Company employees as experimental participants in traffic safety research: Prevalence and implications

Igor Radun, Gustav Nilsonne, Jenni Radun, Gert Helgesson, Göran Kecklund

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

The use of company employees as experimental participants when testing products, technology or paradigms developed by the same company raises questions about bias in results and research ethics. We aimed to investigate the prevalence of studies authored by car company researchers with car company employees as participants, to assess the risk of bias in such studies, to investigate journal editors' opinions in the field of traffic safety regarding these procedures, and to offer a general discussion about ethical and methodological implications. Three types of data were collected. We (i) examined guidelines and recommendations for authors in eleven selected peer-reviewed journals in the area of traffic safety; (ii) surveyed editors of these journals; and (iii) reviewed articles authored by researchers from a selected group of car manufacturers and published in these journals during 2011-2015. Guidelines and recommendations for authors in the included journals did not mention whether and under what circumstances company employees can be research participants, nor did publishers' general guidelines. However, three out of the four editors who responded to our survey believed that this issue of private company researchers using participants from the same company deserves to be explicitly addressed in their journal's guide for authors. The total number of regular articles and conference papers during 2011-2015 in the eleven journals reviewed was 6763; 95 (1.4%) listed at least one car manufacturer in the authors' affiliations; and out of these, nine included company employees as participants. In summary, company employees are seldom (0.13%) used as research participants in traffic safety research. Nevertheless, the use of company employees as research participants raises questions about bias in results as well as about incursions into the participants' autonomy. (C) 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
JournalTransportation Research. Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour
Volume60
Pages (from-to)81-92
Number of pages12
ISSN1369-8478
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • ASSISTANCE
  • BEHAVIOR
  • CONTEXT
  • DISTRACTION
  • Experimenter effect
  • Good subject effect
  • Public-private partnership
  • Publication bias
  • SOCIAL-PSYCHOLOGY
  • SYSTEM
  • 515 Psychology

Cite this

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title = "Company employees as experimental participants in traffic safety research: Prevalence and implications",
abstract = "The use of company employees as experimental participants when testing products, technology or paradigms developed by the same company raises questions about bias in results and research ethics. We aimed to investigate the prevalence of studies authored by car company researchers with car company employees as participants, to assess the risk of bias in such studies, to investigate journal editors' opinions in the field of traffic safety regarding these procedures, and to offer a general discussion about ethical and methodological implications. Three types of data were collected. We (i) examined guidelines and recommendations for authors in eleven selected peer-reviewed journals in the area of traffic safety; (ii) surveyed editors of these journals; and (iii) reviewed articles authored by researchers from a selected group of car manufacturers and published in these journals during 2011-2015. Guidelines and recommendations for authors in the included journals did not mention whether and under what circumstances company employees can be research participants, nor did publishers' general guidelines. However, three out of the four editors who responded to our survey believed that this issue of private company researchers using participants from the same company deserves to be explicitly addressed in their journal's guide for authors. The total number of regular articles and conference papers during 2011-2015 in the eleven journals reviewed was 6763; 95 (1.4{\%}) listed at least one car manufacturer in the authors' affiliations; and out of these, nine included company employees as participants. In summary, company employees are seldom (0.13{\%}) used as research participants in traffic safety research. Nevertheless, the use of company employees as research participants raises questions about bias in results as well as about incursions into the participants' autonomy. (C) 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.",
keywords = "ASSISTANCE, BEHAVIOR, CONTEXT, DISTRACTION, Experimenter effect, Good subject effect, Public-private partnership, Publication bias, SOCIAL-PSYCHOLOGY, SYSTEM, 515 Psychology",
author = "Igor Radun and Gustav Nilsonne and Jenni Radun and Gert Helgesson and G{\"o}ran Kecklund",
year = "2019",
month = "1",
doi = "10.1016/j.trf.2018.10.008",
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Company employees as experimental participants in traffic safety research : Prevalence and implications. / Radun, Igor; Nilsonne, Gustav ; Radun, Jenni; Helgesson, Gert ; Kecklund, Göran.

In: Transportation Research. Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour, Vol. 60, 01.2019, p. 81-92.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Company employees as experimental participants in traffic safety research

T2 - Prevalence and implications

AU - Radun, Igor

AU - Nilsonne, Gustav

AU - Radun, Jenni

AU - Helgesson, Gert

AU - Kecklund, Göran

PY - 2019/1

Y1 - 2019/1

N2 - The use of company employees as experimental participants when testing products, technology or paradigms developed by the same company raises questions about bias in results and research ethics. We aimed to investigate the prevalence of studies authored by car company researchers with car company employees as participants, to assess the risk of bias in such studies, to investigate journal editors' opinions in the field of traffic safety regarding these procedures, and to offer a general discussion about ethical and methodological implications. Three types of data were collected. We (i) examined guidelines and recommendations for authors in eleven selected peer-reviewed journals in the area of traffic safety; (ii) surveyed editors of these journals; and (iii) reviewed articles authored by researchers from a selected group of car manufacturers and published in these journals during 2011-2015. Guidelines and recommendations for authors in the included journals did not mention whether and under what circumstances company employees can be research participants, nor did publishers' general guidelines. However, three out of the four editors who responded to our survey believed that this issue of private company researchers using participants from the same company deserves to be explicitly addressed in their journal's guide for authors. The total number of regular articles and conference papers during 2011-2015 in the eleven journals reviewed was 6763; 95 (1.4%) listed at least one car manufacturer in the authors' affiliations; and out of these, nine included company employees as participants. In summary, company employees are seldom (0.13%) used as research participants in traffic safety research. Nevertheless, the use of company employees as research participants raises questions about bias in results as well as about incursions into the participants' autonomy. (C) 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

AB - The use of company employees as experimental participants when testing products, technology or paradigms developed by the same company raises questions about bias in results and research ethics. We aimed to investigate the prevalence of studies authored by car company researchers with car company employees as participants, to assess the risk of bias in such studies, to investigate journal editors' opinions in the field of traffic safety regarding these procedures, and to offer a general discussion about ethical and methodological implications. Three types of data were collected. We (i) examined guidelines and recommendations for authors in eleven selected peer-reviewed journals in the area of traffic safety; (ii) surveyed editors of these journals; and (iii) reviewed articles authored by researchers from a selected group of car manufacturers and published in these journals during 2011-2015. Guidelines and recommendations for authors in the included journals did not mention whether and under what circumstances company employees can be research participants, nor did publishers' general guidelines. However, three out of the four editors who responded to our survey believed that this issue of private company researchers using participants from the same company deserves to be explicitly addressed in their journal's guide for authors. The total number of regular articles and conference papers during 2011-2015 in the eleven journals reviewed was 6763; 95 (1.4%) listed at least one car manufacturer in the authors' affiliations; and out of these, nine included company employees as participants. In summary, company employees are seldom (0.13%) used as research participants in traffic safety research. Nevertheless, the use of company employees as research participants raises questions about bias in results as well as about incursions into the participants' autonomy. (C) 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

KW - ASSISTANCE

KW - BEHAVIOR

KW - CONTEXT

KW - DISTRACTION

KW - Experimenter effect

KW - Good subject effect

KW - Public-private partnership

KW - Publication bias

KW - SOCIAL-PSYCHOLOGY

KW - SYSTEM

KW - 515 Psychology

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DO - 10.1016/j.trf.2018.10.008

M3 - Article

VL - 60

SP - 81

EP - 92

JO - Transportation Research. Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour

JF - Transportation Research. Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour

SN - 1369-8478

ER -