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Centre of African Studies: Events


Research ethics governance in an age of COVID-19

Research ethics governance in an age of COVID-19
Speaker: Rebecca Tapscott # Graduate Institute, Geneva
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Date and Time
4th Nov 2020 16:00 - 4th Nov 2020 17:30
Microsoft Teams

As the world faces the novel coronavirus, and its socio-economic and political fallout, qualitative field research may be more important than ever. At the same time, such crises exacerbate inequalities and vulnerabilities, requiring greater attention to research ethics. How will existing systems of ethical review – like institutional review boards and research ethics committees - shape qualitative field research in the context of the current crisis? And who stands to win and lose? To answer these questions, this short paper proposes a framework that centres two structural power imbalances common to existing institutional processes for reviewing research ethics: the power imbalances between the global North and South, and between biomedical and social science research. It then considers how select research ethics committees and field researchers have responded to new ethical challenges as of early October 2020. The paper finds that, unless we proactively identify and engage with their potential consequences, today’s measures to ensure research ethics during COVID-19 may reinforce these power imbalances by recalibrating political relationships between researchers, research subjects, governments, and regulatory institutions. 

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