Autobiographical Notes from Inside the Ethics Regime: Some Thoughts on How Researchers in the Social Sciences Can Own Ethics

Will Carl van den Hoonaard


The medical model of research ethics codes operates from a privileged perspective. The reaction of social researchers spans the broad spectrum, from deference to rebellion. In this contribution, I explore an approach that would yield a move away from adversarial relationships that have come to characterize the discourse between the upholders of the medically framed research ethics codes and those who see no relevance in those codes in terms of their own research. The path away from this adversarial approach is to maintain the institutionalized ethics codes for medical research, but to insist that researchers in the social sciences use their own well-established disciplinary codes for conducting ethical research. Once we have moved away from this adversarial relationship, researchers in the social sciences will have no need to "other" themselves in research ethics review; they can now own their own ethics in research. These views represent my autobiographical reflections from my position as a founding-member of Canada's Panel on Research Ethics as a qualitative sociologist with extensive experience who has participated in the debate since 2001.


ethics codes; medical ethics; social-science ethics

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Copyright (c) 2018 Will Carl van den Hoonaard

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