Ethics questions arising during fieldwork
Try as you might, it is (in our experience) almost impossible to predict all the difficulties and ethics dilemmas that might arise in a research study. However, you can prepare yourself:
- think about what might happen;
- what you might do and how you might respond; and
- who you might seek advice from in case of difficulties.
If you are working in a team, discuss this with everyone in your team. Otherwise, make a time to talk these things through with your line manager or supervisor (or failing that, with another experienced colleague).
You should read as much as you can about the ethics of research in your particular field when preparing your research ethics application, and it’s a good idea to refer back to this as you prepare to start your fieldwork. There is now a good body of work that discusses research ethics that arise in the process of conducting research in various settings, as well as general texts on ethics in social science research. See our suggested reading list.