Research Ethics MonthlyISSN 2206-2483

Senior ConsultantsMartin Tolich
Martin Tolich

Martin Tolich

Associate Professor, Sociology, University of Otago, New Zealand


Martin has been involved in research ethics ever since graduating with a PhD. from the University of California, Davis in 1992 and taking up employment at Massey University in Palmerston North. He served on the Massey University Human ethics committee as its deputy chair for five years before joining the Manawatu-Whanganui Health and Disability ethics committee in 2002. In 2004 when this committee disestablished he was appointed ethicist and inaugural chair of the Multi-region health and disability ethics committee where he served until 2009. Since then Martin recognised a hole in the New Zealand ethics landscape and founded the New Zealand Ethics Committee, a not-for-profit independent ethics committee, serving any researcher not eligible for health or institutional ethics review. In New Zealand many research projects from professional, community and government researchers fall outside this narrow realm of health or university based research.

Martin has written extensively on research ethics with a particular emphasis on ethical issues of qualitative research methodologies such as focus groups and auto ethnography. Martin has authored and co-authored numerous books on Research Methods and Research Ethics for publishers Pearson and Oxford University Press. His latest book Planning Ethically Responsible Research (2013) Sage was co-authored with Joan Sieber.

In 2012 Martin was awarded a blue-skies three year Marsden Grant from the Royal Society of New Zealand to study tensions around ethics review and indigenous (Maori) Consultation. This project is ongoing.

Martin was born in New Zealand and his first degrees were from Auckland University. He now lives in Dunedin.


The Ministry of Social Development commissioned Martin to write a report on data sharing in 2007 entitled “Challenges, Risks and Solutions for Administrative Data and Researcher Sourced Data” More recently the Ministry of Social Development are the main sponsors of the New Zealand Ethics Committee. Along with Mark Israel, Martin was one of the drafters of New Brunswick Declaration, A Declaration on Research Ethics, Integrity and Governance resulting from the 1st Ethics Rupture Summit, Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada. Over the years Martin has provided expert advice to various ethics committees.


    • Qualitative research methods
    • Research ethics committee training



Sieber, Joan and Martin Tolich (November 2013) Planning Ethically Responsible Research Sage, Thousand Oaks.

Tolich Martin and Carl Davidson (2011) Getting Started: An Introduction to Research Methods Pearson Education, Auckland.

Davidson, Carl and Martin Tolich (eds.) (1999, 2003) Social Science Research in New Zealand Pearson Education, Auckland

Tolich, Martin (ed.) (2001) Research Ethics in New Zealand Longman.

Tolich, Martin and Carl Davidson (1999) Starting Fieldwork: an introduction to Qualitative Research in New Zealand Oxford University Press, Auckland.

Articles in Refereed Journals

Sieber, J & Tolich, M. (2012) Research Ethics and Research Governance Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics, 7(2), 1-2.

Tolich, M. E. Tumilty (2013) The Ethics Application Repository: Proof of Concept Qualitative Research

Tolich, Martin (2010) A critique of current practice: Ten foundational guidelines for autoethnographers Qualitative Health Research 20:12: 1599-1610 doi: 10.1177/1049732310376076

Pope, Clive, Rosemary DeLuca and Martin Tolich, (2010) How an exchange of perspectives led to tentative ethical guidelines Journal of Research and Method in Education

Martin Tolich (2010) Empowering the Guinea Pigs:What if IRBs treated healthy volunteers in clinical trials as their clients? Australian Medical Journal 3:12

Tolich, Martin and Jonas Hapuka (2009) “Number-eight wire ethics: A New Zealand ethics committee’s response to lengthy international clinical trial information sheets” New Zealand Medical Journal 122:1293

Tolich, Martin (2008) “Caveat Emptor (let the participant beware): Confidentiality and Informed Consent are Endemic Ethical Dilemmas in Focus Group Research” Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 6: 1; 99-108

Tolich Martin (2008) “Guidelines for community-based ethics review of children’s science fair projects” Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 5:4:3 03-310

Tolich, M and M Fitzgerald (2006) “If Ethics Committees Were Designed For Ethnography” Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics 1.2: 71-78.

Martin Tolich and Kate Baldwin (2005) “Unequal Protection for Patient Rights: The Divide between University and Health Ethics Committees” Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 2:1

Martin Tolich and Kate Baldwin (2005) “Informing Consent in New Zealand Research: Researcher’s Conflict of Interest and Patient Vulnerability” New Zealand Medical Journal 118: 1210

Martin Tolich (2004) “Internal Confidentiality: When Confidentiality Assurances Fail Relational Informants Qualitative Sociology 27: 101-106

Martin Tolich (2003) “Ethics Inconsistencies between Cognate Organizations” Australian Journal of Professional and Applied Ethics 2: 11-24

Martin Tolich (2002) “Pakeha Paralysis: Cultural Safety for those researching the general Population of Aotearoa” Social Policy Journal of New Zealand 19: 164-178

Martin Tolich and Carl Davidson (1999) “Observing Ethics: Ethnography Beyond Cartwright” New Zealand Journal of Sociology 14 (1): 61-84