Research Ethics, Power and Vulnerability

Researchers should comply with the legal and ethical requirements existing at home and in the countries where the research is conducted. The International Compilation of Human Research Standards of the US government’s Office for Human Research Protections provides an overview of relevant laws and clearance proceedings. This document is updated every year.

The complexity of an issue can give rise to multiple questions about proper behaviour that need to be assessed in context. Unanticipated ethical dilemmas are common in socio-legal research. Leiden Law researchers have worked in courtrooms, prisons, sharia courts and refugee settlements. Just by entering these arenas they may influence the course of events. Most researchers advocate for objectivity. But, some researchers insist that neutrality in situations of injustice is unethical.

You need to be able to think on your feet when faced with such an ethical dilemma. Therefore, you need to be well prepared. Consult various guidelines on ethics to consider any possible ethical ramifications prior to entering the field. While you’re at it, also read the information on informed consent, personal security, privacy and data security in these guidelines.