Sidelined by the Guidelines: Reflections on the Limitations of Standard Informed Consent Procedures for the Conduct of Ethical Research
AbstractConventional informed consent guidelines as exemplified by Canada’s 16 research ethics policy statement and applied by Institutional Research Boards 17 (IRBs) presuppose an individuated liberal humanist research subject that is 18 incommensurate with the subjectivities of many actual research participants as they 19 experience them, and as the theoretical perspectives used in much qualitative 20 research conceptualise them. I use the example of my ethnographic research in 21 northern Pakistan to demonstrate that abiding by IRB guidelines for informed 22 consent would have the effect of disciplining and normalising both my research 23 participants and my research. Based on my own research experiences I suggest four guiding practices for informed consent in community centred research: that it 1 be collective, progressive, oral, and negotiated. The paper ends by stressing the 2 importance of examining research ethics policies and procedures as a way to reflect 3 critically on the disciplining and normalising institutional context within which our 4 research practices and outcomes are shaped.
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