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University ethics committees and qualitative health researchers are bumping heads: the one-size-fits-all requirements of ethics committees are not perceived as understandable, let alone ethical, by some participants and their rigidity can encourage exploitation; the bioethical values underpinning these requirements clash with the efforts of cross-cultural researchers to acknowledge participant values; and ethics committees are struggling to stay abreast of rapidly evolving qualitative methodologies around participatory approaches, artistic methods and scholar activism.
These tensions are happening alongside an increased focus on reflexivity as a marker of quality in qualitative health research, and a push back against victimising participant framings. Qualitative health researchers are on a journey to becoming more reflective, ethical and supportive researchers, but are university ethics committees a bureaucratic roadblock? Do we need ethics committees any more or are researchers better served seeking guidance from institutions in participant communities, negotiation with potential participants, and training on power and privilege? This seminar attempts to tackle this question, drawing on the work and findings of the interdisciplinary group, Inspiring Ethics.
Sohail Jannesari is a post-doctoral researcher at King’s College London. He current work looks at outcomes for survivors of trafficking, using e-Delphi methods, and he has previously looked at how researchers should work with migrants, migrant communities, and migrant organisations in an equitable and non-exploitative way, conducting an ethnography of participatory action research projects. Sohail brought together the interdisciplinary group, Inspiring Ethics.
Inspiring Ethics is a group of academics who want to reshape ethical relations in community based research, and change the bioethical model of university ethics. They include people from the Qualitative Applied Health Research Centre, Centre for Society and Mental Health, and the Mental Health and Society Group at King’s College London. Beyond academics, they are also people from migrant backgrounds, service users, activists, charity volunteers and more.
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