Ethics and Research: The checklist

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In a competitive world where information and intelligence is the key to the success of a business, ethics play a pivotal role in ensuring the insights are brought out to formulate strategies. 
Companies spend millions of rupees in conducting market research activities that lay a platform for future strategies. Be it getting the job done in-house or though agencies (see marketing process outsourcing), market research activities need to have insights that are true in nature. Now imagine this, you are a director of the Marketing team in a top FMCG firm and shell out about Rs. 50 Cr for an important research activity and find out months later your strategy fails owing to forged insights by your research firm.

Ethics forms an important part of any marketing activity and especially when it comes to research. In fact the success of any research activity is highly dependent on the ethics that drive them.  Researches need to ask themselves questions to determine whether their activity is ethical or a result of an unethical practise. You can assume that an activity was not ethical if you have any ‘yes’ as an answer to any question:

  • Did I keep my respondents happy while surveying them, since you wouldn’t want any false representations in case you are ill treating them?
  • Is decision post the research partial?
  • Am I shying away from the results of the strategy based on the research?
  • Am I dodging questions just to get away?
  • Have I used some way of coercion during my research?
  • Have I made inferences without backing of data to recommend a strategy?

Well these are some of the questions which need to be addressed while conducting market research. Even marketers have to do their due diligence to avoid such situations and have to keep themselves involved with timely reviews to ensure that the research work is on the right track.  Today, it is always safer and more cost effective to hire a good and ethical team of researchers than lose out on some bad decisions based on unethical practices.

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