without the exercise of any pressure or coercion.[2]

3. The use of offensive, discriminatory, or other unacceptable language needs to be avoided in the formulation of Questionnaire/Interview/Focus group questions.

4. Privacy and anonymity or respondents is of a paramount importance.

5. Acknowledgement of works of other authors used in any part of the dissertation with the use of Harvard/APA/Vancouver referencing system according to the Dissertation Handbook

6. Maintenance of the highest level of objectivity in discussions and analyses throughout the research

7. Adherence to Data Protection Act (1998) if you are studying in the UK

In studies that do not involve primary data collection, on the other hand, ethical issues are going to be limited to the points d) and e) above.

Most universities have their own Code of Ethical Practice. It is critically important for you to thoroughly adhere to this code in every aspect of your research and declare your adherence in ethical considerations part of your dissertation.

My e-book, The Ultimate Guide to Writing a Dissertation in Business Studies: a step by step assistance offers practical assistance to complete a dissertation with minimum or no stress. The e-book covers all stages of writing a dissertation starting from the selection to the research area to submitting the completed version of the work within the deadline. John Dudovskiy



[1] Bryman, A. &  Bell, E. (2007) “Business Research Methods”, 2nd edition. Oxford University Press.

[2] Saunders, M., Lewis, P. & Thornhill, A. (2012) “Research Methods for Business Students” 6th edition, Pearson Education Limited.

Dissertation Chapter 1: What is a Normative Ethical Theory?

75 PagesPosted: 11 Oct 2006  

Date Written: August 1, 2007


This Chapter elucidates and defends the following thesis: A theory is a normative ethical theory just in case it claims that a certain set of normative requirements ranges over (a) all actions the performance of which would advance or set back persons' interests, or (b) any states of affairs the occurrence of which would advance or set back such interests, or (c) any ways of life the pursuit of which would do the same, or (d) any policies the pursuit of which would do the same, or (e) any character traits the continued manifestation of which would advance or set back such interests. We shall call this the Universal Claims Thesis. This Thesis is the first premise of the dissertation's argument, the Argument from Claims about Interest-Affecting Normative Requirement. The Chapter first explicates the key concepts employed in the Thesis. It then defends the Thesis on the ground that it, considered as a theory about normative ethical theories, possesses more of the theoretical virtues of consistency with observation, explanatory utility, and coherence with widely held theoretical commitments than any of the competing theories of normative ethical theory.

Keywords: normative ethics, normative ethical theory, normativity, ethics, interests, morality, theoretical virtues

JEL Classification: D63, D64

Suggested Citation:Suggested Citation

Donahue, T. J., Dissertation Chapter 1: What is a Normative Ethical Theory? (August 1, 2007). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=936723 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.936723

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