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


  • Will Carl van den Hoonaard University of New Brunswick



ethics codes, medical ethics, social-science ethics


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.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biography

Will Carl van den Hoonaard, University of New Brunswick

Dr. Will C. van den HOONAARD, Professor Emeritus at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton, has conducted field research on a variety of topics, including Icelandic marine resource management, the Baha'i Community of Canada, the Dutch of New Brunswick, gender issues, inductive research, and a 700-year history of women mapmakers. Research ethics are the focus of six of his books. He is Founding Member of the Canadian Interagency Panel on Research Ethics. He was raised in the Netherlands, France, and Canada. A Woodrow Wilson Fellow, he obtained a PhD in sociology from the University of Manchester.




How to Cite

van den Hoonaard, W. C. (2018). Autobiographical Notes from Inside the Ethics Regime: Some Thoughts on How Researchers in the Social Sciences Can Own Ethics. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 19(3).



Research Ethics in Qualitative Research