Becoming Teacher 08: changing identities within ethnographic inquiry – reflecting on the rules of ethical clearance.
International Journal of Research and Method in Education, 32, (2)
Managing the complexities of a naturalistic research position in ethnographic work alongside a need for declaring the ethics of the research to all involved in it can be a high demand on the novice researcher. Consulting protocols from the wider academic arena, such as national Research Association Ethical Guidelines, is clearly a starting point but as joined with some of the unpredictabilities of ethnography, holding true to the declared ethical protocols of the research can seem difficult as the context, participants and research questions shift and slide across the course of the study. This paper explores the tensions involved in an increasingly declarative arena of research ethics and the methods of ethnographic inquiry and draws on one specific incident in my own study where my identity was changed outside of myself occasioning an ethical crisis whilst in the field. Using this account I explore the need to extend research training programmes for doctoral students to provide space to develop dynamic ethics procedures suited to working with ethnographic methods. I argue for a need to have ethical protocols that satisfy the participants, the regulators and the research community but can also operate as support to the guilt-ridden researcher self.
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