Accepted Paper:

Undertaking research on domestic violence against women in Iran: methodological and ethical challenges  


Zahra Tizro (University of York St. John)

Paper short abstract:

This paper deals with the conceptual, ethical and practical issues of conducting research in relation to domestic violence against women in Iran. The paper intends to identify a number of issues attached to conducting research on sensitive topics in complex research fields.

Paper long abstract:

Undertaking research on sensitive and private topics such as domestic violence poses a great deal of challenges for both the researcher and the researched throughout the research procedure. This is intensified further when the research is conducted in complex areas (such as Iran) where topics with a politically sensitive nature could be viewed suspiciously and, therefore, unfavourably more especially if the research is conducted by academics who study and work outside the country. This, in turn, could potentially introduce unwanted risks and harm to those who are involved in the research. Protecting the safety of the participants is at the forefront of any research design along with obtaining informed consent, facilitating the participants' anonymity and protecting their rights. However, in practice, the researchers, unwittingly, might find themselves compromising not only their participants but also their own psychological and physical well-being by putting themselves and those related to them at risk. Meanwhile, in order to conduct research the researchers are obliged to follow a series of guidelines and protocols predominantly devised in the western countries which raise questions with regard to their practicality, applicability and ethics in a non-western context. The purpose of the following paper is to identify and address the above mentioned issues based on the author's own experiences of embarking a qualitative study in relation to domestic violence against women in Iran. The strategies being adopted to deal with some of these research risks and hazards will be discussed to pave the way for future studies.

Panel P110
Researching gendered lives in Iran: methodological and ethical challenges