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1 Research and Ethics Some notes for guidance November 2004.

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1 1 Research and Ethics Some notes for guidance November 2004

2 2 What these slides cover:  Why worry about research ethics?  Consent  Privacy  Confidentiality and anonymity  Data analysis  Ownership of data and conclusions

3 3 Cont’d  Trust and honesty  Reciprocity (or beneficence)  Intervention and advocacy  Harm and risk – to all people involved (including the researcher)

4 4 Why worry?  Ethics concerns the morality of human conduct  Concern about ethics is not just about satisfying research ethics committees!

5 5 `Fieldwork [...] can give rise to a plethora of ethical dilemmas, many of which relate to power gradients between the researcher and the researched. Combined with this are complex issues of knowledge generation, ownership and exploitation’ (Scheyvens et al. in Scheyvens and Storey 2003: 139)

6 6 Informed consent  Only if the participants understand what you tell them about the study and their participation can they give `informed consent’  Informed consent is when a potential participant freely and with full understanding of the research agrees to be part of your project.

7 7 Checklist -- what you need to tell potential participants about your project  Purpose and procedures  Risks  Benefits  Confidentiality  Persons to contact with questions about the research  Voluntary participation, refusal and withdrawal  Number of participants

8 8 Information sheets  An information sheet on the project, which you give to participants has to be phrased in a way that people can understand and in a language that they can read or have read or told to them. Scheyvens and Storey (2003: 143) includes a list of headings of what to include.

9 9 Consent forms  Consent forms detail participants’ rights. There is usually a place for them to sign at the bottom to say they agree to participate.  Such forms are problematic where people cannot sign their name or where such forms raise people’s fears or suspicions. Verbal consent may be more appropriate.

10 10 Avoid undue intrusion `Social researchers must strive to be aware of the intrusive potential of their work. They have no special entitlement to study all phenomena. The advancement of knowledge and the pursuit of information are not themselves justifications for overriding other social and cultural values’ (SRA Ethical Guidelines 2003: 26)

11 11 For example:  Contact may be sought with subjects without advanced warning  Questions may be asked that cause distress or offence  People may be observed (and be identifiable in research findings) without their knowledge...

12 12 Confidentiality  A researcher may be entrusted with private information so: Field notes, tapes, questionnaires etc. must be stored in a safe place Data should only be used for the purpose agreed with the participant and not shared with others unless that has been agreed You should be ready to destroy material if the participant decides to withdraw participation or retract what they have told you.

13 13 Anonymity  The researcher has the responsibility of keeping the identity of participants private so that they will not be personally identifiable in any outputs UNLESS there is a specific reason why they should be identified or they specifically request their identity to be given.  The researcher should explain when anonymity may not be maintained (when someone can be identified by the position they hold, for example).

14 14 Beyond the field  The process of analysis involves decisions about: Transcripts/field notes and interpretation, Which data to use and what not to use, Who to quote and how to quote

15 15 `Data analysis is an ethical issue because it exposes power and privilege in relationships, decision- making around maintaining or curbing relationships with research subjects and the potential for profound relational violations’ Doucet and Mauthner in Mauthner et al. (2002: 139)

16 16 Ownership of data and conclusions  How will the research results be reported and disseminated?  How and when will they be shared with participants?  Who will you acknowledge?  Should team members be co-authors of papers?  Where will findings be stored?

17 17 Other important issues to consider your approach to:  The trust participants and others put in you  Your honesty during data collection and in the reporting of findings  Reciprocity in your relationship with participants  Advocacy and intervention where you are concerned about wrong-doing or injustice

18 18 Cont’d  Attention must always be paid to safety, harm and risk to Participants Research assistants Yourself Researchers who follow

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