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Day-to-day dilemmas:

An ethical guide for health systems researchers

Have you ever had that lurching feeling in the pit of your stomach? Found yourself unable to stop thinking about a troubling interaction that you had with a research participant or collaborator? Felt confused about whether your intervention was doing more harm than good? You are not alone…

But making ethical practice a day-to-day part of our daily routine as health systems researchers is crucial to research excellence. You don’t have to be an ethics expert to do this – although those ethics experts have a lot of great advice, which we have drawn on in this resource.

All too often ethical reflection, review, and analysis is treated as something that occurs in elite spaces, among people higher up, behind closed doors, or in institutional review boards. Sometimes it is viewed as a one-off element in the research process that occurs before research even begins.

Practical, applied ethics helps us to think through issues like whose views are heard and prioritised; the process by which priorities are set; the relation between researchers, decision makers and the users of health systems; and how funding is generated and spent in the creation of new knowledge. These are issues that we are often grappling with as health systems researchers, but don’t often think of as ethical issues and the additional lens that this can bring to our reflections.

The website is separated into an overview section [ADD LINK] which provides information in issues such as power, positionality, and progress. Sections on the day-to-day process of research [ADD LINK] help highlight some of the common challenges that health systems researchers face and provide references which explore these issues in greater detail. We hope that you find it a useful tool to help guide your work.