All research raises questions about ethics: about the rigour, responsibility and respect of the practices of researchers. As a result, there are strict systems in place to encourage and enforce ethical practice.
However, some kinds of research create specific challenges, which may not be adequately addressed by institutional frameworks for ethical conduct in research. This is particularly the case with participatory research, where the boundaries between researchers and ‘research subjects’ begin to blur.
There is a host of issues that need to be carefully negotiated in this kind of research, including the ways power and control are negotiated, how people’s very personal experiences are shared and made public, and how the different needs and expectations of the participants are balanced in the design of the research process. When the research is closely related to people’s everyday lives these issues become more significant. In what we call ‘community-based participatory research,’ that is research that is grounded in the lived experiences of communities, there can be significant challenges to ensure such research is ethically sound. Yet, there is some extraordinary research practice in this area, which reveals profound insights into people’s lives.
This guide focuses on the lessons learned by people working intensively in this area- and provides a useful resource for anyone interested in developing more participatory approaches to their research.

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Authors: Sarah Banks, Paul Manners
Publication year: 2012
Language: English (EN)
Level of knowledge: Introductory: no previous knowledge is required
Usage rights: All rights belong to the authors