This third entry in BERA’s Research Ethics Case Studies series considers the unintended consequences of practitioner research – or, by extension, any research project that involves multiple stakeholders with different needs and expectations, and in which the researcher holds multiple statuses (as, for example, practitioner, employee, researcher and colleague).
Paul, an English teacher in a school that is part of a multi-academy trust (MAT), is pursuing a part-time master’s degree in school improvement. His dissertation project involves both quantitative and qualitative enquiry into the nature and impact of in-class teaching assistant support to pupils in his MAT. Having completed his research, he becomes concerned about his employer’s use of it – he believes that his findings have been presented selectively, and used in support of managerial decisions detrimental to the adult participants in his research, some of whom are also his colleagues.
For a full account of ethical best-practice as recommended by BERA we suggest that researchers refer to our Ethical Guidelines, which these case studies are intended to illustrate without themselves offering guidance or recommendations.
Annotations in the margins of each case study document in the series indicate where, among the numbered paragraphs of BERA’s Ethical Guidelines, readers can find our full advice on the issues raised (hyperlinks to the relevant passages are included).