Accepted Papers:

Managing research ethics? The role of international donor and networks  


Francesco Obino (Global Development Network)

Paper Short Abstract:

If much research funding flows trans-nationally, the institutions that handle it can play a significant role in ensuring ethics is part of the game. The paper discusses three models to leverage international donor and networks practices to strengthen global debate on research ethics.

Paper long abstract:

Institutions that fund development research at the international level occupy a privileged position with reference to the practice of research ethics: not only these actors are in a position to impose procedural requirements on researchers, but they also influence substantially research agendas through their funding priorities, and - ultimately - they have a unique vantage point on different ways of doing research. Rarely these three dimensions of influence (administrative, substantial and meta-analytical) are leveraged to advance the theory and practice of research ethics.

This paper explores three potential models actors active in international research funding (donors and networks) can use to leverage their position on question of research ethics and the transformative politics in development research, and discusses their implications (for both researchers and donors). The first model is one where a funding actor adopts a procedural approach, adopting a research ethics policy or checklist (ex ante approach). A second model is one where it integrates ethics in its definition of research quality and its mechanisms for quality control (ex post or iterative approach). A third model implies a broader effort to engage with (and navigate) researchers' own reference practices in the institutions and countries where they belong.

After presenting these three models and exploring their boundaries and overlaps, the paper discusses the different potential they have to support an institution's own reflection on questions of long-term impact and transformative politics inherent in development research.

Panel D5
Ethics, justice, and the practice of development research