justice

Different conceptions of justice exist and there is disagreement about how they might be applied to research. Justice is one of the four principles introduced in the Belmont Report (Department of Health, Education, and Welfare 1979). Research ethics guidelines tend to refer to distributive and procedural ideas of justice, pointing to the need for benefits and burdens of research to be distributed fairly and for participants to receive fair treatment in their recruitment and in their representation by the outcomes of the research process. However, these arrangements might be regarded as exploitative in that the benefits to the participating individuals and communities would not be commensurate to either the risks placed on those communities or the benefits that might accrue to the researchers or the sponsors of the work. There are also more radical understandings of justice that, for example, question the gendered or racialized nature of traditional approaches and advocate, among other things, more social, global or Indigenous approaches. ‘Standpoint’ research often adopts an explicit commitment to challenging such structural disadvantages through the process and outcomes of its projects. (see also Principlism)

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