Statement of Principles of Ethical Research Practice

The then SLSA Executive Committee (now SLSA Board) set up a sub-committee in 2000 to review its SLSA Statement of Principles of Ethical Research Practice. The first draft of the existing ethical code was written by Professor Andy Boon, chair of the sub-committee, and approved by the sub-committee, comprising:

  • Andy Boon, University of Westminster (chair)
  • Linda Mulcahy, Birkbeck College, University of London
  • Ann Mumford, Cardiff University

A consultation with the membership was held during November and December 2000. The code was first published in the SLSA Directory 2001.

The document was subsequently reviewed by a sub-committee of the then SLSA Executive Committee in 2008 comprising: 

  • Anne Barlow, University of Exeter
  • Dave Cowan, University of Bristol
  • Dermot Feenan, University of Ulster
  • Bettina Lange, University of Oxford (chair)
  • Vanessa Munro, University of Nottingham
  • Julian Webb, University of Warwick

The revised version was published in January 2009.

'During this process, the SLSA ethics sub-committee sought to steer a middle course between taking into account changes to ethics governance introduced by the ESRC research ethics framework and supporting the professional autonomy of socio-legal researchers. The ethics sub-committee also did not seek to express in the statement detailed opinions on legal obligations which can arise for socio-legal researchers. Instead, we have included reference to some key legal issues which may arise in socio-legal research projects. How these may be relevant and how any legal or ethical issues arising in socio-legal research should be resolved needs to be analysed and addressed in the context of the specific circumstances of particular research projects.'

Bettina Lange

Further reading

Andrew Charlesworth (2008) ‘Understanding and managing legal issues in internet research’ in N Fielding, R Lee and G Blank (eds), The Handbook of Online Research Methods, Sage

Dermot Feenan (2002) ‘Legal issues in acquiring information about illegal behaviour through criminological research’, British Journal of Criminology 42:762-781



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