New article on the ethics of research narratives

Keele Criminologists past and present produce new article for the Research Ethics journal

Keele Criminologist Dr Tony Kearon, in conjunction with his former PhD student and Keele Criminology alumnus Dr Ian Mahoney (now a Lecturer at Liverpool Hope University), have a new publication in the journal Research Ethics which is now available online. The case study, entitled ‘(De)Constructing Ethical Narratives in Criminological Research’, reflects upon their experiences as a doctoral research student (Mahoney) and supervisor (Kearon) and the manner in which we as criminological researchers construct ethical narratives around the research that we do (research that routinely involves individuals that have committed criminal offences and/or are coming to terms with experiences of criminal victimisation).

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Dr Ian Mahoney

The authors focus on the tensions which arise between the ethical review board (ERB) guidelines, procedures and practices that criminological researchers are routinely held to by their institutions and the practical realities of conducting empirical fieldwork that is crime related. They argue that strict adherence to ERB guidelines can be sometimes be problematic and risks causing more harms than it seeks to mitigate.

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Dr Tony Kearon

The authors use their experiences of conducting fieldwork to show that researchers should consider the potential harm caused to particularly vulnerable participants and draw attention to the need to refocus away from simply responding to specific disclosures of behaviours by participants towards their wider biographical narratives and future trajectories. In doing so, they argue that we should move away from research ethics based on a narrow, bureaucratic framework and towards moral concerns so as to avoid causing undue harm. This publication marks the first in of a series of intended discussions in which they seek to problematise the relationships between ethics, bureaucratic governance frameworks, the demands of research commissioners, and the challenges that arise while conducting empirical criminological research.

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