Toward Epistemological Ethics: Centering Communities and Social Justice in Qualitative Research




APA Ethics Code, community-based research, dignity, epistemology, ethic of reciprocity, hermeneutics of love, intersubjectivity, qualitative research ethics, reflexivity, USA


As qualitative researchers based in the United States, we theorize and ground ethical issues within our work as inherent to the continuum of methods, epistemologies, and research relationships. Through collective and transgressive reflexivity, we write as members of the Society for Qualitative Research in Psychology (SQIP) Ethics Task Force, re-imagining the American Psychological Association's (APA) Ethics Code as a resource that is inclusive of qualitative inquiry and responsive to the "evidence based" quandaries encountered in our praxis. In this article, we name the gaps in the Code that are incommensurate with social justice oriented qualitative research and shake the epistemological ground of the Code from bottom-up. We interweave our vision for a new ethics Code that foregrounds the intersubjective and reflexive nature of knowledge production, preserves dignity, attends to power relations within and outside of the research endeavor, critiques relational and epistemic distance, and explicates the internal connection between epistemology, validity, and ethics. In our writing we note disruption of normative ways of knowing and being within the academy and within qualitative research.


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Author Biographies

Monique Antoinette Guishard, The City University of New York

Monique A. GUISHARD is an associate professor of psychology at Bronx Community College, chair of the Bronx Community Research Review Board, and project lead of the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute funded Community Engaged Research Academy. Monique has 16-years of experience conducting participatory action research. Her work pairs theory lived experience, and robust ethics to redress scientific racism.

Alexis Halkovic, University of Colorado Denver

Alexis HALKOVIC is a lecturer at University of Colorado Denver/Boulder Departments of Psychology and Women and Gender Studies, respectively. She uses qualitative and participatory methods to understand ways people resist structural inequality. She is the chair of the Society for Qualitative Inquiry in Psychology (SQIP) Ethics Taskforce.

Anne Galletta, Cleveland State University

Anne GALLETTA is associate professor in the College of Education and Human Services at Cleveland State University. Drawing on critical social theory, her work attends to structural violence and liberatory impulses within public education. She is on the Executive Board of the Society for Qualitative Inquiry in Psychology (SQIP).

Peiwei Li, Lesley University

Peiwei LI is an assistant professor of psychology and research coordinator in the Counseling Psychology Division at Lesley University. In her work she explores the borderland of critical qualitative inquiry and methodological development, pertaining to identity development and emancipatory interest. She is a member of the Executive Board of the Society for Qualitative Inquiry in Psychology (SQIP).




How to Cite

Guishard, M. A., Halkovic, A., Galletta, A., & Li, P. (2018). Toward Epistemological Ethics: Centering Communities and Social Justice in Qualitative Research. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 19(3).



Research Ethics in Qualitative Research