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Becoming an ethical researcher
Becoming an ethical researcher

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7 Summary of Session 5

Remaining ethical during research

Conducting field work, whether in person or remotely, is likely to present unexpected challenges. In this session you have worked through some dilemmas and thought about the ethical impact of changes and why these matter.

Your interests and the contexts and research designs presented here – from participatory work with children and randomised controlled trials to adapting to a global crisis – are very different. You have also thought about teamwork and why research always impacts others, as well as why it is ethical to consider safety, wellbeing and resilience.

The section started with Aristotle’s ideas about virtues and vices and this is a concept you can now revisit.

Activity 11 Advice

Timing: Allow approximately 10 minutes

Earlier, you met Alison Buckler and Liz Chamberlain introducing their work in Zimbabwe with the SAGE project. Alison was happy to provide some advice on ethics for new researchers.

Read the following short transcript and highlight any take-away learning points.

Researcher reflective discussion

DEBORAH: And Alison, can I ask you, what advice do you have about research and about ethics for other perhaps new researchers?

ALISON: I think the first thing is that ethical issues will continue to arise and surprise you throughout the whole research process. And then I think when you’re a new researcher and you have this sort of checklist of things you have to do and one of those is to apply for your ethical approval. And you do that, and you get a signature and then you can go off and do your field work. And sometimes it’s easy and kind of tempting to just put that in a folder and think, right, that’s done. Now I can get on with my data generation.

And I think that it’s really important to remember that that is a living process, a living document. And things will come up that surprise you and you have to deal with. And you need to be aware of that and open to them. And not just in a kind of problem-solving way, although that’s really important too, and thinking about how they affect your participants. But also, as Liz said, you know, be open to learning from things that can seem quite catastrophic at times in the research, and be open to dealing with them as best you can in the field. And then thinking about how you can learn from them and how they can actually improve your research and how you can write about them. And how you can think about your research in a different way.

So I guess one piece of advice would be to remember that ethics is not a, you know, something that happens at the beginning. It’s an ongoing thing throughout the research.

You can now go to Session 6 [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .