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Everyday ethics in community-based participatory research

Banks, Sarah; Armstrong, Andrea; Carter, Kathleen; Graham, Helen; Hayward, Peter; Henry, Alex; Holland, Tessa; Holmes, Claire; Lee, Amelia; McNulty, Ann; Moore, Niamh; Nayling, Nigel; Stokoe, Ann; Strachan, Aileen

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Kathleen Carter

Helen Graham

Peter Hayward

Alex Henry

Tessa Holland

Claire Holmes

Amelia Lee

Ann McNulty

Niamh Moore

Nigel Nayling

Ann Stokoe

Aileen Strachan


This article explores a range of ethical issues that arise in community-based participatory research (CBPR), drawing on literature and examples from practice. The experience of CBPR practitioners adds further weight to the growing critique by many other social researchers of regulatory approaches to research ethics (which focus on rule following in accordance with research governance frameworks, codes of conduct and ethics review procedures). Yet, whilst many of the ethical challenges in CBPR are common to social research generally (informed consent, anonymity, issues of ownership of data and findings), the dynamic, complex and value-based nature of CBPR gives them particular prominence. There are also specific issues relating to the ethics of partnership working, collaboration, blurring of boundaries between researchers and researched, community rights, community conflict and democratic participation that are more frequently encountered in CBPR. Four practice examples are used to demonstrate this argument. These are taken from a young women's community allotment, a community organisation researching poverty, a youth peer research project and a museum-based digital storytelling project. The article concludes that current institutional ethical codes, guidelines and ethical review procedures are not particularly well-suited to CBPR, in that they adopt principle-based and regulatory approaches to ethics; whereas character- and relationship-based approaches to ethics are also very important in CBPR, which is adopted by many researchers with a strong value commitment to social justice.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 30, 2012
Online Publication Date Feb 25, 2013
Publication Date Nov 1, 2013
Deposit Date Mar 14, 2013
Publicly Available Date Nov 21, 2014
Journal Contemporary Social Science
Print ISSN 2158-2041
Electronic ISSN 2158-205X
Publisher Taylor and Francis Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 8
Issue 3
Pages 263-277
Keywords Community-based participatory research, Ethics, Institutional review, Ethical guidelines.
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Copyright Statement
© 2013 The Author(s). Published by Taylor & Francis.

This is an Open Access article. Non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly attributed, cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way, is permitted. The moral rights of the named author(s) have been asserted.

Permission is granted subject to the terms of the License under which the work was published. Please check the License conditions for the work which you wish to reuse. Full and appropriate attribution must be given. This permission does not cover any third party copyrighted material which may appear in the work requested.

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