Research Methods in Human Rights
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Research Methods in Human Rights

A Handbook

Edited by Bård A. Andreassen, Hans-Otto Sano and Siobhán McInerney-Lankford

Methodological discussion has largely been neglected in human rights research, with legal scholars in particular tending to address research methods and methodological reflection implicitly rather than explicitly. This book advances thinking on human rights methodology, offering instruction and guidance on the methodological options for human rights research.
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Chapter 9: Research ethics for human rights researchers

George Ulrich

Abstract

Research in the area of human rights typically involves exposed individuals and communities and concerns issues that in one way or another are sensitive and charged. The aim of the chapter is to chart the ethical implications of human rights research. To this end, the author introduces a distinction between five primary levels of ethical consideration, which are accentuated to different degrees in ethical guidelines and codes of conduct applicable to research in the human, social and legal sciences. These have to do with (a) prevention of harm, (b) recognition and respect, (c) contribution to a greater good, (d) negotiation of terms of collaboration and conflicts of interest, and (e) compliance with scientific and professional standards. At each level, a range of characteristic dilemmas and challenges are presented as illustrative of the ethical considerations that should be taken into account when planning and conducting human rights research. In conclusion, the author presents an overview of ‘ethics in the research cycle’ and discusses means of strengthening ethical accountability within the community of human rights researchers.

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