Risk Taking in Public Spaces: Ethical Considerations of Self-Study Research

  • Lynn ThomasEmail author
Part of the Self-Study of Teaching and Teacher Education Practices book series (STEP, volume 20)


The ethical considerations of carrying out self-study research are numerous and complex. Self-study as a research methodology is centred on the “self” or the researcher, but inevitably concerns others, given that the full title of the research methodology is the self-study of teacher education practices (Bullough & Pinnegar, 2001; LaBoskey, 2004). Teacher education practices almost always involve our students, but we may also involve others, such as colleagues and critical friends (Russell, 2005). Given the potential impact on participants, it is imperative to follow ethical procedures to ensure that the research is respectful and will not cause harm. To some extent, self-study research is even more inherently risky than other types of research because it requires a researcher to closely examine his or her own practice and come to a deeper understanding of that practice in order to improve it. This level of introspection and honesty can leave a researcher and other participants in the study vulnerable and open to criticism and judgement. Furthermore, self-study research does not follow the methodological approaches used in many other types of research, meaning that ethical considerations may be quite different and the standard formats for applying for and receiving ethical approval for this kind of research may not be entirely appropriate. Self-study is by nature emergent and exploratory (Ham & Kane, 2004). The intention is to delve into assumptions and understandings to discover hidden meanings in our professional practice and make sense of this practice as a part of our work in teacher education (Brookfield, 1995; Garbett, Brandenburg, Thomas & Ovens, 2018). This means that we cannot predetermine the effects of our research on ourselves and on our research partners, making self-study inherently complex from an ethical standpoint.


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of EducationUniversité de SherbrookeSherbrookeCanada

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