Ethical Dilemmas Facing Action Researchers


  • Monique Bourot-Trites
  • Joe Belanger



The Tri-Council Policy Statement, which has its roots in the Nuremberg Code, specifies ethical obligations of Canadian researchers. The need for such regulations is evident in a number of studies which have shown complete disregard for the rights of human beings, studies which have continued into the current millennium. Teachers who conduct research in their own classrooms encounter ethical dilemmas in common with external researchers, but they also face unique challenges. Following a summary of 13 ethical issues facing educational researchers in general (e.g., students' ownership of their written work; anonymity vs. acknowledgment of accomplishments), this paper explores problems which are particularly troublesome for teacher-researchers: the ability of students to refuse to participate, and students' rights to the best instruction, be it experimental or control. For some types of teacher research, the problems surrounding informed consent can be addressed by having a third party manage the consent forms and data collection.