You are a park manager in a famous national park that attracts millions of tourists and campers per year. You perform a variety of professional services in the overall management of the park and its recreation area. You are also responsible for the administration and management of park activities. The park has unique natural resources and is considered to be a natural heritage site. Recently, however, you have noticed a dramatic deterioration of these resources, particularly at the campground and recreation area. Based on the amount of litter, damage caused by unintended fire and animals’ persistent search for food around these areas, you suspect that the deterioration problem is caused by the visitors’ unsustainable and environmentally unfriendly patterns of behavior.
You decide to investigate this issue and to conduct an undercover/disguised observational research study [i.e., directly and systematically observing human behavior] of the environmentally unfriendly patterns of behavior among the visitors. Additionally, you plan to informally interview a sample of visitors about their practices in the park without disclosing that you are a park manager. You decide not to wear your uniform and to present yourself as a fellow visitor. You believe that this will allow the collection of authentic responses and behaviors. You plan to publish a report based on these findings. You also plan to take pictures of unethical behaviors that you will include as an evidence in your report that you will post online.
However, something bothers you about your plan. You ask yourself:
(When answering questions, please refer to both disguised observations and informal interviews that you were planning to do)
- How does the issue of informed consent apply in this case? Should I anticipate any problems with the planned approach to data collection? (6 points)
- How do the issues of privacy and confidentiality apply in this case? (6 points)
- How does the issue of deception and disclosure apply in this case? (talk about how “acts of commission” and the “acts of omission” potentially apply here, which we learned in class) (6 points)
- Do you think the study could be done ethically at all? Why or why not? Support your conclusions with a specific scenario of the research methods process from beginning to end. (8 points)
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