Field workers at the interface
This issue of Developing World Bioethics includes a collection of papers on intermediary staff and volunteers working at the interface between research institutions and researchers, and the communities from which research participants are recruited. ‘Field worker’ – a short hand commonly used in many research settings – refers here to those whose main role is face-to-face engagement with participants, who usually speak the participants’ first language, who are from or live in the study areas, and whose work entails moving around the study areas or health facilities. There is growing interest in field staff and volunteers’ role at the interface in international research settings, and in the implications of their activities and challenges for ethical practice. In mediating between the often very different priorities and concerns of well-resourced research institutions, and relatively poor communities without good access to quality affordable health care, field workers are not simply neutrally observing, and adhering to formal, externally derived ethical rules, but instead play ‘a vital, creative, and under-recognised role in research and ethics practice’.
Molyneux S., Kamuya D., Adhiambo Madiega P., Chantler T., Angwenyi V., and Geissler P.W. (2013) Field workers at the interface, Dev World Bioeth. 2013 Apr; 13(1): ii–iv