Glasgow Centre for International Development publishes Guide to Ethical Challenges in International Research

Mary Ryan, International Development Research Manager for our Glasgow Centre for International Development, introduces a new resource to support our community with developing sound ethical practice in international research.

Teams working in international development know that the rewards and challenges associated with their work are many. Success requires reaching across geographies, cultures and disciplines to deliver impact in a constantly changing research landscape. To achieve this, an inclusive approach to developing sound ethical practice must be at the heart of any ambition to tackle global challenges.

As part of our work to support our community’s ambitions and successes, the Glasgow Centre for International Development (GCID) is pleased to announce the publication of a new online resource: our Guide to Ethical Challenges in International Research.

GCID has worked since 2006 to support members of the university community who are interested in international development. From networking and training events to process improvement and support for funding proposal development, GCID works to make the University of Glasgow the best possible environment for international development-related activity.

Part of GCID’s work is building the capacity of our community and our partners to conduct world-changing international development research. At the heart of this goal are our commitments to ethical and equitable research and partnerships. Our understanding of what ethical partnership means and how we can achieve it are constantly changing. That often means putting these commitments into practice can be challenging – there isn’t always a “right” answer and many of the most complicated situations are not captured in our formal ethical approval processes. Against this backdrop, we encourage researchers to take an inclusive approach to building the skills and the confidence to carefully assess the specific local context and arrive at an appropriate decision for them, their research and their team.

To help capture some of these challenges and to support our teams to navigate them, we began a series of knowledge exchange events in the summer of 2021 for researchers (both staff and students) working in international research contexts. These workshops were designed to provide a forum for researchers to share the challenges they encounter, identify coping mechanisms and suggest areas where future training or support are needed. We then transformed those discussions into the new Guide to Ethical Challenges in International Research.

This resource captures the real experiences of our communities and includes practical advice for all stages of the research journey. It will be valuable to anyone working in international collaborations and we encourage you to share it with your partners and throughout your networks.

Headshot of Mary RyanMary Ryan is GCID’s International Development Research Manager. She has a background in marine behavioural ecology and has worked as a research assistant in several research labs at the University of Glasgow. She spent two years as campus facilitator at the University's Garscube campus, then managed the Livestock, Livelihoods and Health research programme exploring zoonotic disease in Tanzania before joining GCID. As part of her work with GCID, Mary manages the GCRF Small Grants Fund and clerks the GCID Coordination Group.