Research Ethics in a New Era
January 12th, 2024
12:30 p.m. - 4:50 p.m. (EST)
Dr. Lea Sgier
Senior Lecturer, Qualitative Methodology, Political Science Department, University of Geneva
This workshop is structured in two parts. The first part provides an overview of key issues of social science research ethics, illustrated with (selected) real-life examples from both quantitative and qualitative research, using conventional research methods (such as surveys or interviews) as well as newer methods (such as tracking technologies or virtual reality). By the end of this part, the participants should have an understanding of why research ethics matters, what its key principles are, what dilemmas commonly arise in research including core principles such as informed consent, anonymisation, confidentiality, harm limitation to participants and research collaborators, conflicts of interest, or research integrity. Selected examples will help us understand why black-and-white thinking is rarely helpful in research ethics, and why it may be more fruitful to think of research ethics as a matter of trade-offs (between conflicting ethical principles; between research ethics and public interest in knowledge production; or between gradations of the same principles, in particular informed consent). We will also briefly discuss how research ethics translates to contexts outside the western world, for instance to conflict regions or authoritarian contexts.
The second part is devoted to formal research ethics procedures that are routinely part of academic life nowadays, as part of grant approvals or PhD proposal approval for instance. Ethics reviews are often experienced as burdensome and frustrating by researchers – partly because of the increasing bureaucratisation of ethics review procedures; but partly also because many researchers fail to understand what kinds of information research ethics committees need to be able to efficiently assess their proposal. Real life examples of the life of an institutional ethics board should help the participants to get a clearer picture of how to prepare for ethics review, and how to handle foreseeably delicate points (for example: how to convince an ethics board that, in a particular context, requesting written consent may be neither feasible nor ethically sound).
Audience & Prerequisites
This workshop is open to all participants with a general interest in research ethics, as well as to participants who have a specific need to better understand specific points of research ethics or research ethics procedures (maybe because they must undergo an ethics review in the near future, or because they have received negative ethics reviews).
Participants are advised to read the following documents before attending the workshop:
Clark, T. (2008). 'We’re Over-Researched Here!': Exploring Accounts of Research Fatigue within Qualitative Research Engagements. Sociology, 42(5), 953-970. https://doi.org/10.1177/0038038508094573
Fujii, Lee Anne (2012). Research Ethics 101: Dilemmas and Responsibilities. PS: Political Science & Politics, 45(4), 717-723. doi:10.1017/S1049096512000819
Millum, Joseph, and Danielle Bromwich, 'Respect for Persons', in Ana S. Iltis, and Douglas MacKay (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Research Ethics (online edn, Oxford Academic, 8 Oct. 2020), https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780190947750.013.12, accessed 1 Dec. 2023.