Ethical considerations when conservation research involves people

Stephanie Brittain, Harriet Ibbett, Emiel Lange, Leejiah Dorward, Simon Hoyte, Agnese Marino, E. J. Milner‐gulland, Julia Newth, Sarobidy Rakotonarivo, Diogo Veríssimo, Jerome Lewis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Social science is becoming increasingly important in conservation, with more studies involving methodologies that collect data from and about people. Conservation science is a normative and applied discipline designed to support and inform management and practice. Poor research practice risks harming participants, researchers, and can leave negative legacies. Often, those at the forefront of field‐based research are early‐career researchers, many of whom enter their first research experience ill‐prepared for the ethical conundrums they may face. Here, we draw on our own experiences as early‐career researchers to illuminate how ethical challenges arise during conservation research that involves human participants. Specifically, we discuss ethical review procedures, conflicts of values, and power relations, and provide broad recommendations on how to navigate ethical challenges when they arise during research. We encourage greater engagement with ethical review processes and highlight the pressing need to develop ethical guidelines for conservation research that involves human participants.
Original languageEnglish
JournalConservation biology
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jan 2020


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