Conducting Ethical Research: Reflections on Networked Saudi Society

Conducting Ethical Research: Reflections on Networked Saudi Society

Sunila Lobo (University of Reading, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9624-2.ch055
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Since the 1960s, social scientists have explored the ethics of conducting research. However, there is little guidance in conducting ethical research in the more conservative societies of the Middle East. The rapid progress of technology has meant that these societies have been become increasingly networked, even the most restrictive ones, with a growing use of mobile devices. The purpose of the chapter is to describe the reflection on the research conducted on mobile consumption practices of female Saudi youth. The conduct of the research is based on both the researcher's formal training and also, intuitively negotiated, in practice, as she navigated this particularly sensitive context. The influence of the interplay between culture and gender emerges as the researcher reflects on the research conducted. The consideration of the ethics of the research continues post research completion.
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Since the 1960s, social scientists have explored ethics in qualitative social research (Bulmer, 1982; Orb, Eisenhauer, & Wynaden, 2001; Robley, 1995). Blumberg, Cooper and Schindler (2005, p. 92) define ethics as the ‘moral principles, norms or standards of behaviour that guide moral choices about our behaviour and our relationships with others’. Ethics in research relates to how one designs the research, gains access, collects data, processes and stores the data, conduct data analysis and write-up in a moral and responsible way (Saunders, Lewis, & Thornhill, 2007, p. 178). But the norms of behaviour that guide moral choices can allow for a range of ethical positions (Blumberg et al., 2005). In fact, Saunders et al. (2007) recommend that ethical issues are considered throughout the period of the research. In most universities, the university code of ethics and/or a research ethics committee will guide the conduct of research. However, such formal guidelines and processes may not exist in universities in the Middle-East.

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