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Research ethics and disparity versus discrimination

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1. What is research? What provides discipline in the research process? Why is this discipline important?

2. What are research ethics? What is a code of conduct?

3. What is the difference between disparity and discrimination? Provide an example of ethnicity, race, or socioeconomic status that lead to the disparity.

4. What is the concept of visibility, and what is its relationship to ethnicity?

5. What is the effect of the civil rights movement on crime and criminal justice?

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1. What is research? What provides discipline in the research process? Why is this discipline important?

Research is quite simple: it is the application of factual statements to an already existing body of theory. This is to say that if you are arguing that family breakdown is the main determinant to crime, then the researcher's job is to find all relevant facts from reputable agencies that will either back or refute the statement.

Discipline can come from many sources. Political correctness and social sanction are one. Peer review can, in a limited way, be another. Ideally, the congruence of facts and theory should be the sole source of discipline. This is of crucial importance because there are a surprisingly large number of researchers in the criminal justice field that have no difficulty in fudging the numbers to make sure their pet theory looks much better than it is. David Heleniak, in the Rutgers Law Review, claims that dishonesty is rife among criminal justice researchers. He is specifically dealing with claims of domestic abuse in divorce cases. The fraud here is also exposed by Donald Dutton and Kenneth Corvo in the journal Aggression and Violent Behavior. They write:

"For over thirty years, the public policy response to the problem of domestic violence has been defined by activists as the socially sanctioned dominance of women by men. This view of patriarchy as the sole cause of domestic violence is the underpinning for a policy/practice paradigm that has dominated the regulatory, legal, and policy discourse of the United States, Canada and other countries (458)."

This is precisely what honesty and discipline are struggling to avoid. Such forces like ideology, group-think, conformity, and avoidance of controversy can skew a researcher's data so as to maintain a safe position. In addition, the choice of theory cannot exist by itself. The theory for which you are to collect data cannot be the result of a previous commitment, but must develop wherever the data take you.

2. What are research ethics? What is a code of conduct?

Research ethics are sets of rules that govern the nature of impartiality. Usually, ethics in research deals with questions of plagiarism and other forms of dishonesty. Conflicts of interest are another area: membership in an ideological organization might be a cause to distort research funding. The federal government has several guidelines that define misconduct in research. These include the deliberate omission of data, the refusal to follow ...

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The following posting discusses research ethics. It explains the differences between disparity and discrimination.

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