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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

What are Qualitative Research Ethics? (Books: R Wiles, 2013)0

Posted by Admin in on November 14, 2015

“There has been an increasing interest in research ethics over the last decade given the increasing ethical regulation of social research. ‘Ethical literacy’ encourages researchers to understand and engage with the ethical issues that emerge in the process of research. This book provides a short, succinct and accessible overview of the field, highlighting the key issues and everyday ethical dilemmas that researchers are likely to face in different contexts. Covering a range of methods, the book provides clear guidance for researchers on how to identify an approach that fits with their moral and intellectual framework. It explores ethical issues relating to ‘traditional’ research methods as well as to new and emerging methods and approaches – particularly visual and online methods.

Illustrated throughout with real-world examples, this book also includes an annotated bibliography of key texts and other helpful resources. What are Qualitative Research Ethics? will be a vital resource for social science researchers across a range of disciplines.”

Wiles, R. (2013). What are Qualitative Research Ethics? (The ‘What is?’ Research Methods Series). London: Bloomsbury Academic. Retrieved November 14, 2015, from
(Available free – Open Access)

Deregulating Social Science Research Ethics – Clipping the Wings of IRBs? – Social Science Space (Robert Dingwall 2015)0

Posted by Admin in on November 6, 2015

“The Federal Register is surely not everybody’s bedtime reading. It is where the US Government formally publishes certain official documents, including advance notice of its intention to make rules that implement Executive policies. For social science researchers, one of the most important of these has long been the so-called Common Rule, introduced in 1981 and revised in 1991. This is the legal basis for the whole system of US ethical regulation through Institutional Review Boards. Although nominally confined to US institutions, it has had a much wider reach, since any country involved in scientific collaboration with US scholars has had to adopt a similar regulatory model. The new revisions to the Common Rule, described in a ‘notice of proposed rulemaking’ published in September 2015, are, then, likely to have global implications.

In practice, the present regime’s international impact has been uneven in the social sciences, because few institutions have relevant collaborative relationships with US researchers. Major European countries like France, Italy and Germany have seen very limited regulatory developments, mainly in their health sectors and in a few elite institutions open to US influence. The UK, Ireland and the Nordic countries have, however, been strongly affected by the US model. The extensive deregulation of social science research anticipated by the notice is, then, as much a challenge to their regulators as to those in the USA.

The implementation of the Common Rule has been increasingly criticized. As the history of ethical regulation has become better understood, its origins are seen to lie less in a desire to protect human subjects than to transfer litigation risk from the Federal government to universities and to defuse a political panic over accounts of historic biomedical research misdemeanors – some of which look less scandalous when properly contextualized. The system has been widely criticized, as much by biomedical scientists as by social scientists, for its costs, complexity, and conservatism. Many critics claim that it has created a self-serving bureaucracy and facilitated institutional practices that have less to do with ethics than with liability and reputation management. Its brakes on biomedical innovation have measurable costs in lives lost. There are less measurable costs in the systematic ignorance about social conditions created by the regulators’ resistance to qualitative methods that are difficult to control. Although attempts have been made at Federal level to press IRBs to be more accepting of flexible and emergent research methods and designs, these have had only a limited impact.”

Read the full blog post.
Also see subsequent post about the ‘push-back’ in response to the change.

Social Science Research Ethics for a Globalizing World: Interdisciplinary and Cross-Cultural Perspectives (Books: Keerty Nakray, Margaret Alston, Kerri Whittenbury)0

Posted by Admin in on October 31, 2015

“Research in the humanities and social sciences thrives on critical reflections that unfold with each research project, not only in terms of knowledge created, but in whether chosen methodologies served their purpose. Ethics forms the bulwark of any social science research methodology and it requires continuous engagement and reengagement for the greater advancement of knowledge. Each chapter in this book will draw from the empirical knowledge created through intensive fieldwork and provide an account of ethical questions faced by the contributors, placing them in the context of contemporary debates surrounding the theory and practice of ethics. The chapters have been thematically organized into five sections: Feminist Ethics: Cross-Cultural Reflections and Its Implications for Change; Researching Physical and Sexual Violence in Non-Academic Settings: A Need for Ethical Protocols; Human Agency, Reciprocity, Participation and Activism: Meanings for Social Science Research Ethics; Emotions, Conflict and Dangerous Fields: Issues of “Safety” and Reflective Research; and Social Science Education: Training in Ethics or “Ethical Training” and “Ethical Publicizing.” This inter-disciplinary volume will interest students and researchers in academic and non-academic settings in core disciplines of Anthropology, Sociology, Law, Political Science, International Relations, Geography, or inter-disciplinary degrees in Development Studies, Health Studies, Public Health Policy, Social Policy, Health Policy, Psychology, Peace and Conflict studies, and Gender Studies. The book features a foreword by His Holiness The Dalai Lama.”

Nakray, K., Alston, M., & Whittenbury, K. (2016). Social science research ethics for a globalizing world: interdisciplinary and cross-cultural perspectives. Routledge. URL

Ethical Quandaries in Social Research (Books: Deborah Posel and Fiona C Ross 2014)0

Posted by Admin in on October 22, 2015

“The book opens up a space of frank discussion about the often unsettling, messy realities of ethical decision-making in the thick of social research. All the contributors write in the first person about personal experiences of research. They expose tensions within professional codes of ethics, as well as a range of dilemmas that arose when personal ethical convictions jostled with disciplinary and institutional ethical imperatives. The book is unique in spanning a range of research scenarios, qualitative and quantitative, across different disciplines, fields of study and institutional settings. The book will be of interest to all social researchers – in universities, NGOs and other applied milieu – working in fields of research structured by hierarchies of difference and conditions of inequality.”

Deborah Posel and Fiona C Ross (2014)(eds) Ethical Quandaries in Social Research. Cape Town: HSRC Press.
Available as a free download from the HSRC website