Ethics of Research

The CCREC Ethics Project interrogates the challenges that EOCCBR methodologies surface regarding the core principles of research ethics. Our research demonstrates how both the theories and practices guiding EOCCBR trouble institutionalized research ethics – informed consent, anonymity, and confidentiality – as well as the traditional boundaries between ethics and epistemology. Similarly, our studies open up the ethical complexities of traditional university commitments to disinterested research and neutrality in the public sphere.

A wide range of scholars have noted that the questions posed by EOCCBR cannot be adequately addressed within the existing conceptions or practices of formalized and institutionalized research ethics. The frameworks, motivations, and practices of these research approaches recast the traditional foundations of research ethics in ways that necessitate a rethinking of the ethics of research altogether.

These questions and challenges have become urgent in recent years as these methodologies become more broadly adopted across many disciplines and fields, and as a wide range of other ethical matters concerning higher education have been pressed into the public agenda, from theoretical debates in the research disciplines to national debates surrounding revisions to the Common Rule, academic freedom, and free speech.

The CCREC Ethics Project seeks to provide clarity and guidance on these fraught and complex issues to engaged scholars and their community partners, as well as to research administrators, funders, and professional associations.

Why Ethics as Praxis?

The Ethics of Research: A Praxis for Engaged Scholars (forthcoming, SAGE publications) frames research as continually animated by the ethical rather than temporally bracketed at the start of a research project and the securing of consent, or at the finish upon the completion of data collection, analysis, interpretation, or even publication. We believe that the ethics of research exceeds any set of procedures or best practices checklist and any effort to wholly qualify a research project as “ethical” because the ethical permeates the practices of knowledge production and must be taken up iteratively at the quotidian level of relationships as well as the theoretical level of representations.

We urge engaged scholars take up ethics as a praxis that begins by getting situated in the social context and histories that inform their work, and by embracing the interconnections of their relationships, research and otherwise. Positioning oneself in place and time, in relation to other human and non-human beings, opens up critical ethical perspectives on the research questions we ask and the knowledge we aim to produce.

We approach ethicality not as a fixed destination, not as a state of certainty, nor a position of moral righteousness, but rather as a mode of action and being, an embodied process taken up within communities and communities of practice. We urge engaged scholars to embrace the complexities and uncertainties of ethicality as ways to deepen practices of responsibility and accountability in their research.

We explore how the ethical animates the where and when (place and time), who (relationality), what (knowledge), and the why and how (purpose and practice) of their work.

We offer frameworks, cases, and question sets to build the readers’ capacities to sustain attentive ethical engagements as they move in and through their research and collaborations.