How can you be a virtuous researcher?
In preparation for revising their ethical guidelines (published in 2016), the Academy of Social Sciences held a series of symposia to discuss current thinking about and issues in Social Science research. In the first symposium about ethical principles, Dr David Carpenter of the University of Portsmouth, contributed a ‘Stimulus’ Paper (AcSS, 2013). This presented a framework linked to Aristotelian reasoning that can be interpreted as researchers having duties to avoid vices and follow a path of virtue – known as the Aristotelian Doctrine of the Mean. Vices can be considered as both deficits or excesses of the virtuous path (as outlined in the previous step). Carpenter refers to the following phases of research:
Framing = finding a focus and setting questions
Negotiating = gaining permission and access to a site and gaining informed consent
Generating = gathering the data
Creating = analysing the data, generating models and theories
Disseminating = sharing findings with others
Reflecting = reflections on the research process
|Phase||Vice (deficit)||Virtue||Vice (excess)|
Look at the table above. Choose one of the research stages in the left hand column. Sketch out some practical actions or behaviours a researcher might exhibit which would lead them to be judged as virtuous or demonstrating either vices of deficit or excess.
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