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Ethical Aspects of Observational Research

Below you’ll find the types of issues to address when completing an IRB application to do observational research.

If the study will be taking place in a public location (e.g., street corner, public park, etc.)

  • You’ll need to describe where the research will be taking place and what type of behaviors will be recorded.

If the study will be taking place in a private location (e.g., retail store, home, or private business)?

  • You’ll need to describe where the research will be taking place and what type of behaviors will be recorded. You will also need to describe how you have obtained permission to record data at the site.

Are people being observed in places or circumstances in which they have a reasonable expectation of privacy?

  • If yes, describe how the potential benefits of the project justify this invasion of privacy

How do you intend to record information so participants can not be identified directly or through identifiers? Address how you will protect their rights, welfare and privacy. Data coding and locked storage are common practices.