Ideology and the discourses of research: The ethics of Ethics for cross-cultural research in Education

Year: 2004

Author: Viete, Rosemary

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Australian universities require educational researchers, whether students or staff, to apply for approval of their research projects involving humans or animals. This approval is granted by universities' Ethics Committees. As a license to research, this gate-keeping procedure has the complicated task of protecting participants, researchers and institutions from potential 'harm'. For international students the ideologically situated discourses of Ethics requirements can impact on cross-cultural research practices in ways that affect the quality of their research, and sometimes prevent it, calling into question the notion of education as a public good: whose good is it and for which public?

In this paper I discuss the ways in which the discourses of one Ethics committee have affected the work of international students conducting educational research in their own countries. I look closely at how the language and procedures of the approval process position cross-cultural researchers and present Education research students' and supervisors' accounts of cross-cultural challenges that arise from the Ethics requirements, as well as the benefits they see. Drawing on suggestions from these participants and insights from activity theory, I propose practices that take account of the socio-cultural contexts of the research.