Qualitative Open Mic: Ethics in Qualitative Research – Episode 6 - Nishita Nair on marginalised researchers’ ethical processes

06 Dec 2023
Nishita Nair

In this series, we are highlighting positive ethical practices in qualitative research with marginalised groups, and discussing ways in which we can make qualitative research inherently more ethical.

In this episode: 

We explore Nishita’s research on whether social research ethics codes and institutional processes effectively aid researchers working with ethnic minority communities in the UK. Her study, involving semi-structured interviews with researchers from King’s College London and the UCL Institute of Education, seeks to uncover both the benefits and limitations of these codes and processes.

Nishita notes that social research ethics codes, heavily influenced by Western philosophies, often fail to translate in culturally diverse contexts. Researchers find these codes flexible but underutilised. Meanwhile, institutional ethics processes, though helpful in initial planning, are seen as rigid and ineffective in promoting continuous ethical thinking, particularly in multi-cultural research settings.

We end the episode by talking about Nishita’s recommendations for the future. These include revising ethics codes with input from social science scholars, establishing separate ethics committees for social and medical sciences, enhancing reviewer diversity, and incorporating considerations of positionality and reflexivity. She also underscores the importance of creating formal spaces within institutions for sharing and discussing ethics best practices.

Nishita works as a Research Ethics Officer at the IOE, UCL’s Faculty of Education and Society. She coordinates the ethics review and approval process and works collaboratively with the IOE Research Ethics Committee to develop and implement strategic initiatives in relation to ethics matters within the institution. She also manages the training of ethics reviewers and advises applicants on the ethical considerations within their research. Nishita has recently completed a Masters in Bioethics at King’s College London and is driven by the passion to understand what makes one ethical and how to cultivate ethical thinking.

Nishita previously managed a research funding programme at the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) and led on the Patient and Public Involvement activities within the team. She also served as the Chair of the NIHR EDI Committee.

Listen below, or on Spotify or Apple Podcasts.