The ethics of engagement: Research relationships in an applied linguistics partnership with a professional medical body

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Abstract

This paper considers the ethical dimensions of interprofessional research relationships in applied linguistics, an area that has perhaps received less attention than other types of engaged research in the field. As a discipline, applied linguistics has considered how research can be conducted ethically with participants, mindful of benefiting those who are the subjects of research. However, research in professional and institutional contexts involves complex relationships with multiple parties, where research ‘with’ different participants and professional groups raises ethical considerations about who benefits and who does not. A case study provided from a project in medical education, looking at differential attainment in an examination for UK general practitioners (GP), demonstrates these difficulties in a particularly politicised setting. Various relationships are examined in turn, from the early stages of becoming involved in local activity and establishing data collection, through to the involvement of ‘key informants’, analytic sessions with the practitioners and incorporating the perspectives of the GP trainees in developing educational interventions. Such relationships require negotiation between all parties, making it difficult for the researcher always to claim ‘independence’ and requiring ongoing ethical decisions about roles and obligations. Nevertheless, engaging in these relational activities is itself argued to be part of the ethical conduct for interprofessional research.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Applied Linguistics and Professional Practice
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 Jun 2022

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