In 2006 Davydd Greenwood, Olav Eikeland, and I edited a special issue of ARJ focused on ethics and AR. We concluded that special issue with a short list of proposals for “encouraging greater attention to and depth of reflection on the quetsion of ethics and action resrac and the challenges this presents” (p. 130). Over the next few weeks, I want to revisit that list of recommendations and consider what progress has been made in implementing some of our suggestions, and how we might continue to move forward to address the concerns raised there. I’ll start this week by considering the final category, the challenges facing “journal editors, conference organizers, reviewers, and others with leadership roles both within the academy and in community organizations”. We suggested the following:
· “encourage authors and presenters to include an honest discussion of the ethical challenges they faced in the process of conducting their research;
· devote special attention to a consideration of ethical issues in research by hosting conferences, developing special issues of academic journals, and encouraging other forms of scholarship examining these concerns; and
· develop venues for more inclusive discussions of research so that pertinent information reaches a broader audience.”
I wish I could say that I thought we’d accomplished all of these goals. But while I see progress, I think there is much that remains to be done. While some authors do address these issues, we have yet to develop a policy that requires or even strongly encourages authors to incorporate a discussion of ethics into the manuscripts they submit to ARJ.
In terms of conferences, I do know that we will be offering a symposium at the upcoming World Congress of Action Research focused on ethics and AR, and considering specific ways in which we might incorporate a more critical examination of the ethical implications of our work across the action research process. And there are extremely useful discussions of research ethics generally in publications including the Handbook of Social Research Ethics, the Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics, and Teaching Ethics, all of which have or are considering incorporating discussions of action research.
And, of course, my hope is that this section of the ARJ Community blog, will serve as a sounding board for discussions of the ethical challenges of action research. We’d welcome hearing your comments, questions, strategies, and challenges.