Developing an Evidence-base to Guide Ethical Action in Global Challenges Research in Complex and Fragile Contexts: A Scoping Review of the Literature

Clara Calia, Cristóbal Guerra, Corinne Reid, Charles Marley, Paulina Barrera, Abdul-Gafar Tobi Oshodi & Lisa Boden

The 2030 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals have heightened awareness of the interconnectedness of our global future resulting in new research priorities and corresponding funding to address complex global challenges through partnership. This has generated the potential for powerful new solutions but also for ethical risks within and between disciplinary, geographic and cultural boundaries, in turn necessitating a greater emphasis on equitable partnerships and novel, just, transdisciplinary methodological approaches. Given this changing global research landscape, current ethical frameworks can seem fragmented, incoherent and no longer fit-for-purpose. The objectives of this scoping review were to (i) identify key issues of research ethics and integrity in GCR; and (ii) practices that can help address them. The review yielded 65, which were analysed in depth. Thematic analysis informed the development of a 4-part framework to support ethical action through analysis of ethical dilemmas pre-emptively and dynamically: Place (contextual ethical issues associated with cultural and language differences), People (ethical issues associated with human relationships involving participants and/or the research team), Principles (the worldview and values that influence decision making during the research) and Precedent (the way in which the research provides useful information to solve complex problems in a fragile context).

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