Critical Enquiry in the Context of Research-Ethics Review Guidelines: Some Unique and Subtle Challenges

  • Will C. van den HoonaardEmail author


This chapter weighs the challenges posed by ethics codes for those fields where critical research is a fundamental aspect of research, with a focus on sociology. The norms of contemporary research ethics review highlight objectivity and neutrality, making it difficult to engage in critical research. Using the 2010 Canadian Tri-Council Policy Statement as an illustration, the chapter explores notions such as “high scientific standards” and “rigorous analysis,” socially “legitimate” research, and the emphasis on knowing in advance the full impact of proposed research virtually precludes doing critical enquiry. If critical enquiry involves more than one research setting and numerous research participants at different levels of authority, the problem becomes exacerbated. Fortunately, research ethics committees are diverse in their interpretations of their mandate and vary in their views about critical enquiry. The chapter concludes by considering the need for critical researchers to maintain the dignity of the readers of their research.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of New BrunswickFrederictonCanada

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