Professional Ethics

Last week, we had a presentation on Responsible Conduct in Research. Shannon Wapole was kind enough to present to us, and we learned a lot about ethical behavior. Ethics is something that is so necessary for humane research—regardless of whether or not one is conducting scientific research on animals or distributing a survey to corporations, ethical procedure must be followed in order to give due credit where it is deserved and to ensure that no one gets hurt in the process. Having never conducted research before, it was good for me to get a good look at how the process of research works from an ethical standpoint.

My research is all about ethical behavior. After all, fraud is obviously unethical behavior that is intended for wrongful gain. This behavior can be “justified” in the perpetrator’s eyes through a variety of excuses—perhaps they look at embezzlement as simply borrowing the money. Perhaps the perpetrator sees the organization that they work for as not paying them enough, so they take money from the organization as compensation. Or perhaps they are going through a rough time, so they take the money in order to supplement their income. Regardless of their reasons, it is still deception and therefore unethical behavior.

In the accounting field, ethical practices are drilled into each accountant’s head. Without these practices, deception caused by accountants or their organization can cause deep underlying economic problems that no one has an obligation to reveal. True reporting, which involves remaining impartial to the company or organization that the accountant works for, is one of the ethical problems that this field faces. Pressure from the higher echelon may cause an accountant to bend ethical rules or break them entirely. Whistleblowing, an ethical dilemma that any business field faces, is also a huge issue in the accounting world. Thankfully, there are regulations in place that make following ethical practices easier to do. Legislation such as the Whistleblower Act of 1989 gives protection to most whistleblowers. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which I am currently looking at in my research, also provides rigorous regulations that corporations must follow, as well as incentives to stick to true reporting.

Ethical practices are incredibly important for anyone to adhere to, regardless of where they work or what they do. Within my research, I am practicing ethics by avoiding plagiarism within my literature review, and maintaining a balance of reliance on my mentor so that most of the work is mine, with guidance from my mentor when needed. In addition, when I am picking articles to review, I need to make sure that these articles have published data sets. I am also going to be careful, when the time comes to write my final report, to make sure that I present as much of an unbiased conclusion as possible in order to have the best results.

There is much incentive for me to follow ethical practices—regulations, laws, governing associations. Besides my own values and morals, I will also have much incentive to follow regulations and ethical procedures. As an undergraduate researcher, I must follow ethical practices in research. As an accountant, I must face ethical issues such as true reporting. As a lawyer, I must have professional conduct, among other ethical practices. No matter where I go in life, ethical practices follow me within my own values and within my fields.

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