Feminist Research Ethics

Feminist Research Ethics

2. What are Research Ethics?

Ethics are guidelines, rules or principles that relate to the conduct of people.

For a general introduction to the concept of ethics, watch a video from the University of Texas ‘Ethics Unwrapped’ series .

Research ethics applies to the conduct of the entire research process from conceptualization, to research in the field, to the analysis, writing and dissemination of research results. The function of research ethics is to protect research participants and researchers from harm, and ensure the integrity and quality of the research process and outputs.

There are different principles of research ethics that apply to different types of research. Research ethics has a particularly important role to play in the conduct of research involving human beings.

There are different approaches to research ethics. These include:

  • a rule-based or principle-based approach that enables researchers to adapt a pre-existing set of ethical principles to meet ethical challenges and dilemmas in their research project, and
  • a ‘situated and emergent ethics’ approach, which emphasizes “that ethical practices cannot be fully determined a priori, for they are context specific and require a sensitive appraisal of local circumstances and sensibilities” (Neale and Hanna 2012, p. 2).

A combination of these approaches may be necessary to meet the various challenges encountered in the research process.