Ethics, Self-Study Research, Methodology and Teacher Education: Uncovering the silenced ethical dilemmas of researcher practice.

Year: 2018

Author: McDonough, Sharon, Brandenburg, Robyn

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

There are a number of complexities involved in thinking about what ethical practice might look like for self-study researchers. While many researchers are familiar with working within a set of institutional requirements for the conducting of ethical research, these models are based on historical concepts of what ethics is, and are often borne out of medical or psychological approaches to research. Every project, however, is bound by its own cultural, historical and social contexts, and these contexts mediate what ethical practice might be. In contemporary higher education institutions, self-study researchers also work across boundaries of multiple countries and multiple institutions, with this having implications for the way we address issues of ethics.  For self-study researchers there are a number of ethical dilemmas and challenges that are not neatly captured by the frameworks and guidelines of ethics boards which may focus primarily on issues to do with the ethics of data collection. These gaps between where formal ethics processes ends and ethical dilemmas in context begin, requires self-study researchers to be ever -present and engaged with the ethics of their own projects, from the development through to the dissemination of their work.
In this paper we draw from a series of chapters in a forthcoming edited book to explore the ethical dilemmas that self-study researchers navigate as they conduct research in teacher education. We explore the ethical considerations they make and how they use their professional ethical judgment to build an understanding of what it means to be an ethical self-study researcher.
We use content analysis to identify the commonalities between the ethical dilemmas they describe and identify those ethical dilemmas that may have been, or may remain silenced in our consideration of ethics from the genesis to the dissemination of a project. In drawing from the work of self-study researchers, we can illuminate the collective ethical concerns facing those using self-study as a methodological approach for examining teacher education. We highlight the nuanced and situated experiences and ethical considerations self-study researcher make and argue that an ethical engagement is required when undertaking self-study. Our paper presentation will invite audience members to reflect on, explore and share perspectives on their own ethical dilemmas and engagement.