International research
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INTERNATIONAL RESEARCH. What are the ethical challenges? Richard Jenkins University of Sheffield. WHAT IS INTERNATIONAL RESEARCH?. There are at least three distinct types of non-medical international research involving human participants and personal data…

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INTERNATIONAL RESEARCH

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International research

INTERNATIONAL RESEARCH

What are the ethical challenges?

Richard Jenkins

University of Sheffield


What is international research

WHAT IS INTERNATIONAL RESEARCH?

There are at least three distinct types of non-medical international research involving human participants and personal data…

Research based in the UK but using already existing, secondary data from and about elsewhere.

Comparative collaborative research with colleagues outside the UK, where they collect their national data and you collect your (UK) data.

Research carried out by a UK-based researcher that involves data collection outside the UK.


Research based in the uk but using already existing secondary data from and about elsewhere

RESEARCH BASED IN THE UK BUT USING ALREADY EXISTING, SECONDARY DATA FROM AND ABOUT ELSEWHERE.

Here one needs to be certain that the data were gathered in a manner that:

satisfied any in-country legal and ethical requirements;

satisfies the University’s Research Ethics Policy;

and, if relevant,

satisfies any appropriate professional ethical requirements (publication etc.).

The challenge may be how to do this…


Detailed documentation about

DETAILED DOCUMENTATION ABOUT…

  • Local in-country legal and research ethical requirements.

  • The source(s) of the data, the data collection procedures involved, the consent forms, etc.

  • Proper translation is required, and a paper trail.

  • Exemptions?

  • Data collected before local and/or UK ethical requirements were formulated.

  • BUT…common sense, caution and judgment are still required when dealing with historical data of this kind.


International research

COMPARATIVE COLLABORATIVE RESEARCH WITH COLLEAGUES OUTSIDE THE UK, WHERE THEY COLLECT THEIR NATIONAL DATA AND YOU COLLECT YOUR (UK) DATA.

The same ethical requirements are present:

satisfaction of in-country legal and ethical requirements;

satisfaction of the University’s Research Ethics Policy (particularly if Sheffield is the lead institution);

and, if relevant,

satisfaction of professional ethical requirements (publication etc.).


Collaboration involves trust

COLLABORATION INVOLVES TRUST….

  • In the first place, if you don’t trust them, don’t collaborate with them.

  • Not all jurisdictions or HE systems have research ethical requirements for non-medical research with human participants, or legal frameworks dealing with personal data.

  • The crucial matter is to ensure that data protection and research ethical considerations are involved in project discussions from the very outset, before funding is sought, and that proper procedures for obtaining consent etc. are built into the research design.

  • Your own elements of any international collaborative research must satisfy the University research ethics requirements, and be approved accordingly.


Research carried out by a uk based researcher that involves data collection outside the uk

RESEARCH CARRIED OUT BY A UK-BASED RESEARCHER THAT INVOLVES DATA COLLECTION OUTSIDE THE UK.

Once again…

in-country legal and research ethical requirements;

the University’s Research Ethics Policy;

and

professional ethical requirements.

What are the challenges?


Responsibility for what and to whom

RESPONSIBILITY…FOR WHAT, AND TO WHOM?

  • You are responsible for ensuring that the requirements outlined on the previous slide are met;

  • and for the day-to-day conduct of the research: data collection, relationships with locals, etc.

  • You are responsible to your research subjects;

  • to local communities and officialdom;

  • to the host institution if there is one;

  • and to everyone to whom you’re normally responsible in the UK.


It looks like there are extra layers of responsibility but are there really

IT LOOKS LIKE THERE ARE EXTRA LAYERS OF RESPONSIBILITY… BUT ARE THERE, REALLY?

  • Responsibility for obtaining proper ethics approval.

  • Responsibility for legal compliance.

  • Responsibility for personal and institutional reputation.

  • Responsibility for the management and conduct of research.

  • Responsibility to research subjects.

    The situation may be more complex, but the responsibilities, with respect to research ethics, are essentially the same.


Does doing research outside the uk pose any special ethical challenges

DOES DOING RESEARCH OUTSIDE THE UK POSE ANY SPECIAL ETHICAL CHALLENGES?

YES

and

NO


International research

YES

  • National law and other regulation.

  • Everyday mutual understanding: language, interpersonal etiquette, local norms and rules, tacit ways of doing things, and so on…

  • Presentation of self: gender, status, sexuality, and other aspects of identity.

  • Notions of privacy.

  • Problems in anticipating consequences of actions.

  • Different institutional and bureaucratic procedures and demands.

    In one word: CULTURE


International research

NO

  • Many if not all of the factors mentioned on the previous slide apply ‘at home’ as well: we live in a multi-ethnic and otherwise culturally diverse society and issues of these kinds may come up.

  • In fact, since these issues are likely to be more obvious when working outside the UK, it may well be that in these respects working ‘at home’ is more problematic than working ‘away’.


Ethical challenges of international research

ETHICAL CHALLENGES OF INTERNATIONAL RESEARCH

Doing research involving human participants and personal data anywhere poses ethical challenges, and those ethical challenges are pretty universal.

While we should be sensitive to local norms and conditions, we need to maintain our own standards of behaviour.

Doing research outside the UK doesn’t mean that we cease to be governed by UK data protection law - because we use the data within the UK - or the University’s Research Ethics Policy.


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