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Session and Workshop Abstracts

Session 3D (S3D) - Abstracts

Ethics across the research process - researcher perspectives

Paper 1: Language decisions as ethical dilemmas at all stages of research

Speaker(s): Gabriela Meier

Keywords:  language, multilingualism, ethics, research


AbstractMany academics will be familiar with the situation of working in an English-dominated research culture but are collecting data in different languages and generate findings and recommendations that are potentially useful for societies in non-English dominant or linguistically diverse contexts. In this talk, I will talk about the outcomes of a recent asynchronous online study phase hosted by the University of Exeter. This took place in the framework of ENROPE (an Erasmus+ project 2019-2021, co-funded by the European Union), in which the University of Exeter has been a partner. This had the aim to reflect on and discuss challenges related to research processes, specifically from a language perspective. The cohort consisted of a group of 64 researchers from different countries with diverse language backgrounds who were at different stages in their academic careers. The outcomes of our online-discussions showed that language decisions researchers inevitably have to make in their research journey had ethical implications at all levels of research: Literature review, data collection, analysis, writing up and dissemination. In this talk I will offer insights into our online discussions, point to some tools that have been developed during the project that help researchers reflect on language-related ethical dilemmas. One of the participants concluded that they plan to review their ethics criteria based on the discussions that took place during this online study phase. This leads me to open a discussion with colleagues as to how language decisions are discussed and considered as ethical dilemmas in our respective institutions.


Paper 2: Moral imagination as a way of resolving ethical dilemmas in qualitative social research

Speaker(s): Adrianna Surmiak

Keywords: moral imagination; ethical dilemmas; qualitative social research; qualitative research ethics; Polish researchers

Abstract: Despite the increasing formalisation of research ethics, ethical dilemmas are not diminishing, as evidenced by the growing literature on them. In the literature one can often come across opinions that in solving ethical dilemmas researchers can be helped by being more reflexive. Reflexivity is understood as a continuous process of critical analysis of the research situation, one's own behaviour, feelings, values and the salience of demographic and personality traits and how these affect the research process (especially the acquired knowledge) and the people involved in it. However, in presentation I point out that reflexivity is a key and necessary but not sufficient condition for solving ethical dilemmas and problems in qualitative social research. Researchers also need a moral imagination, which following Patricia Werhane I define as the ability to imagine different points of view on a given situation, different options for action and their consequences, as well as evaluating possibilities (Werhane's, 1999; Werhane & Moriarty, 2009).


The  aim  of  my  presentation is  to  show  how Patricia H. Werhane's  concept  of moral imagination designed for business ethics can be adapted for addressing ethical dilemmas in social qualitative research. The paper draws on in-depth interviews with 56 Polish social researchers. The interviews generally focused on the researchers’ experiences and opinions about the ethical practices and dilemmas in qualitative research with vulnerable participants. Referring to specific examples from research practice, I analyse the possibilities of using moral imagination in solving ethical dilemmas. "


Paper 3: Is embedded research (more) ethical?

Speaker(s): Léna Prouchet

Keywords: ethics, embedded research, Non-Governmental Organisation, conservation, knowledge co-production


Abstract: Humanity is currently faced with a variety of crises, including, but not limited to, global warming and biodiversity loss. In this context, it has been argued that knowledge production should be more “demand-driven” (Barnes and Van Laerhoven, 2014:11). Academic researchers should primarily seek to support practitioners from public, private, and third sectors, and provide them with useful data and recommendations that can contribute to addressing the current challenges we are confronted with. To achieve this goal, embedded research has gained increased attention in recent years as it can be a powerful “action-oriented tool” (Lewis and Russell, 2011: 413). In this approach, although the researchers are not directly employed by the organisation they are investigating, they are “some kind of team members” (Reiter-Theil, 2004: 23). While embeddedness allows creating trust and rapport with participants, it also raises crucial ethical questions, related, for instance, to the researchers' critical distance (Rowley, 2014). 


Therefore, in our paper, we ask: What are the ethical challenges and benefits of the embedded positionality? What are the strategies that can be developed to minimise ethical issues? The topic of embedded research and its ethical implications have received little attention in the academic conservation literature. This paper aims to address this gap since this approach has been presented as a means to “increase the impact and policy relevance of conservation research” (Jenkins et al, 2012: 740). The presentation introduces a research project founded on a collaboration between a doctoral researcher and a conservation charity. It details the iterative process of creating research and work relationships between the student and the host organisation. Furthermore, by reflecting on the definition and the underlying concepts of ‘ethical research’, it is argued that, despite the ethical questioning inherent to its nature, this approach can be a more ethical way of doing research. Finally, we present some guidelines that can support the development of such partnerships while minimising ethical concerns. 

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