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Doing ethical research together: A communitarian toolkit for ethical research beyond borders

Doing ethical research together: A communitarian toolkit for ethical research beyond borders by  Clara Calia, Corinne Reid, Cristobal Guerra, Action Amos, Joseph Burke, Abdul-Gafar Oshodi

Author(s): Clara Calia, Corinne Reid, Cristobal Guerra, Action Amos, Joseph Burke, Abdul-Gafar Oshodi

Abstract:

The toolkit for ethical research developed out of a research project that focused on establishing place-based, community-centred best practice in grand challenges-related research ethics, integrity and conduct. We held 5 roundtable events at The University of Edinburgh drawing together more than 200 researchers from 30 countries and more than 60 discipline areas. These conversations highlighted that we needed a clarifying worldview to support place-based, community-centred, ethical action at every stage of the research journey. In response, we created a toolkit - accessible and practical material to guide people involved in complex community-based research. This toolkit explores an ethical worldview for research and provides practical guidance and questions to consider at every stage of the research journey, from developing an ethical research question through to being accountable for the legacy of your research long after the project has concluded.


Article:

Global challenges research tackles complex, persistent problems that often require interdisciplinary, cross-sector, international and cross-cultural collaborations and partnerships, at scale and at a distance. Projects are often undertaken in contexts with emerging and/or limited research infrastructure, broader resource limitations, and socio-political instability. This complex  landscape presents a significant risk exposure for upholding high standards of research conduct and preventing research misconduct that may negatively impact both local communities and researchers, as well as impacting the trustworthiness and translation of research findings.  
 
The toolkit for ethical research developed out of a project that focused on strengthening integrity and ethical conduct in grand challenges research. We held 5 roundtable events at The University of Edinburgh drawing together more than 200 researchers from 30 countries and more than 60 discipline areas. These conversations highlighted the need for a clarifying worldview to support place-based, community-centred, ethical action at every stage of the research journey. In response, we co-designed accessible and practical material to guide people involved in complex community-based research. This toolkit provides practical guidance and questions to consider at every stage of the research journey, from developing an ethical research question through to being accountable for the legacy of your research long after the project has concluded.  A pocket size version is now available in 11 languages. A more detailed website is available in English and Spanish (https://www.ethical-global-research.ed.ac.uk/).  
 
In 2021, researchers in Chile, Malawi, Nigeria, Edinburgh and Australia undertook further work with more than 300 global researchers, members of ethics committees and representatives of NGO’s to continue strengthening the toolkit.  Researchers find the toolkit helpful for supporting cultural contextualisation of research, solidarity amongst researchers and with community partners. It helps researchers to address the complex demand characteristics of international research and of ethical evidence-gathering to inform social change.    

 


Author(s)

Clara Calia, Corinne Reid, Cristobal Guerra, Action Amos, Joseph Burke, Abdul-Gafar Oshodi Clara Calia, Corinne Reid, Cristobal Guerra, Action Amos, Joseph Burke, Abdul-Gafar Oshodi

Clara Calia is a Lecturer in Clinical Psychology in the School of Health in Social Science and a Fellow of the Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Insecurity and the Global Health Academy at The University of Edinburgh. Clara is a Clinical Psychologist who has been working as a researcher and clinician with a wide range of complex clinical problems working in multidisciplinary and international projects and in translational and applied research

Clara's clinical and research work is also characterized by a strong ethical commitment. She is the School Deputy Director of Research Ethics & Integrity in the School of Health in Social Science. Her commitment to ethics brought her to lead this project in order to define and establish the research culture for best practice through a strong process of co-design and partnership in developing an ethics toolkit.

 

Corinne Reid is Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) at Victoria University. She began working on the Global Ethics Toolkit project whilst on a CAHSS Fellowship at The Global Health Academy at The University of Edinburgh. Her deep interest in ethics developed through research collaborations with Indigenous communities in Australia, as part of an international team investigating youth mental health needs in Malawi and in her work as a clinical psychologist with marginalised communities. Supporting researchers to tackle complex global challenges through developing ethical multidisciplinary teams and strong community partnerships, is her priority.

 

Cristobal Guerra is a Clinical Psychologist with a Masters in Psychology and Doctorate in Psychotherapy. Clinical experience supporting child and adolescents victims of interpersonal trauma in Chile between 2001 and 2018. Member of the Center for Studies in Childhood, Adolescence and Family of the NGO Paicabi and of the Center for research on work, family and citizenship "Cielo" of the Universidad Santo Tomas. Associate Professor of the School of Psychology of the Universidad Santo Tomás, Chile. Research area in trauma, CBT and resilience.

 

Action Amos is the International Bureau of Epilepsy Vice President- Africa with 28 affiliates in Africa. He is a Member of Pan African Network for Persons with Psychosocial Disabilities (PANPPD). He is the Founding Chairperson of the National Epilepsy Association, Epilepsy Movers and Founding Trustee of Mental Health Users and Carers Association (MEHUCA) He does possess an MBA in Leadership and Sustainability from UK, a BA in Development Studies from Ireland and a Postgraduate Diploma in Disability and Rehabilitation Management. Currently he is attached to the University of Edinburgh Flourish Research Team.

Action has a special interest in NGOs Research Ethical Practice and Mental Health Research focusing on Children and Young People. Action has served in various Boards as Chairperson and member both locally and internationally. Currently Action is a Board Director for African Disability Alliance (ADA). He has contributed globally on issues of Mainstreaming and Inclusion of persons with disabilities. Action has proven experience in the area of human rights, policy analysis, research and technical application. Currently, Action is a member of UN Spotlight Initiative Civil Society National Reference Group.

 

Joseph Burke is a Research Fellow at the University of Edinburgh’s School of Health in Social Science focusing on global mental health and research ethics. He is also a Mental Health Recovery Worker with Penumbra. He has over 7 years of experience working in humanitarian response throughout the Middle East and Africa, working with the Irish Government and the UN.

 

Abdul-Gafar Oshodi holds a PhD in Social Sciences from KU Leuven and lectures in the Department of Political Science, Lagos State University (LASU). A former journalist at Vanguard newspaper, he was a fellow of the Social Science Research Council’s (SSRC) Next Generation of Social Science in Africa programme (2013-2014) and a University of Edinburgh's Centre for African Studies Catalyst Fellow and Non-Residential Catalyst Fellow (2019-2020). Abdul-Gafar is a co-founder of Conflict Research Network West Africa (CORN - West Africa). He is currently an American Council of Learned Societies African Humanities Program (ACLS/AHP) postdoctoral fellow (2020-2021), working on a book entitled “Imageries of Mao Zedong’s China in Ghanaian newspapers, 1957-1976.”


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Keywords: Global research, ethics, communitarian, cultural context, toolkit