The American Psychology Association (APA) expressly supports academic competence, independence of mind and research affiliation and the necessity to have ethical safeguards in the production of scholarly publications that advance the course of the psychological professions and affiliated ventures. The processes of the conduct of psychological researches face considerable contestations emanating from the unique nature of psychological phenomena and the complexity of psychological data (Parsonson & Alquicira, 2019). As an oversight agency, the APA has a critical role of stewardship in safeguarding the quality and integrity of psychological research and publication for the success of the professions and affiliated institutions of governance. Meaningful psychological research often demands the direct involvement of human participants with privacy and dignity concerns as well as legal preponderance soliciting immense concerns for ethical restraint. The APA’s code of ethics can be divided into five cardinal principles, and the necessity and value of moral systems and safeguards cannot be gainsaid in the affairs of a critically important profession as that of psychology.
- Beneficence and Non-malfeasance
Going by the nature of the profession, APA requires that psychologists venture to promote objectively the wellbeing and experience of those with whom they work. Within the clinical practice, therapy patients need a devoted service to alleviate the problems they experience. In research works, which often involve experimental methods, the psychologists are encouraged to deal with total disclosure to the participants to disclose any forms of the hidden possibility of abuse to the volunteers. It is useful to eliminate covert affiliations, biases and conspiracy approach from the work of psychologists because it is fundamentally wrong to use people as pawns in the psychological fields. Truthfulness is deemed to cultivate confidence, which in turn eliminates prejudices and potential abuses that may occur in the process of their work.
Psychological research often involves intense intrigues. The massive interests expressed in psychology research always include political or economic outcomes, and researchers should ever be expected to remain impartial without any undue external influences. In publishing the findings, the researchers should always be guided by the fact of their observations rather than make conclusions influenced by external agents, which would be grossly unethical to the fraternity. Moreover, sponsorship and stewardship to influence the publications in the field of psychology are discouraged because as a growing field, the body of psychological knowledge should be holistic and humane rather than political or economic biased and falsified. Any forms of falsification and fabrication of data are thus deemed unprofessional and even criminal in the professional sense.
- Responsibility and Fidelity
The APA envisions a community of professionals in the fields of psychology and counselling who can take good care of their peers and colleagues. Moreover, the profession has a fraternity that possesses critical skills for addressing most of the problems in their communities, and as such, encourages the active participation in the shaping of their communities. Ethical compliance is a vital goal in the promotion of a robust profession in the field of psychology and as such a critical safeguard. The members of the profession are encouraged to devote part of their time in analyzing and addressing the problems in their communities with a view of promoting better livelihoods. Fidelity to the organizations and fidelity to all regulatory expectations would suffice for the work of psychologists involved in research because most of the psychological research is conducted within statutory institutions. Institutions thrive based on the advancement of their statutory mandate without which they have no legal authority. Researchers affiliated to such institutions have the duty and responsibility to comply with all the provisions expressed.
- Respect for People’s Rights and Dignity
The field of psychology often involves the direct assertion of human participants as research volunteers or other modalities like patients. The psychologist should respect the privacy, confidentiality, and integrity of such persons as a matter of professional competence (Frantz, 2017). Professional boundaries and regulations have to be upheld at all times because psychologists work with their clients under unfavourable circumstances when they are most vulnerable. For instance, individuals undergoing grief or trauma or depression may lose critical social competence to make accurate decisions regarding their choices and conduct. The psychologist under their care should not abuse or take undue advantage over them.
Justice implies fairness and impartiality in dealing with others. Psychologists have the responsibility always to be fair and to recognize the critical value of their profession to society in addressing many of the human existential challenges. In their practice, psychologists encounter many issues that test their competence to the limit (Hailes et al., 2020). They should also recognize their limitations in addressing such problems as may arise in society from time to time and should be honest to accept their limitations. Justice implies paying critical attention to the rights and expectations of varied sections of society. Researchers who publish psychological material that misleads, falsifies, or doctors useful programs in society present not only an immediate risk but abject jeopardy to the natural development of their communities and the institution of APA strictly demands justice concerns.
All practising psychologists are expected by the professional institution to conduct all their dealings with integrity, in a manner that sustains the reputation of the profession. Personal honesty and institutional integrity is a vital goal for APA, mainly because it aids multiagency collaboration, governance oversight, and progress without which all the psychologists would have no professions and livelihoods. In the social sciences, the APA is by far the most integral of research agencies and as such, should be promoted in its quest and mandate to develop the academic field through research. Researchers, therefore, have the obligation to maintain a very high standard of integrity among themselves and in all their research undertakings.
- Disclose Intellectual Property Frankly
Psychological research involves the use of resources and findings from previous publications. Researchers should not be guided by greed or any presumptions. Rendering references to a published work in an accurate and systematic process is a useful concern for the APA’s guidelines. Advisors and faculty contributions in any works for publication should be acknowledged expressly. Because of incessant contestations about published works, APA often strives to ensure there is proportionate recognition of the contributors and that such appreciation is expressed in acknowledgements.
- Respect for Confidentiality and Privacy
The institution of the APA ensures the psychological research practices comply with the laws and provisions expressed by the state and federal laws. The rules are a prominent guideline for all professional undertaking and as such, must be upheld by all professional agencies involved in the research. The limits of confidentiality have to be disclosed to the research participants, and their consent obtained so that the research is valid and does not violate rights and privileges of privacy assumed for the citizenry and implied in constitutional law. Confidentiality is critical to not only research participants but also the third parties who might be contacted during the research.
- The Informed Consent Rule
All research involving the participation of individuals should solicit the consent of such individuals, and each should be furnished with the relevant information pertaining to skill requirements, benefits, and influences pertaining to the undertaking. The federal provision clarifies the conditions of disclosure and consent that is regarded as adequate. The conditions for approval stipulated by the APA include the declaration for all accruing benefits for the participants, data coding and sharing, incentives for participation, whoever can be contacted by the participants in the research process, reasonable research details including the prospects for any discomfort or potential risks and harm. Moreover, the disclosure should adequately describe the extent of engagement duration, expectations in terms of roles and competencies, procedures and expected outcomes. This makes it easy for the participants to take positions they are sure to accomplish effectively.
- Consciousness with multiple roles
The APA is critical of research designs and procedures that might pose harm or impair professional progression and integrity. The institution, therefore, dissuades researchers from involvement in activities that are potentially harmful to the researcher or the public in general. Before soliciting multiple relationships in their research undertaking, the institutions encourage the performance of elaborate due diligence (Levitt et al., 2018). For instance, in recruiting students to indulge in critically harmful research may not be endorsed. The psychologist should be cautioned not to exploit the power differentials between them and learners, which would jeopardize their activities in instructional encounters.
In conclusion, the institution of the APA has elaborate programs always to spearhead suitable levels of oversight and controls in the practices of psychologists to sustain the integrity and professionalism levels in the profession with a view of making it productive and responsive to the needs of society. The rights and privileges of the participants in research undertaking have to be given adequate consideration. Aspects of integrity in the research process, justice, and transparency required in working with stakeholders is a mandatory concern because of potentially conflicting interests. Moreover, rendering intellectual property in the right manner is a statutory requirement, which has to be respected at all costs.
Frantz, S. (2017). The most unethical researcher: An activity for demonstrating research ethics in psychology.
Hailes, H. P., Ceccolini, C. J., Gutowski, E., & Liang, B. (2020). Ethical guidelines for social justice in psychology. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice.
Levitt, H. M., Bamberg, M., Creswell, J. W., Frost, D., Josselson, R., & Suárez-Orozco, C. (2018). Journal article reporting standards for qualitative research in psychology: The APA publications and communications board task force report. American Psychologist, 73(1), 26-46.
Parsonson, K. L., & Alquicira, L. M. (2019). International psychology ethics codes: Where is the “culture” in acculturation. Ethical Human Psychology & Psychiatry, 20(2), 86-99.