The American Political Science Association (APSA) recently published a Statement on Field Experiments and Research Integrity in Political Science.
“The American Political Science Association supports and fosters the highest standards of research integrity across the full range of research approaches used by political scientists. Field experiments are a powerful tool for understanding and explaining political activity. Research using field experiments advances our ability to systematically analyze politically and substantively important topics regarding the inner workings of democracy, including whether and how individual attitudes and behaviors vary when people are provided different information.
“The discipline of political science, the US federal government, and institutions of higher education employ procedures and practices to protect research subjects and ensure the integrity of research. Careful attention to all such procedures and practices is imperative; this includes recognition that standards for “acceptable” or “sensitive” questions may depend in part on the specific context, substantive focus, and methodology of the research. Researchers whose projects might affect political behavior as a result of research design or implementation are and should be diligent in the formulation and execution of their studies. As both political scientists and citizens, we respect the fundamental importance of voting, elections, and democratic processes, and our research undertakings do and should reflect this commitment.
“We affirm our support for field experiments as an important and valuable method for studying politics, and assert our obligation to the highest ethical standards for all political science research. As a discipline, an association, and citizens, we encourage the discussion and assessment of all issues relevant to the integrity of political science inquiry” .
This article is part of the Winter 2015 issue of Professional Ethics Report (PER). PER, which has been in publication since 1988, reports on news and events, programs and activities, and resources related to professional ethics issues, with a particular focus on those professions whose members are engaged in scientific research and its applications.