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Promises, Promises: Lessons in Research Ethics from the Belfast Project and ‘The Rape Tape’ Case (Papers: Kay Inckle 2015)

 


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Abstract
This paper draws on two social research projects which have made headline news in the Republic of Ireland since 2011: The Belfast Project which was conducted by ex-paramilitary researchers in Northern Ireland in conjunction with Boston College in the USA, alongside what the media dubbed as ‘The Rape Tape’ case involving a postgraduate student from Maynooth University in the Republic of Ireland. Considered together, these cases highlight contrasting approaches to ethics which have significant lessons for sociologists teaching and conducting ethical research. The cases illustrate how sociologists need to model nuanced yet robust approaches to ethics if we are to avoid causing harm to research participants and to produce students with solid ethical skills which they can utilise in a range of contexts. Such an approach combines ontological foundations with reflexive, context specific applications. The paper begins with an outline of the two cases based on documentary sources. The cases are then considered in the context ethical definitions and protocols from academic texts and professional sociological bodies across the three affected jurisdictions (UK, Ireland, USA) in order to reflect on the lessons and implications for sociologists in conducting and teaching ethical research.

Keywords: Research Ethics, Sensitive Research, the Belfast Project, the Rape Tape Case

Inckle K (2015) Promises, Promises: Lessons in Research Ethics from the Belfast Project and ‘The Rape Tape’ Case. Sociological Research Online, 20 (1), 6 DOI: 10.5153/sro.3570
Publisher: http://www.socresonline.org.uk/20/1/6.html



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