Do no harm? Field research in the Global South: ethical challenges faced by research staff

Kaplan, Lennart / Jana Kuhnt / Janina I. Steinert
Externe Publikationen (2020)

in: World Development 127 (March) (online first)

DOI: 10.1016/j.worlddev.2019.104810
Information

The rise of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) to rigorously evaluate development policy is characterized by a wide range of ethical complexities. While the literature has identified ethical challenges pertaining to study participants, we argue that the principle of “do no harm” should equally apply to research staff. Based on an ongoing systematic review and interviews with research staff at different hierarchical levels and world regions, we identify key ethical challenges of field research in the Global South, including threats to physical and emotional wellbeing. Moreover, prevailing power imbalances can create precarious working conditions and inadequate acknowledgement of contributions. An open discussion and learning from “best practices” is needed to address these gaps in development research.

About the authors

Kuhnt, Jana

Development Economist

Kuhnt

Kaplan, Lennart

Economist

Kaplan

Further experts

Hernandez, Ariel

Political Scientiest 

Klingebiel, Stephan

Political Scientist 

Marschall, Paul

Economist 

Müngersdorff, Maximilian

Social Scientist 

Negre, Mario

Economist 

Oehler, Hannes

Economist 

Reiners, Wulf

Political Scientist 

Scholtes, Fabian

Economist 

Schwachula, Anna

Sociologist 

Stamm, Andreas

Geographer 

Stoffel, Tim

Political Scientist 

Strupat, Christoph

Economist 

Vogel, Johanna

International Cultural Economist