In 2022, Michigan State University Associate Professor Matthew Brodhead was a lead co-author or co-editor on books that will result in ethical research and professional behaviors within the field of applied behavior analysis.
Both books are partially in response to the new Ethics Code for Behavior Analysts, published by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board®, and help current and future researchers and practitioners be responsive to the needs of their participants and consumers. The books also highlight how behavior analysts can be thoughtful about diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in research and practice.
“Research Ethics in Behavior Analysis,” published in November 2022 by Elsevier, is the first of its kind in the field, says Brodhead, who served as co-editor. Previously, no other books existed with a sole focus on research ethics for behavior analysts.
“Research Ethics” is intended for graduate-level courses (like the ones in MSU’s programs in Applied Behavior Analysis, Applied Behavior Analysis and Autism Spectrum Disorders and Special Education). It covers how individuals may approach research in areas including laboratory, clinic and classroom spaces. Though its primary audience is behavior analysts pursuing research careers, the book covers a wide range of methodologies and topics that could be relevant for researchers in adjacent disciplines.
In addition to Brodhead’s editorial responsibilities, he also contributed a chapter with Special Education Doctoral Students Allison Cascarilla and Holly Long on subject recruitment, consent and assent to “Research Ethics.” Throughout the writing process, Brodhead worked closely with co-editors David Cox (Endicott College), Noor Syed (SUNY Empire State College) and Shawn Quigley (Melmark) to ensure a diverse set of voices and expertise were represented in the book.
“We wanted to highlight DEI throughout the book, not just because of the new Ethics Code for Behavior Analysts, but because it is important,” Brodhead said. “We wanted to provide a framework for researchers to really attend to these important issues that, quite frankly, have been and continue to be ignored.”
Brodhead’s second book in 2022 also provides an ethical framework—for practitioners.
With Cox and Quigley, Brodhead published the second edition of “Practical Ethics for Effective Treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorder” in May 2022, also with Elsevier. Brodhead served as the lead author.
“Practical Ethics” expands on the first-edition of the book, and includes updates to the BACB’s® Ethics Code for Behavior Analysts and highlights recent developments in the research literature. Revisions were also made to support DEI efforts. For example, Brodhead took the lead on ensuring language throughout the book was gender inclusive.
The book also addresses the growing prominence of telehealth. In 2018, when the first edition was published, telehealth was more of an “abstract idea,” Brodhead says. “Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the profession was forced to shift to providing services through telehealth and grow that telehealth infrastructure. Now, it is more of a regular feature within the practice.”
Both books are additional evidence in Brodhead’s—and the College of Education’s—leadership in ethical and professional issues in applied behavior analysis and autism treatment.
“MSU is a leader in promoting ethical, student-centered and family-centered support,” said Brodhead, who has previously served as the research director of the MSU Early Learning Institute and as director of Spartan Caregiver Support, a COVID-19 project that provided free informational support and resources to autism caregivers across Michigan. “At the MSU College of Education, we are focused on well-being and respect for the students and communities we support. Ethics drives everything we do in pursuing those goals.”