Welcome to the Remote Research Toolkit: Conducting Ethical Remote Research
When we gather data, information, or stories about people, it is essential that we work ethically. There are existing robust protocols in place at most organisations to ensure that research involving human participants is done in an ethical way.
These research frameworks and policies have generally been developed and enacted with in-person, face-to-face participation in mind – for instance, travelling to London to interview a policy-maker in their office in Westminster, or travelling to an area for which aid donations are being sought, to collect “copy” for fund-raising communications. This way of conducting research has been challenged by the Covid-19 pandemic, in which meeting people in-person has been difficult and sometimes impossible, and the possibilities for safe travel have been severely curtailed.
Despite the global pandemic, there is vital research that needs to be done, or to continue. Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic does not look like it will be short-lived. Moreover, the possibility of doing research in the traditional manner is further threatened by natural hazards and the threat of future pandemics. In the context of climate change, we may all also be looking for ways to conduct ethical research remotely so as to cut back on fossil fuels produced from air and car travel.
Fortunately, new technologies offer innovative ways to conduct remote research and work with others despite physical distance. However, such technologies also present challenges which must be navigated by researchers to ensure their work remains ethical, placing the safety and well-being of staff, and particularly participants, at the forefront of their research strategies.
In this context, we have built this “toolkit” as a resource for researchers from academia, the third sector, the media, government and intra-governmental organisations (and elsewhere) planning to undertake remotely, and seeking to ensure it is conducted in a robustly ethical manner.