oo2. ethics #1

  1. State the facts
    You are in Lesotho which is a developing setting with a different cultural and social context than what you are used to. The water in this country contains disease-causing pathogens, an issue that can be fixed with chemical additives that make the water safe to drink and cook with. However, before the chemical additives can be engineered and used, you and a team of researchers must travel through different communities within Lesotho to test water sources, which requires the assistance of community members who would have to sacrifice their time and resources such as transportation to guide you to the places where water is stored and retrieved from. The ethical concern is whether or not you as the researcher should be paying the members for their assistance.
  2. Determine the stakeholders
    Community members
    Government of Lesotho
    Grant funder
    Healthcare providers
  3. Motivations for each stakeholder
    1. The researchers
      1. Recognition for their achievements
      2. Money
      3. Impact
      4. The need to make a difference
      5. Prestige
      6. Professional pressure to increase their list of accomplishments
      7. Pressure to impress the organization they are a part of
      8. Love of science
      9. Personal tie to the country of Lesotho
    2. Key community members
      1. Their own health
      2. Willingness to work with a foreigner
      3. Money
    3. Publishers
      1. Contributing to the greater understanding of science
      2. Sell copies/money
      3. Recognition
      4. Cutting-edge research that would give them credibility and prestige
    4. Lesotho Government
      1. Public safety
      2. Votes
      3. Taxpayer money
      4. Good foreign relationships
    5. Grant funders
      1. Assurance that their money is well spent
      2. Good record of their investments
      3. Remain reputable
      4. Recognition and promotion of their institution/organization
    6. Healthcare Providers
      1. More medical knowledge
      2. Better treatment/care for community members with chemical additives
  4. Three alternative solutionsĀ 
    1. Pay the community members for their time and fuel with money
      1. This is a duty-based ethical principle because it is what you think is right and you believe it is your duty to respect the individuals who are giving their time of day to you.
      2. The pros to this solution are maintaining good relations with the local community that you will need to work with for quite a while, engaging the community in your research, and relationship-building.
      3. The cons to this solution are that it is costly, there is difficulty in ensuring fairness in pay (could lead to future complications), and you may need to pay everyone every time for everything.
    2. Compensate the community in means other than money (cash) such as food or other useful items
      1. This is a virtue-based ethical principle because it is what you think a good person would do in a manner that stays within your budget and shows respect to the locals who are helping you.
      2. The pros are that you save money but still give a reward for their time and that it is easier to decipher (no raw statistical calculation).
      3. The cons are that anything other than money can mean nothing, possible food allergies, and no calculation that determines the fairness of payment to each person who helps.
    3. Don’t pay or compensate locals for anything
      1. This is a consequence-based ethical principle because the end goal is simply to get the research done and get it published, regardless of how you achieve that goal.
      2. The pros are that you get the job done with expending as little resources as possible, thus maximizing the grant money, and allowing for the allocation of funds for other priorities/expenses
      3. The cons are that you risk alienating the people you need most, giving yourself a bad reputation, and people not accommodating for your research needs because of lack of compensation.
  5. Additional guidanceĀ 
    1. We all have a personal experience in Sierra Leone where the people we worked with were compensated with money. This seemed to work well and people were happy to work with us.
  6. Best course of action
    1. Pay community members with money for their time, knowledge and fuel with clear boundaries and contracts for terms and conditions of the amount of pay. We chose this because our research team values quality data. Our main reason for traveling so far is to obtain great data and therefore we cannot work with people who are uncooperative.
      1. The first step is to determine the average pay of community members in the workforce and the type of work they get paid a certain amount for. This will help us calculate how much we should pay someone for a task.
      2. The second step is to consider the mileage, wear and tear of car and determine rates based on the fuel price and the socially acceptable payment.
  7. Implications
    Paying people will hopefully cause community members to prioritize our work and give us all the information they know about the water systems and usages in Lesotho. This may backfire if the community members expect that anything they offer to foreigners or to our research time will be exchanged with monetary compensation. To prevent this from happening, we need to make it clear with people about our intentions and reasoning for paying in this particular context. We also will choose the people that we work with wisely by involving stakeholders (ex: ministry of health) who can provide us with a list of point contacts that they feel are trustworthy and diligent. And despite this method being the most expensive and potentially disappointing other stakeholders involved in funding the project, it is the most ethical, efficient, and productive decision that ultimately benefits all stakeholders in the long run once the research is successfully conducted and published.

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