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Session and Workshop Abstracts

Workshop 1A (W1A) - Abstracts

Risk and Responsibility: ethical considerations within engaged research

Hosted by: Veronica Heney, Charlotte Jones and Lorraine Hansford

Keywords:  Engaged research, co-production, payment, risk, relationships, collaboration


Abstract: Engaged research is an approach akin to co-production, participatory research, and public involvement, which seeks to critically address the traditional relationship between the ‘researcher’ and ‘research participants’, considering the impact of power on modes of knowledge production, and seeking greater equality and collaboration in planning, conducting, and benefiting from research. Engaged research is often conducted with people who in the past have been marginalised or excluded from public health research, with the explicit aim of addressing these harms and exclusions. Engaged research is thus an approach which seeks to place ethics at the heart of research practice: nevertheless it raises many ethical quandaries and often sits uncomfortably with current modes of ‘doing’ and ‘assessing’ Ethics in universities. 

This experiential and action-oriented workshop aims to address the ethical issues raised by practices of engaged research, drawing together our own expertise and facilitating opportunities for participants to share knowledge and think collectively. Each of the three facilitators will speak briefly about ethical concerns in their own practices of engaged research. VH works on cultural representations of self-harm as understood by people with experience of self-harm, CJ’s reflections will be grounded in her collaboration on reproductive support for people with variations of sex characterstics (VSC/Is). LH will draw on research within low-income communities looking at mental health and experiences of end of life and bereavement. 

We will collectively discuss three areas of particular interest: first, issues of payment and other practicalities including anonymity and authorship in which engaged research might diverge from standard practice. Second, the common ethical frameworks of risk and vulnerability and the ways in which engaged research might problematise or disrupt them. Third, the ways in which engaged research practices blur or shift expected roles and relationships, and how to navigate that change in an ethical way. 

The workshop will then turn to group work, in which participants will be invited to discuss key issues or questions raised in the introductory presentations. The groups will then be led through activities to encourage the sharing of experience and expertise and collaborative working towards potential solutions or recommendations. This section will facilitate mutual support and solution-building, balancing the desire for nuanced, sensitive discussion with the practical need for tangible actions and helpful approaches, and allowing for dialogue and the emergence of a community of practice around this vital theme. 

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