Caught in the act: Ethics committee review and researching the sexual culture in schools.
Allen, L. (2009). Caught in the act: Ethics committee review and researching the sexual culture in schools. Qualitative Research, 9(4). pp. 395-410.
Abstract: This article explores ethics committee review as part of a system of government directing the behaviour of researchers and possibilities of research. Drawing on the work of Halse and Honey (2007) it argues ethics committees represent one of the governing practices of an institutional discourse of ethical research. This discourse has constitutive effects for researcher identities that are ‘ethical’ and what in practice might represent ‘ethical’ research. This analysis is undertaken with reference to visual research with youth about ‘the sexual culture of schools’. How ethics review constituted this research as ‘risky’ and young people as ‘irresponsible’ and ‘recalcitrant’ is examined. These discursive practices undermined a youth-centred methodology committed to valuing the agency and competency of youth and left the researcher feeling she had acted ‘unethically’ towards participants. These effects demonstrate a paradox whereby compliance with ethics review can produce what this process seeks to prevent, ‘unethical’ researchers and research. (The final, definitive version of this paper has been published in Qualitative Research, 9/4, 09/2009 by SAGE Publications, Ltd., All rights reserved. © Sage Publications Ltd.).