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Research ethics beyond the IRB: Selection bias and the direction of innovation in applied economics

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  • Jeffrey D. Michler
  • William A. Masters
  • Anna Josephson

Abstract

Principles for ethical behavior in the context of research are codified into rules that may change over time to meet peoples’ needs in specific institutions, including universities and professional associations. This paper aims to spark discussion about a set of ethical choices beyond those addressed by an IRB or recent association policy statements. Our specific focus is topic selection and the role of researchers’ interests and incentives in determining the kinds of research that we do. Using the principle of induced innovation, we show how changing incentives can influence the direction of research effort and thereby affect the kinds of policies or technologies that are supported by available evidence. With this paper, we hope to generate discussion among applied economists about selection bias in research and how we can use insights from economics itself to guide topic selection. JEL CLASSIFICATION A11; A14; B41; Q00

Suggested Citation

  • Jeffrey D. Michler & William A. Masters & Anna Josephson, 2021. "Research ethics beyond the IRB: Selection bias and the direction of innovation in applied economics," Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 43(4), pages 1352-1365, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:apecpp:v:43:y:2021:i:4:p:1352-1365
    DOI: 10.1002/aepp.13132
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Joshua D. Angrist & Jörn-Steffen Pischke, 2009. "Mostly Harmless Econometrics: An Empiricist's Companion," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, number 8769.
    2. Josephson, Anna & Smale, Melinda, 2020. "What do you mean by ‘informed consent’? Ethics in economic development research," MetaArXiv py654, Center for Open Science.
    3. Josephson, Anna & Michler, Jeffrey D., 2018. "Viewpoint: Beasts of the field? Ethics in agricultural and applied economics," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 79(C), pages 1-11.
    4. Binswanger, Hans P, 1974. "A Microeconomic Approach to Induced Innovation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 84(336), pages 940-958, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Sarah A. Janzen & Jeffrey D. Michler, 2021. "Ulysses' pact or Ulysses' raft: Using pre‐analysis plans in experimental and nonexperimental research," Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 43(4), pages 1286-1304, December.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • A11 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Role of Economics; Role of Economists
    • A14 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Sociology of Economics
    • B41 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology - - - Economic Methodology
    • Q00 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General - - - General

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