Mapping drivers, capacities and needs for research ethics in the Middle East and North Africa
Modern concepts that govern many of the accepted research ethics practices and principles in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are based on western value systems that do not speak to the region’s diverse local and cultural contexts and realities. Applying research ethics in the region tends to be isolated and heavily focused on biomedical research, with a lack of attention on how political, social, and economic contexts affect researchers and research settings. There is a significant need for researchers, ethics review boards, and other relevant actors to collaborate and address limitations and challenges in how research ethics are applied in non-biomedical fields in the region.
This project will fund researchers from the American University of Beirut to map and assess research ethics practices and processes of universities in MENA. This multi-stakeholder study will involve academics, research participants, and national ethics committees, among others. It will also investigate the social and structural determinants that influence and impact research processes and conduct.
This project will partner with two other IDRC-funded projects in MENA: the development of a research ethics learning portal (led by Birzeit University) and an initiative that intends to strengthen individual and institutional capacities by providing training and research grants on research ethics (led by the Arab Council for Social Sciences). Together, these teams will produce localized and evidence-based research ethics protocols in social sciences and public health and humanities research. They will generate knowledge on existing practices and new innovations in research ethics, including a focus on fragile environments, and they will establish a community of practice with regional and global influence. These efforts will also produce practical knowledge and tools that can be adapted to other regions, with the aim of informing and influencing global policies and practices to conduct research in fragile settings.