QUAHRC Seminar Series: Does qualitative health research need ethics committees?

21 Jun 2022, 13:00 to 14:00
Online - MS Teams
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Presented by Sohail Jannesari, Nooshin Asgari, and Stan Papoulias

Recording now available below

Qualitative health researchers are on a journey to becoming more reflective, ethical and supportive researchers, but do we need university ethics committees to do this? Are researchers better served seeking guidance from institutions in participant communities, negotiation with potential participants, and training on power and privilege? This seminar attempts to tackle these questions, drawing on the work and findings of the interdisciplinary group, Inspiring Ethics.

Sohail Jannesari introduces the topic:

"University ethics committees and qualitative health researchers are bumping heads: the one-size-fits-all requirements of ethics committees are not perceived as understandable, let alone ethical, by some participants and their rigidity can encourage exploitation; the bioethical values underpinning these requirements clash with the efforts of cross-cultural researchers to acknowledge participant values; and ethics committees are struggling to stay abreast of rapidly evolving qualitative methodologies around participatory approaches, artistic methods and scholar activism.

These tensions are happening alongside an increased focus on reflexivity as a marker of quality in qualitative health research, and a push back against victimising participant framings. Qualitative health researchers are on a journey to becoming more reflective, ethical and supportive researchers, but are university ethics committees a bureaucratic roadblock? Do we need ethics committees any more or are researchers better served seeking guidance from institutions in participant communities, negotiation with potential participants, and training on power and privilege? This seminar attempts to tackle this question, drawing on the work and findings of the interdisciplinary group, Inspiring Ethics."

Speaker biographies:

Sohail Jannesari is a post-doctoral researcher at King’s College London. He current work looks at outcomes for survivors of trafficking, using e-Delphi methods, and he has previously looked at how researchers should work with migrants, migrant communities, and migrant organisations in an equitable and non-exploitative way, conducting an ethnography of participatory action research projects. Sohail brought together the interdisciplinary group, Inspiring Ethics.

Nooshin Asgari: Nooshin is a geneticist by profession and worked as a genetic counsellor before coming to the UK from Iran. Now, she works as a Senior assistant technical operator in the Blood transfusion laboratory at King's College Hospital. 

Stan Papoulias: Stan came to applied mental health research from an earlier career is literary and cultural studies. They are currently Research Fellow at the Service User Research Enterprise (SURE) of King's College London - a research unit staffed primarily by researchers who have lived experience of mental distress and/or neurodivergence and promoting user-led approaches to mental health research. Stan is trained in qualitative methods and social theory and is interested in developing novel participatory and visual methodologies for the exploration of experiential knowledge and in investigating the relationship between working conditions and knowledge production.  They are currently researching the labour of those who co-ordinate and manage patient and public involvement in health research. 

Inspiring Ethics is a group of academics who want to reshape ethical relations in community based research, and change the bioethical model of university ethics. They include people from the Qualitative Applied Health Research Centre, Centre for Society and Mental Health, and the Mental Health and Society Group at King’s College London. Beyond academics, they are also people from migrant backgrounds, service users, activists, charity volunteers and more.

Note from the Inspiring Ethics group: 

We'll be continuing these discussions in our group meetings, please contact us if you'd like to be part of it. The Inspiring Ethics email is inspiringethics [at] kcl [dot] ac [dot] uk and the twitter handle is @EthicsInspiring.