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International Perspectives of Ethical Approval: The New Zealand scene

Author(s): Antoinette McCallin Ph.D.

Journal: Grounded Theory Review : an International Journal
ISSN 1556-1542

Volume: 9;
Issue: 3;
Date: 2010;
Original page

Keywords: groudned theory | classic grounded theory | ethical approval | ethics

The paper “Navigating the process of ethical approval” (Carey, 2010) raises many issues about the influence Institutional Ethics Committees have on research methodology and what can or cannot take place in research. Carey draws attention to the ethical challenges classic grounded theory researchers face when an ethical proposal that follows the principles of the methodology is presented to an Ethics Committee, whose main responsibility is the protection of participants. Ethics committees not only guide researchers on acceptable ethical practice, but are charged with monitoring ethical standards and ensuring researchers act in accordance with professional expectations for researchers within the jurisdiction. These committees aim to ensure consistency of ethical practice in research. While there is generally some flexibility in the review process researchers often find ethical requirements constraining, as guidelines are primarily prescriptive and are designed to ensure consistency in the application of universal ethical principles in research. In New Zealand, consistency includes paying attention to broader socio-cultural responsibilities to society that includes promoting awareness of the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumer Rights 1996, the Health Information Privacy Code 1994, and promoting ethical practices which involve Maori (the local indigenous people) in research proposals as much as possible (Ministry of Health, 2006). So while researchers in training assume that their prime interest concerns the management of a research topic and methodology, they quickly find out that ethical guidelines influence research design. Even though there is an international code of ethics (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 2005) that defines ethical standards for researchers around the world, each country has its own specific requirements depending on the context. In this paper, ethical drivers in the New Zealand context are outlined and considered in relation to Irish issues. This is followed by a consideration of methodological rules and managing the practical realities that emerge when working with a specialist methodology such as grounded theory.
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