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In conversation with Dr Nicole Brown

Dr Nicole Brown is currently the Director of Social Research & Practice and Education Ltd, and an associate professor at University College London. She is currently the head of Research Ethics and Integrity at IOE, UCL's Faculty of Education and Society. She will be presenting a paper on Research ethics in a changing social sciences landscape.

1. Our theme for this year's conference is Re-framing Ethics. What do you understand about the theme as it relates to your work on Research Ethics?

For many researchers and institutions ethics is unfortunately about compliance and liability. To me, this operational understanding of ethics is worrisome, as it does not account for what ethics is/should be about, namely the relationships between researchers, participants, the research itself, and its users or stakeholders. Reframing ethics for me therefore means to reconsider existing practices and policies to enable researchers to do research ethically, pragmatically and in full awareness of the human elements involved.

2. Your abstract submission, 'Research Ethics in a changing social sciences landscape' touches upon how ethical processes can be adapted to fit this changing social landscape. Can you highlight how this can be achieved?

To achieve this, we need a massive culture change, so that independent or third-sector research is not considered as "not-so-important" or "less-than", whilst also recognising that ethics cannot be one-size-fits-all box-ticking exercise. In practical terms, this means to have a system in place that enables independent researchers and third-sector organisations to apply for ethics reviews. And to move away from a one-point ethics applications process towards a process that allows for relational ethics and ethics in practice to be discussed, reviewed, and approved throughout the entire research.

3. Any current work you are involved in that you may wish to share with our community? What does it entail?

I lead a Practice as Research network that aims to bring together the many different strands of practice-led or practice-based research across all disciplines so as to not be limited by disciplinary conventions, but instead to benefit from cross-disciplinary fertilisation. For the academic year 22/23 the focus of our seminar series was on ethics, and there are some fascinating talks available to watch on the Practice As Research website:

4. Where can people interact with you and follow your work?

My twitter handle: @ncjbrown

There is a contact form on my website:

Dr Nicole Brown

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