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2.5 Ethical considerations of practice-based research

Formal ethical approval to undertake the practice-based methods detailed in preceding sections was granted by the School of Media, Culture & Society Ethics Committee in October 2016, although ethics were considered throughout the process. It has been noted that the political context of an area deeply influences the actions applicable surrounding community regeneration work (Arthurson, 2003, Crooke, 2010, Stevenson, McKay and Rowe, 2010) and for a researcher this brings an interesting ethical dimension as they must be mindful of the nature of decisions made and how they can be perceived by communities. The researcher is separate from these decisions but may be seen as part of them so in some cases being aware of one’s own personal approach and safety is particularly important (non- maleficence) and is also in the situation where the research may directly benefit the participants (beneficence) (University of the West of Scotland, 2016, p.6). In the case of this study it was important that research participants were aware of the researcher being in a practice-based context, in that although the project was publicised as part of Paisley 2021, the researcher was separate from the Paisley 2021 bid process thus avoiding the risk that I was perceived as “going native” with the research (Gold, 1958, p.221).


The cognitive maps and digital storytelling aimed to reveal both intangible and tangible assets, although local knowledge is needed to interpret some materials as nicknames for places or abbreviations can be used. Local people may be familiar with these, but an external viewer may struggle to comprehend what is being referred to, however as a researcher who was familiar with my geographical study area I have worked with this ethically by making the original maps available without editing, therefore open to interpretation by the viewer, but within the thesis text and portfolio I have endeavoured to make appropriate use of the information provided by participants to explain the findings within an academic context and answer the research objectives detailed within section 1.2. In this way I am allowing the voices of the participants to be heard, showing the authenticity of the creative materials, taking a similar approach to Matthews (2012) who provided a glossary of vernacular language terms with his research. Transcribing recordings can be beneficial to increase

accessibility, and language translation, and within the context of this research it may assist with understanding, however my participants did not specifically agree to audio transcription therefore this is not something which I did, but it would be a further point of development which accords with the HLF principles of improving design and amenities for all (Heritage Lottery Fund, 2010, p.17).


In using online information to complete the digital cultural asset map, I was mindful of the principles outlined by Jensen (2016) that researchers can readily and ethically use information which is easily read online but does not require logging in by secure measures; it is considered to have a broad audience potential and that users would be aware of their comment or information being published widely. This is also in line with the principles of Farrimond (2013, p.184) as this “falls within the category of online publication” and use is “more a matter of copyright.. than ethics”, therefore all entries within the cultural asset map have digital links that acknowledge the source about the asset.


Ethical challenges are raised when working with community groups; knowledge of sources of additional support or signposting may be necessary to address issues which arise in group discussion, particularly when working with vulnerable groups. For this reason when planning my research I was aware of the safeguarding measures put in place and attended

pre-meeting briefs with team members, and familiarised myself with connected services offered by each group such as counselling or spiritual pastoral care, as well as other elements of the group programme so I that I was aware of the context within which each group operated. It was unlikely that high risk issues would arise in my workshops due to the planned subject matter, however I recognise that as a professional researcher it is good practice to undertake risk assessments and complete ethical approval documentation for work involving human subjects, meeting issues of “minimising harm (non-maleficence)” (University of the West of Scotland, 2016, p.6), and I wrote clear participant information sheets and explained verbally that participants could withdraw at any time if required, reinforcing that participation was entirely voluntary.