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date: 16 July 2018

Abstract and Keywords

The purpose of this chapter is to provide a context for thinking about the role of ethics in quantitative methodology. We begin by reviewing the sweep of events that led to the creation and expansion of legal and professional rules for the protection of research subjects and society against unethical research. The risk-benefit approach has served as an instrument of prior control by institutional review boards. After discussing the nature of that approach, we sketch a model of the costs and utilities of the “doing” and “not doing” of research. We illustrate some implications of the expanded model for particular data analytic and reporting practices. We then outline a 5 × 5 matrix of general ethical standards crossed with general data analytic and reporting standards to encourage thinking about opportunities to address quantitative methodological problems in ways that may have mutual ethical and substantive rewards. Finally, we discuss such an opportunity in the context of problems associated with risk statistics that tend to exaggerate the absolute effects of therapeutic interventions in randomized trials.

Keywords: Accountability, American Psychological Association (APA) Ethics Code, Belmont Report, ethical principles, health statistics, institutional review board (IRB), moral dilemmas, Nuernberg (Nuremberg) Code, quantitative methodology, risk-benefit assessment

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