Finally, voices from the ethnographic and feminist research traditions (Lomborg, 2012; Beaulieu and Estalella, 2012) point out the insufficiency and inappropriateness of rigid consent forms, and instead advocate for informed consent as a continuous negotiation (Lawson, 2004); a series of waivers of expected and behavioral social norms (Manson and O'Neill, 2007); or a situated decision that the researcher makes by focusing primarily on avoiding harm rather than consent per se (Markham and Buchanan, 2015). These approaches seem to be backed by studies about research participants’ expectations toward the research process. Lewis and Graham (2007) found that participants reacted unfavorably to the idea of written consent, and were more interested in naturalistic, authentic approaches to information-giving.
I found myself particularly drawn to the ideas of the ethics of care. Held (2006, p. 9) has defined care as both a value and a practice. The ethics of care ideally prescribes ‘relations of trust and mutual respect’ (Boellstorff et al., 2012, p. 129), and is seen as something that goes beyond avoiding harm.
After more than ten years of working with marginalized communities, strategic guidelines for good practices for online research methodologies have emerged. In summary, these good practices include:
- Partnering with intermediary organizations to conduct research in their member communities.
- Establishing and supporting collaborative, longterm, respectful relationships.
- Using a wide range of online tools creatively, appropriately and effectively – including social media, videoconferencing, websites and mobile tools – to maintain partnerships and to gather, protect and share information and traditional knowledge.
- Ensuring ownership, control, access and possession of the research data and that local knowledge remains with the communities and the people.
- Integrating local worldviews and epistemologies into all aspects of the research by creating a process to meaningfully involve local scholars, knowledge keepers and community members.
- Learning and growing with the community throughout the entire sharing process with the effective use of interactive, two-way communication technologies.
- Sharing the research data with the communities in co-produced reports and presentations that are useful to them.
- Working with the communities to build local capacity to use and sustain research in the future.
- Developing and delivering research training and resources required by the community.
- Co-presenting research results including coauthoring papers and articles ensuring local ownership of the stories and knowledge.
- Working with the community to leave a lasting product that contributes to local well-being and future opportunities.
- Working with intermediary organizations on action to make structural changes through better regulations and policies benefiting all marginalized communities.