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Current Perspectives on Research Ethics in Qualitative Research (Wolff-Michael Roth, Hella von Unger | 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on October 4, 2018


In this article, we provide a brief introduction to the special issue on research ethics in qualitative research. We describe the general context within which our idea emerged to organize a special issue and present its design and, for purposes of transparency, some particulars with respect to the selection and review process. We sketch some of the common themes that are shared across parts of the paper set, including critical analysis of ethics codes and ethics reviews, the intricacies of informed consent, confidentiality and anonymity in qualitative research and questions of vulnerability.

anonymity; confidentiality; ethics codes; ethics reviews; informed consent; knowledge/power; vulnerability

Roth, W., & von Unger, H. (2018). Current Perspectives on Research Ethics in Qualitative Research. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 19(3). doi:
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Research ethics versus ethical approval: A response to Tomaselli (Papers: Katie Fitzpatrick | 2017)0

Posted by Admin in on September 27, 2018

Keyan Tomaselli’s opinion piece provides a great deal of food for thought about a wide range of issues in research. I want to pick up here on one point he makes, which I think is worth further consideration: the issue of research ethics and approvals in ethnography. He notes that “bio-medical ethical models are imposed on anthropologists” and he raises concerns about how universities engage in the gate keeping of research approvals. This is an important point and one that might usefully be explored further in future issues of this journal. It seems to me that ethical approval has, indeed, been divorced from the academic field of research ethics, especially in qualitative research. As Tomaselli notes, we might question the right of “organisations [to] claim jurisdiction over the right of adult individuals or researchers to make their own respective choices”. I think we might also seek to uphold the rights of young people—not only adults—to make decisions about the kinds of research they engage in and how their voices are represented therein.

Ethical issues in ethnographic research are, indeed, complex, locally and culturally specific, and are difficult to regulate. Part of this difficulty lies in the fact that ethnographic research is, by definition, relational. Romero and Walker (2010, 209) observe that “some of the most prevalent methodological and ethical questions in contemporary ethnographic research concern whose voice is heard and how it is represented”. They note that “in theory and in practice, Institutional Review Boards require that the identity of individuals be protected and remain anonymous or at very least confidential” [sic] (223). Many ethnographers adhere to this approach because they are committed to protecting the identities of their participants, especially when the research concerns personal, legal, sexual or other sensitive materials. However, an assumption that people’s identities should and will be obscured in research representations is also problematic, especially when this decision is made prior to even entering the field.

Fitzpartrick, Katie. 2017. “ Research ethics versus ethical approval: A response to Tomaselli.” The Ethnograhic Edge  1, (1): 21– 33.

Research ethics in the Kalahari: issues, contradictions and concerns (Papers: Keyan Tomaselli | 2017)0

Posted by Admin in on September 6, 2018

The effects of ethical clearance or institutional review board practices are discussed in relation to the experiences of academic field researchers on the one hand and indigenous research participants and/or co-generators of knowledge on the other. Ethical procedures such as protection (do no harm), control (micromanaging methods) and exploitation (taking ownership) are discussed in relation to researcher experiences in southern Africa. Researcher–researched relations, researcher and subject alienation, ethics creep and the clash of ontologies are examined. Some tentative solutions are proposed.

Keywords: ethics, gatekeepers, indigenous rights, institutional review board, Kalahari, ≠Khomani Bushmen

Tomaselli, K.G. (2017): Ethical Procedures? A Critical Intervention: The sacred, the profane, and the planet. The Ethnographic Edge, [S.l.], v. 1, n. 1, p. 3-16.

Qualitative Research in Dangerous Places: Becoming an ”Ethnographer” of Violence and Personal Safety (Guidance: Social Science Research Council | 2016)0

Posted by Admin in on June 10, 2018

Social Science Research Council | Working Papers

“Over the last generation, activists, journalists, and researchers working in Latin America have increasingly faced the challenge of operating in areas affected by chronic police and non-state violence. Further, rising crime rates are leading a growing number of scholars to conduct research on high-risk topics, which involves gathering data on communities that experience conflict, writing and publishing on these difficult and sensitive issues, and developing and implementing programs to deal with the needs of communities affected by violence as well as the wider conflicts in which those communities are embedded. Despite these trends, the literature on safe practices for those working in high-risk environments remains thin. The DSD Working Papers on Research Security series seeks to address this deficit by examining a range of research security concerns, providing a framework to help those working in the region consider how they can enhance their own safety as well as the safety of their associates and research participants.”

Goldstein, D. (2016) Qualitative Research in Dangerous Places: Becoming an ‘Ethnographer’ of Violence and Personal Safety. Brooklyn, NY: Social Science Research Council.
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