Journal of Social Sciences

Research Ethics and Overseas Fieldwork: Are Ethics Committees Oblivious of Cultural Differences?

Jones Adu-Gyamfi

DOI : 10.3844/jssp.2018.65.69

Journal of Social Sciences

Volume 14, 2018

Pages 65-69


Research ethics committees have come under increasing criticisms either for been toothless or too fierce. This has mainly come about as a result of the gap in theoretical expectations of research ethics and the experienced realities during fieldwork. In particular, ethics committees incur the displeasure of international students who undertake studies in their own sociocultural contexts. This paper presents a personal account of my experience as an international student in obtaining ethical approval for my doctoral research from a UK university. In this study, I challenge the validity of strict adherence to Western ethical framework in conducting research in non-western societies. With the increasing presence of non-western students in western universities, the paper argues for more flexibility in the ethical approval process to accommodate cultural differences. This would help to avoid situations where international students tell ethics committees what the committee would like to hear but do what they want to do while on fieldwork in their home countries.


© 2018 Jones Adu-Gyamfi. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.