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Durham University

Policy, Professions and Communities Research Group


Publication details for Professor Sarah Banks

Banks, S. & Brydon-Miller, M. (2019). Ethics in participatory research. In Ethics in participatory research for health and social well-being: Cases and commentaries. Banks, S. & Brydon-Miller, M. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge. 1-30.

Author(s) from Durham


This chapter introduces the topic of ethics in participatory research, providing a rationale for the book, discussion of the nature of ethics and ethical theories, suggestions for using the book and an overview of its contents. Participatory research involves people whose lives are the subject of study in some or all aspects of research design, process, dissemination and impact, with a focus on generating socially just change. As such, it raises distinctive ethical issues linked with the challenges of collaboration; sharing power; co-ownership of data, findings and impact; attribution of authorship; changing roles and relationships; handling institutional ethical review processes; and collective organising for change. This chapter elaborates briefly on some of these issues, discussing a range of different approaches to conceptualising and practising ethics in participatory research. It considers theoretical approaches to ethics, arguing for an approach characterised as ‘everyday ethics’. This takes account of the character traits, motives and relationships of the people involved, the particularities of the situations in which they are acting, and the ‘ethics work’ that people do to maintain their integrity, act with compassion and work out right courses of action. The chapter ends with examples of case-based exercises for teaching and learning, and an overview of each chapter.