Defining ethical standards for participatory research

Posted on Posted in Health and wellbeing, Work
Ethical standards for participatory research

We worked with the Participatory Practitioners for Change network to develop a set of ethical standards for participatory research. The group formed around concerns about the quality of work carried out in the name of participation. We developed a set of principles for practitioners, guidelines for commissioners and a list of promises a practitioner might make to their clients. These statements set out what good participatory research looks like, and provide the ethical foundation underpinning all work undertaken by Shortwork.

Principles for practitioners
  1. Local people are experts in their own lives – others learn from them.
  2. Participatory work tries to include everyone relevant to the activity. Participants try to find those who  need to be involved and include voices and ideas that may not normally by heard.
  3. In good participatory work people take ownership of the process (using their analysis, their ideas and their words) that is developed together with others from many different backgrounds.
  4. Participatory work requires people to be self reflective. Practitioners continuously examine and develop their practice.
  5. Participatory work is rigorous and ethical. Participants continuously examine and develop their practice.
  6. Participatory work requires people to be self reflective. Practitioners continuously examine and develop their practice.
  7. Participatory work should lead to action.
  8. Good participatory work identifies the role of power relationships and seeks to lead to empowerment of those disadvantaged by the existing situation.
Guidelines for clients
  1. Does the consultation process contain time to think and flexibility so that work can be modified as it goes along?
  2. Does the consultation process contain methods for feeding back to participants and for sharing the findings with key stakeholders?
  3. Is there someone who will support and promote the consultation process?
  4. Will it be possible to involve people in different areas outside the initial brief?
  5. Does the process include the intention of promoting action and change at the community level?
  6. Does the process include local people and help to build their skills?
  7. Does the consultation have the capacity to cope with unexpected findings?
  8. Can you find good facilitators for this process, do you know where to search and have clear criertia and methods for selection?
  9. Are the key stakeholders informed about this initiative and have they got time allocated to learning about the process and about the findings?
  10. Can you identify similar participatory initiatives that have happened recently in the same area or may be planned in the near future?
Promises to clients
  1. I will work out with your clear roles and responsibilities.
  2. I will keep you informed of findings and changes in the work in a timely manner.
  3. I will want to understand the pressures you are under relating to this project and the possibilities that you see for continued sustainable work based on it.
  4. I will engage with other key players to increase the possibilities of collective work and sustainable change.
  5. The training I will provide will include work on appropriate behavior, which will keep the trainees safe and protect, where appropriate, the confidentiality of the interviewees or participants.
  6. Trainees will be selected in order to be an inclusive as possible.
  7. The training will, where possible, provide longer term capacity building as well as the skills necessary for this project.
  8. We will negotiate informed consent with all participants so that they know what they are contributing to and how their contributions will be used.
  9. I will design and run a process that promotes genuine learning by all those involved.
  10. The process will be inclusive; we will actively seek out diverse opinions and try to hear form people whose views are less often heard.
  11. I will report the findings faithfully including those that might not fit with the initial brief and which may be challenging to you and other players.

The full article setting out the ethical standards set by the Participatory Practitioners for Change network can we downloaded for free here.