Towards Ethical Research in Post-Disaster Settings

There is little guidance on navigating research and data ethics in the aftermath of a disaster. Researchers conducting fieldwork and collecting data in these settings face numerous unique and intersecting ethical challenges including balancing scientific and humanitarian goals, the increased vulnerability of disaster-affected communities and compressed timelines for both fieldwork and fieldwork preparation. By creating a set of processes that guides and informs researcher behaviour, this project tackles the practical and methodological challenges that emerge in these contexts. Given our location in Singapore, our research is focussed on Southeast Asia and the particular dynamics that animate the region.

By creating a set of processes, practical guidelines and articulating best practice in the field, this project will empower researchers with the tools they need to navigate thorny ethical issues that emerge during the collection and processing of data in these contexts. This project will increase awareness about the ways in which post-disaster situations can complicate and exacerbate existing ethical dilemmas, and offer concrete, practical and effective guidelines to mitigate issues as they arise. Through this project, we aim to both strengthen our own practice ahead of fieldwork as well as contribute to the recent global conversation on best practices in the field of disaster studies.

A multi-pronged approach to ethics

Our work is informed by interviews with experts in the field of disaster ethics, philosopher, university stakeholders and disaster researchers at different stages of their careers. We address several key gaps to enable safer and more ethical fieldwork.