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ResourcesHuman Research EthicsThe perils of fieldwork in authoritarian states – University World News (Yojana Sharma | September 2018)

Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

The perils of fieldwork in authoritarian states – University World News (Yojana Sharma | September 2018)

 


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Doctoral students and researchers in the social and political sciences need more training to deal with the perils of fieldwork in authoritarian states in Southeast Asia, according to two experts on the region.

Before early career researchers (including overseas HDR candidates visiting their ‘home’ country) travel to an authoritarian state to conduct research, is there sufficient attention to professional development/capacity building with regard to the perils? This is a question for heads of area, mentors and supervisors, but could be usefully reconfirmed by research ethics review bodies. We have included links to trove of related items.

They note that existing “one size fits all” recommendations on field research “presume the setting to be liberal democratic regimes” rather than the less accessible or less secure and transparent authoritarian regimes prevalent in the region.
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“The discipline of political science is poorly positioned to guide its own scholars on the best way to perform field research in countries lacking guarantees for norms of speech, movement and scholarship,” say Meredith Weiss, associate professor of political science at the State University of New York at Albany in the United States, and Lee Morgenbesser, a lecturer in comparative politics at Griffith University in Australia, in a just-published paper that draws on their own and other academics’ experiences of working in such countries.
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“The implications of this lacuna are acute in Southeast Asia,” where nine out of 11 countries are classified as having authoritarian regimes, they say in their paper published in the Asian Studies Review entitled “Survive and Thrive: Field research in authoritarian Southeast Asia”.
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