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Event: Workshop: Research Ethics and Social Inquiry

Event date December 11, 2014 - December 12, 2014
Location University of Copenhagen
Host(s) University of Copenhagen
Event website/information For more information, send an email to

Workshop: Research Ethics and Social Inquiry

The Helsinki-Copenhagen Colloquium in Evidence in Social Inquiry

Dates: December 11-12 2014

Venue: 27.0.09, University of Copenhagen Amager

Organizers: Julie Zahle, Rasmus Helles, and Petri Ylikoski


Thursday December 11

9:45   – 10:00                      Introduction and welcome to the workshop

10:00 – 11:00                      Charles Ess (Department of Media and Communication, University of Oslo): Research ethics: before principles, after “individuals”

11:00 – 12:00                        Stine Lomborg (Section of Film and Media Studies, MEF, University of Copenhagen): Ethical practice in empirical studies of social media use

12:00 – 13:00                      Lunch

13:00 – 14:00                      Anne Ryen (Department of Sociology, University of Agder): Qualitative Research and Research Ethics: Cleaner than life?

14:00 – 15:00                      Julie Zahle (Section of Philosophy, MEF, University of Copenhagen): Privacy and Participant Observation

15:00 – 15:20                      Coffee and tea

15:20 – 16:20                      Helle Bundgaard (Department of Anthropology, University of Copenhagen): Ethical dilemmas in Danish minority research

Friday December 12

10:00 – 11:00                      Steve Clarke (Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics, Charles Sturt University): More tea vicar? A reconsideration of the controversy over the ethics of Laud Humphreys’ ‘Tearoom Trade’ studies

11:00 – 12:00                      Petri Ylikoski (Department of Social Research, University of Helsinki): The Ethics and Methodology of Deception

12:00 – 13:00                      Lunch

13:00 – 14:00                      Janet Boddy (Department of Education, University of Sussex): Ethics in research across contexts:  Reflections from a multi-method study of family lives in India and the UK

14:00 – 15:00                      Klemens Kappel & Nana Kongsholm (Section of Philosophy, MEF, University of Copenhagen): Trust-based Consent

15:00 – 15:15                      Coffee and Tea

15:15 – 16:00                      Concluding discussion


The Helsinki-Copenhagen Colloquium in Evidence in Social Enquiry is a series of workshops that bring together philosophers of science and social scientists to explore how social scientific data provides evidence for claims about social phenomena, how social scientists justify their interpretations and explanations, and how social scientific research can serve as evidence for policy purposes. The series will especially, but not exclusively, focus on so-called qualitative research. The aim is to start a debate that creatively combines modern philosophy of science with reflective understanding of actual social scientific research practices in order to better understand the nature of social scientific knowledge.

The third workshop focuses on research ethics and social inquiry: Social researchers must carry out research in ethically acceptable and responsible ways. This means that there are ethical constraints on the sort of data they may use, produce, and gather. But how exactly – and to what extent – should ethical considerations guide and restrain social inquiry? A standard answer is that social researchers may use, produce, and gather any data compatible with their abidance to basic research ethical principles such as the principle of no harm, of informed consent, of confidentiality, and of anonymity. This stance has been challenged. Some insist that while these principles should guide medical research, they do not apply to (all) social research. Others argue that the principles are insufficient guides to ethically responsible social research. Are they right? In addition, there are questions like the following to consider: How exactly should the principles be interpreted and how should they be applied particularly in relation to new phenomena and new areas of study? Finally, to what extent, if any, may abidance to these principles be outweighed by the possible value for society of new knowledge about specific societal matters?  The aim of this workshop is to gain a better understanding of the ways, and extent to which, ethical considerations should inform and constrain social inquiry.

If you would like to attend the workshop, please send an email to Julie Zahle – – no later than December 1.

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