Ethics in fieldwork draws on the perspectives of philosophy, law, and psychology to guide moral decisions. Field researchers make ethical decisions whenever they gather, interpret, or present their data. However, ethical practice in fieldwork cannot simply rely on the guidelines for laboratory research.Informed consent has been the core of ethical review.
Ethical decisions call for analyzing the local situation as well as global principles. Fieldworkers can start by examining the researcher and the researched – how each is constructed, their roles, and their relationships. The researcher may range from traditional ‘‘outsider’’ to ‘‘participant observer’’ to ‘‘insider.’’ Moving along the continuum foregrounds certain ethical issues while resolving others.
Ethical review of fieldwork is more (not less) complex than what is mandated for laboratory experiments, calling for dialogue among insiders and outsiders.