Debriefing and accountability in deceptive research

Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 18 (3):pp. 235-251 (2008)
Debriefing is a standard ethical requirement for human research involving the use of deception. Little systematic attention, however, has been devoted to explaining the ethical significance of debriefing and the specific ethical functions that it serves. In this article, we develop an account of debriefing as a tool of moral accountability for the prima facie wrong of deception. Specifically, we contend that debriefing should include a responsibility to promote transparency by explaining the deception and its rationale, to provide an apology to subjects for infringing the principle of respect for persons, and to offer subjects an opportunity to withdraw their data. We also present recommendations concerning the discussion of deception in scientific articles reporting the results of research using deception.
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