A while ago, I shared how we do research ethics at the Swiss Forum for Migration and Population Studies (SFM). Given that we often do commissioned research at the SFM, it’s important that the administrative burden is kept low, but we do and want to take ethical questions serious. Here I share the updated guidelines that I have put together for the institute, recently further streamlined. The aim remains to encourage all researchers to think about and take research ethics serious, and the guidelines are a synthesis of other ethics guidelines (duly acknowledged).
The guidelines begin with a short flowchart to deal with the most common cases. The list of exempt cases is now more explicit, with the understanding that if researchers identify ethical questions in seemingly benign approaches such as a literature review (e.g. because of the way the research question is posed, or because of the funder) can require a more thorough reflection (and thus the checklist to be filled in).
The core of the guidelines remains a checklist with 11 question. Each question — like “Does the research involve sensitive topics?” — comes with a few examples, and there are three possible responses: yes, uncertain, no. Researchers can tick the appropriate boxes, but it proved useful to use numbers for “yes” and “uncertain” answers to facilitate cross-referencing with part 2 of the guidelines.
Where some of the answers are “yes” or “uncertain”, researchers fill in part 2. Now more detail is required, including a brief description of the work, but normally the longest part is “Steps taken to address ethical issues”. Here the cross-references come in handy. If I identified 3 issues in part 1, I can now refer to them by number.
An uncontroversial list of ethical principles like “no harm to subjects and researcher” or “informed consent should normally be obtained” is included at the end of the checklist.
With the streamlined design, for some projects the ethical checklist takes only a short moment (e.g. literature review, analysis of secondary data where individuals are not identifiable). For other projects, we can typically handle the situation at the institutional level (e.g. interviews), while occasionally we want to have a thorough examination by the ethics commission of the university (e.g. field experiments).
Our new study examines how residents in Switzerland perceive migration-related social change in their municipality, their place of work, and in public. We left the ivory tower and listened. The result is a detailed and diverse picture: Migration is perceived as part of social change more widely, but it’s not migration as such that evokes threat. Perceptions of threat and fear are a side-effect of wider social change and economic growth, such as changes to the built environment because of new buildings, cars and transportation, and a perceived impoverishment of social life. It is clear that a majority seek communities with local opportunities to meet and exchange, but many also recognize that the world changes.
Work as part of its project entitled ‘Migration, Mobility and the Democratic Welfare State’ to examine, in a historical and comparative perspective, how European welfare states have adapted to the twin challenges of international migration and mobility, from the redistributive ‘Golden Age’ in the 1970s to the present.
You will produce high quality original research and collaborate with other senior and PhD researchers already involved in the project. You may be given the opportunity to teach.
Suitable candidates should hold a PhD in History. Applications from persons with a PhD in Sociology,Political Science, or Political Theory and with an interest in historical analysis will also be considered.
Priority will be given to applicants with a proven track record of research experience in one or several of the following sub-fields: Migration; Social Policy; Comparative Politics; Welfare.
We’re hiring! Come and join us at the University of Neuchâtel:
Call for Application – Scientific Collaborator at the Swiss Forum for Migration and Population Studies, University of Neuchâtel
0.7 FTE (29.5 hours per week)
Two years appointment
The Swiss Forum for Migration and Population Studies intends to appoint one scientific collaborator. Potential candidates must hold a MA degree in Political Science, Sociology, Migration Studies, or a related discipline, and excel in research.
The research component of this position are part a SNSF project on explaining naturalized citizens’ political engagement. The project wants to analyze the political preferences of naturalized citizens, the drivers to become active participants in left and right wing parties and how they make sense of their background with regard to the party’s discourses. This will be measured based on content analyses and biographical interviews.