The ethical regulation of social research in the UK has been steadily increasing over the last decade or so and comprises a form of audit to which all researchers in Higher Education are subject. Concerns have been raised by social researchers using visual methods that such ethical scrutiny and regulation will place severe limitations on visual research developments and practice. This paper draws on a qualitative study of social researchers using visual methods in the UK. The study explored their views, the challenges they face and the practices they adopt in relation to processes of ethical review. Researchers reflected on the variety of strategies they adopted for managing the ethical approval process in relation to visual research. For some this meant explicitly ‘making the case’ for undertaking visual research, notwithstanding the ethical challenges, while for others it involved ‘normalising’ visual methods in ways which delimited the possible ethical dilemmas of visual approaches. Researchers only rarely identified significant barriers to conducting visual research from ethical approval processes, though skilful negotiation and actively managing the system was often required. Nevertheless, the climate of increasing ethical regulation is identified as having a potential detrimental effect on visual research practice and development, in some instances leading to subtle but significant self-censorship in the dissemination of findings.
Keywords: Visual Research; Visual Methods; Ethics Committees; Ethical Regulation; Research Governance; Qualitative Methods
Wiles R, Coffey A, Robison J and Prosser J (2012) Ethical Regulation and Visual Methods: Making Visual Research Impossible or Developing Good Practice? Sociological Research Online. 17(1)8 http://www.socresonline.org.uk/17/1/8.html
Research Gate: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/227599406_Ethical_Regulation_and_Visual…