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Ethics in Overseas Fieldwork

Thursday 22 March 2012

Location: Baines Wing, Room 2.37

The Researchers in Development Network (RiDNet), under the Centre for Global Development at the University of Leeds, will be hosting a seminar on Ethics in Overseas Fieldwork for PhD Researchers who will be conducting their fieldwork overseas in a low to middle income country.  Although the seminar is primarily for PhD Researchers all are welcome.

The seminar will focus on both general ethical issues of conducting fieldwork overseas as well as provide guidance for filling in the University of Leeds ethical approval form, and will be run by Jennifer Parr from the Nuffield Centre for International Health and Development.  Please see below for a description of the seminar and Jennifer Parr’s biography.

To attend this seminar please RSVP to  To get the most out of the seminar there will be some pre-seminar work, which will be made available prior to the seminar.

Ethics in Overseas Fieldwork – Seminar Description

Designing a research protocol is demanding and all steps of the research process takes time. Having to consider the ethical issues of your fieldwork and having to fill in the ethical approval form can feel quite  overwhelming. This demands that you consider all the interlinking elements of the topic and its sensitivity, your own experience and the support systems you need to put in place for both yourself and your respondents. On top of this you have to choose appropriate methodologies that answer your research questions.

This seminar is designed to help you think through some of these issues and give you the tools to put this onto paper either for the form or in your final write-up. The aim of this seminar is two-fold: provide guidance for participants who need to fill in the University of Leeds ethical approval form and provide a space for general discussion of ethical issues.

This is, of course, a tall order. To facilitate both I propose to set some pre-seminar work to help, particularly, those who would like guidance on the form. This pre-seminar work was originally developed by me to guide post and undergraduate students in filling out the form with excellent results. For the seminar itself there will be space to discuss the issues that come up when filling in the form, as well as general issues that participants would like to discuss. I will also bring some examples to illustrate some of the typical pitfalls that I have observed over the last 15 years from former students and my own practice.

Jennifer Parr Biography

Experience: Jennifer has a Masters in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Leiden, the Netherlands. She has worked in South Africa as a researcher and lecturer at the Department of Anthropology and
Sociology, University of the Western Cape. She is currently finalising her PhD entitled: “Integration in South Africa: A study of changes in the community health system”. She has also worked in Zambia and Kenya for the Ford Foundation funded “Study on Adolescents; Sexual Behaviour in Four African Cities with Different Levels of HIV Infection’ through the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp, Belgium. In the UK she has worked for the CREST project (Collaborative Research in Epilepsy Stigma), at the University of Liverpool and involving partners in Vietnam and China.

Current: The Nuffield Centre for International Health and Development, the University of Leeds, which she joined in 2008, has given her the opportunity to explore Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL). She is particularly passionate about its potential for full time UK students and working professionals from around the world. For the Nuffield Centre she has worked in Mali, Sudan and Uganda on various projects. Her other work involves the development of the Research Methods modules, which are undergoing change due to more stringent demands on risk assessment and ethics from the University of Leeds and increasing requests for support from both post and undergraduate students in developing research protocols for fieldwork.