Research Ethics, Power and Vulnerability
Researchers should comply with the legal and ethical requirements existing at home and in the countries where the research is conducted. The International Compilation of Human Research Standards of the US government’s Office for Human Research Protections provides an overview of relevant laws and clearance proceedings. This document is updated every year.
The complexity of an issue can give rise to multiple questions about proper behaviour that need to be assessed in context. Unanticipated ethical dilemmas are common in socio-legal research. Leiden Law researchers have worked in courtrooms, prisons, sharia courts and refugee settlements. Just by entering these arenas they may influence the course of events. Most researchers advocate for objectivity. But, some researchers insist that neutrality in situations of injustice is unethical.
You need to be able to think on your feet when faced with such an ethical dilemma. Therefore, you need to be well prepared. Consult various guidelines on ethics to consider any possible ethical ramifications prior to entering the field. While you’re at it, also read the information on informed consent, personal security, privacy and data security in these guidelines.
US Government (Office for Human Research Protections Department of Health and Human Services) (2018) The International Compilation of Human Research.
Choudhuri, D.D. (2005). Conducting Culturally Sensitive Qualitatitve Research. In M.G. Constantine and D.W. Sue (Eds), Strategies for Building Multicultural Competence in Mental Health and Educational Settings, pp. 269-284 Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons.
Guillemin, M., Gillam, L., Rosenthal, D., and Bolitho, A. (2012). Human Research Ethics Committees: Examining their Roles and Practices. Journal of Empirical Research on Human Rights Ethics, 7(3).
Huisman, K. (2008). “Does This Mean You’re Not Going to Come Visit Me Anymore?”: An Inquiry into an Ethics of Reciprocity and Positionality in Feminist Ethnographic Research. Sociological Inquiry 78 (3), 372-396.
Mack, N., Woodsong, C., MacQueen, K., Guest, G., and Namey, E. (2005). Qualitative Research Methods: a Data Collector's Field Guide. Family Health Inernational 2005.
Smith, L.T. (2013). Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples. London: Zed Books.