A part of any researchers task is to consider and abide by a code of ethics. Within sociology a statement of ethical practise from the British Sociological Association forms a guide that researchers can refer to when making decisions about how to proceed with research. When choosing relevant methodology there is many ethical considerations to consider, some of which can cause conflict with each other. Summarised in brief below are the types of considerations I have or will take in to account when completing my research.
Completing interviews I need to consider:
Any possible negative impacts of interviewing on my interview subject.
The impact of my overall research project.
That I have a duty to safeguard the subjects of my research or those who are affercted by it.
That all findings are truthful and accurate.
All subjects are kept anonymous to enable safeguarding, and all data collected kept safe on a pass word protected computer.
All information is used for the purposes that it intended.
Subjects are given a comprehensive information sheet and informed consent is gained prior to interview.
Completing photo-ethnography I need to consider:
The legal implications of where I am photographing, no trespassing on private property etc.
Informed consent from anyone I photograph. (this is not always possible, so I dont include people in my pictures).
The health and safety of myself and any accompanying researchers (usually the other half!).
The level of risk involved for researchers.
Today I was completing an ethnography of the canal which I will write about later, and it was the legal implications of no trespassing which hindered my research. I happened to stumble upon a disused training centre for double glazing and conservatories.
This was a large compound that was fenced with the canal to the left, buildings at the back and security fenced and gated to the front. From all angles we could see in the distance masses of graffiti, it was absolutely covered! We were so near we could practically smell it! However, it was firmly fenced off. To enter this as a researcher would be trespass (reinforced by the warning security signs). I will attempt to gain permission from the security company, but I doubt I will have much success. This is one of the times that ethics and safety have got in the way. This is not a bad thing as they are set in place to protect all involved but it is really frustrating as I cannot record the graffiti true to the artist’s behaviour. So this was the day that ethics got in the way…
A copy of the full BSA statement of ethical practise can be found HERE
So near, yet so Far!