What do we mean as by "deception" in educational research?

Year: 1996

Author: Lawson, Eleanor

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Initially I survey the use of deception in research in two major education journals from the 1960s to the 1990s. In one journal the percentage of studies using deception is as high in the 1990s as it was in the 1970s, though in the other, deception has virtually ceased. The survey raised the question: "What do we mean by 'deception'", for I found it hard to decide whether some procedures were deceptive or not. Furthermore, in the debate about deception in research, researchers' conceptions of deception differ. Many researchers say, for example, that withholding any information from participants prior to consent is deceptive. Other researchers think that withholding prior to consent need not be deceptive. Some researchers, too, report uncertainty about whether a certain procedure they used was deceptive. From what bases, then, do researchers answer an ethics committee question: "Does your proposed study involve deception?" Do ethics committees, in turn, differ on what they understand by deception? Some initial data from researchers and ethics committee members are reported. Two different views of deception in research are described that align with two major conceptions of deception discussed by philosophers. These two views hold widely different implications for restriction of research on the grounds that it involves deception.