Ethics in research are extremely important and should always be maintained to ensure that researchers conduct their work in a professional manner. Basically put, ethics are the rules that distinguish between “right” and “wrong”, “bad” and “good”, ethics are about the norms for conduct that distinguish between acceptable and unacceptable behavior in society.
In research and fieldwork in particular, maintaining good ethics at all times is a must and should be a norm. These ethical characteristics include honesty, objectivity, integrity, carefulness, openness, respect, and confidentiality, among others.
Conducting fieldwork is challenging and interesting at the same time. Doing it successfully requires properly trained and well-prepared fieldworkers. Before any fieldwork can commence, our fieldworkers are thoroughly trained over a period 2-3 days regarding the context of the programme, ethics, and many other issues, in order to be able to carry out the project successfully.
But in the field of social sciences, things are not as clear-cut or straightforward as we may like. People are unpredictable and complicated, so no matter how well-trained fieldworkers may be, working with communities can bring about unexpected challenges when they respond in very different and unpredictable ways.
An example of such a situation is dealing with requests for material things from the participants of a study. This may include requests for money, clothes or anything else while conducting research, and this is caused by the expectation that our team is there to offer material benefits in exchange for information. This is never the case.
On top of the ethics training that fieldworkers receive, it is also important to emphasize that they always need to be professional when dealing with the different kinds of participants in the different communities regardless of the socio-economic conditions.
So fieldworkers always need to be trained in handling unexpected social situations in a professional and ethical manner. Treating people and their questions with respect and tact, and explaining the project terms to them in an understandable manner will help make sure everyone involved is on the same page about the data collection.
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