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Nora Pillard Reynolds

The words “gaining ethical approval” bring to mind the ethics committee or International Review Board. All doctoral candidates are aware that the ethical approval process is there for a reason. However, too often graduate student chatter focuses on describing ethical approval as an adversarial process, with students dreading this part of their doctoral journey. The chapter asks, what if the process of pursuing ethical research starts long before the ethical approval application is submitted? What if ethical approval considerations were applied to all phases of the process, instead of the one point of gaining approval? It argues that, if this approach were applied, the ethical approval check point would come to provide a welcome opportunity to leverage the support and guidance available to ensure ethical practices in students’ work – and to keep the dissertation moving! The author’s own experiences are recalled throughout the chapter, which concludes with five key lessons.