"So the World Will Know Our Story": Ethical Reflections on Research with Families Displaced by War


  • Bree Akesson Wilfrid Laurier University http://orcid.org/0000-0001-6760-7198
  • David A. "Tony" Hoffman University of California Santa Cruz
  • Samia El Joueidi University of British Columbia
  • Dena Badawi University of Waterloo




confidentiality, displaced populations, ethics, families, forced migration, mixed methods research, qualitative research, refugees, war


In this article we examine the ethical implications of a qualitative research study exploring the everyday mobilities of Syrian families displaced in Lebanon. The multiple methods of data collection—collaborative family interviews, children's drawing and mapmaking, GIS-tracked neighborhood walks, and activity logging—encouraged children and family voices. At the same time, these methods provide an opportunity to explore family networks, relationships, and environments that are impacting their lives in the context of war and displacement. These methods, like all research with vulnerable populations, also raise several ethical questions. Using a process of ethical reflexivity, we discuss six ethical points related to both procedural and micro-ethics. In addition to shedding light on the importance of uncovering the everyday experiences of refugees using creative methods, we suggest broader ethical implications regarding how we respectfully work with vulnerable populations while still upholding research integrity.


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Author Biographies

Bree Akesson, Wilfrid Laurier University

Bree AKESSON is an assistant professor at Wilfrid Laurier University's Faculty of Social Work. In her research, she uses mixed methods to study the displacement experiences of war-affected families.

David A. "Tony" Hoffman, University of California Santa Cruz

David A. "Tony" HOFFMAN is a lecturer at the University of California Santa Cruz's Department of Psychology and a visiting lecturer at the American University of Beirut in Lebanon.

Samia El Joueidi, University of British Columbia

Samia EL JOUEIDI is the Lebanon field coordinator for this research project. She is currently a Master's candidate at the University of British Columbia's School of Population and Public Health.

Dena Badawi, University of Waterloo

Dena BADAWI is the research assistant for this project. She is currently an undergraduate student at the University of Waterloo in Canada.




How to Cite

Akesson, B., Hoffman, D. A. "Tony", El Joueidi, S., & Badawi, D. (2018). "So the World Will Know Our Story": Ethical Reflections on Research with Families Displaced by War. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 19(3). https://doi.org/10.17169/fqs-19.3.3087



Research Ethics in Qualitative Research