Writing for Ethical Research: Novice Researchers, Writing,and the Experience of Experiential Narrative


The objective of this paper is to better understand how to bring the experience of applying for research ethics approval closer to the practice of research planning. The hypothesis is that, while experienced scholars understand the ethics writing process, early career scholars find that understanding is harder. We adopt experiential narrative methodology to explore individual understandings of the ethics writing process as case studies providing insight into relationships between academic and institutional process. We adopt this approach since experiential narrative allows academics to explore social processes while providing professional development. Building narratives of the experience of applying for research ethics approval, we present six personal accounts from the perspectives of the research ethics committee chair, a senior supervising academic, two early career academics and two doctoral candidates. The paper describes our experience through individual and collective experiential narratives, engaging the narratives of scholarship, intellectual context, participant and power relationships, and professional growth. Extending a previous argument that deeper engagement with ethical curricula will transform students, we demonstrate the effect of deeper engagement upon early career scholars, and demonstrate that the bureaucratic writing embedded in the research ethics proposal can be harnessed to mentor both early and later career writing and scholarly development.

Share and Cite:

Boyd, W. , Parry, S. , Burger, N. , Kelly, J. , Boyd, W. & Smith, J. (2013). Writing for Ethical Research: Novice Researchers, Writing,and the Experience of Experiential Narrative. Creative Education, 4, 30-39. doi: 10.4236/ce.2013.412A1005.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Anon. (2004). Australian code of practice for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes. Canberra: National Health and Medical Research Council, Australian Government.
[2] Anon. (2007). National statement on ethical conduct in human research. Canberra: National Health and Medical Research Council, Australian Government.
[3] Becher, T. (1989). Academic tribes and territories. Buckingham: Society for Research into Higher Education and the Open University Press.
[4] Becher, T., & Parry, S. (2005). The endurance of the disciplines. In I. Bleiklie, & M. Henkel (Eds)., Governing knowledge: A study of continuity and change in higher education (pp. 133-144). Dordrecht: Springer. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/1-4020-3504-7_9
[5] Boyd, B. (2009). Developing the research proposal. In S. M. J. Baban (Ed.), Research: The journey from pondering to publishing (pp. 93-120). Kingston: Canoe Press.
[6] Boyd, W. E. (2011). Bridging the gap from skills assessment to problem-based learning: Lessons from the coalface of scholarly engagement with curriculum development. International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 5, 9.
[7] Boyd, W. E., Healey, R. L., Hardwick, S. W., & Haigh, M., with contributions from Klein. P., Doran, B., Trafford, J., & Bradbeer, J. (2008). None of us sets out to hurt people: The ethical geographer and geography curricula in higher education. Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 32, 37-50.
[8] Boyd, W. E., & Horta, H. (2011). Network ethics in the growing global, multi-dimensional and technological academy: Introduction to papers presented at the 2009 Network Ethics Conference. International Journal of Cyber Ethics in Education, 1, i-v.
[9] Boyd, W. E., & Newton, D. (2011). Times of change, times of turbulence: Seeking an ethical framework for curriculum development during critical transition in higher education. International Journal of Cyber Ethics in Education, 1, 1-11.
[10] Boyd, W. E., O’Reilly, M., Bucher, D., Fisher, K., Morton, A., Harrison, P.L., Nuske, E. Coyle, R., & Rendall, K. (2010). Activating the Teaching-Research Nexus in smaller universities: Case studies highlighting diversity of practice. Journal of University Teaching and Learning Practice, 7, 19.
[11] Boyd, W. E., O’Reilly, M., Rendall, R., Rowe, S., Wilson, E., Dimmock, K., Boyd, W., Nuske, E., Edelheim, J., Bucher, D., & Fisher, K. (2012). Friday is my research day: Chance, time and desire in the search for the teaching-research nexus in the life of a university teacher. Journal of University Teaching & Learning Practice, 9, 19.
[12] Bradford, M. (2000). Improving students’ team and personal skills. Cheltenham: Geography Discipline Net-work.
[13] Brett, J. (1991). The bureaucratization of writing: Why so few academics are public intellectuals? Meanjin, 50, 513-522.
[14] Chamberlayne, P., Bornat, J., & Wengraf, T. (2000). The turn to biographical method in social science. London: Routledge.
[15] Clandinin, D. J., & Connelly, F. M. (2000). Narrative inquiry: Experience and story in qualitative research. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
[16] Clark, M. C., & Rossiter, M. (2008). Narrative learning in adulthood. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, 119, 61-70.
[17] Cloke, P. (1994). (En) culturing political geography: A life in the day of a rural geographer. In P. Cloke, M. Doel, D. Matless, M. Phillips and N. Thrift (Eds.), Writing the rural: Five cultural geographies, (pp. 149-190). London: Chapman.
[18] Colne, C. (2007). Moral qualities of experiential narratives. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 39, 11-34.
[19] Colne, C., & Boone, M. (2008). Local heroes, narrative worlds and the imagination: The making of a moral curriculum through experiential narratives. Curriculum Inquiry, 38, 7-37.
[20] Colne, C., & deBeyer, M. (2009). Appraising the ethos of experiential narratives: Key aspects of a methodological challenge. Educational Theory, 59, 41-65.
[21] Connolly, M., & Clandinin, D. J. (1990). Stories of experience and narrative inquiry. Educational Researcher, 19, 2-14.
[22] Delanty, G. (2001). Challenging knowledge: The university in the knowledge society. Buckingham: Society for Research into Higher Education and Open University Press.
[23] Denzin, N. H., & Lincoln, Y. S. (2000). The Handbook of Qualitative Research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
[24] Elliott-Johns, S. E. (2011). Reclaiming a writing voice as a new teacher educator: SoTL as portal. International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 5, 9.
[25] Ellis, C., Adams, T., & Bochner, E. (2011). Autoethnography: an overview. Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12, Article 10.
[26] Estrella, M., Blauert, J., & Campilan, D. (2000). Learning from change: Issues and experiences in participatory monitoring and evaluation. Ottawa: IDRC Books.
[27] Estrella, M. B., & Gaventa, J. (1998). Who counts reality? Participatory monitoring and evaluation: A literature review. Brighton: Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex.
[28] Fry, H., Ketteridge, S., & Marshall, S. (2003). A handbook for teaching and learning in higher education: Enhancing academic practice. London: Routledge Falmer.
[29] Geertz, C. (2000). Available light: Anthropological reflections on philosophical topics. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
[30] Heiftetz, R., & Linsky, M. (2002). Leadership on the line: Staying alive through the dangers of leading. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.
[31] Jackson, N. (2005). Making higher education a more creative place. Journal for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching, 2, 14-25.
[32] Lea, M. R., & Stierer, B. (2009). Lecturers’ everyday writing as professional practice in the university as workplace: New insights into academic identities. Studies in Higher Education, 34, 417-428.
[33] Manathunga, C., Peseta, T., & McCormack, C. (2010). Supervisor development through creative approaches to writing. International Journal for Academic Development, 15, 33-46.
[34] Marcus, L. (1998). Auto/biographical discourses: Criticism, theory, practice. Manchester: Manchester University Press,
[35] Miller, C. M. L., & Parlett, M. (1976). Cue consciousness. In M. Hammersley, & P. Woods (Eds). The process of schooling (pp. 143-150). London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.
[36] Nowotny, H., Scott, P., & Gibbons, M. (2001). Re-thinking science: Knowledge and the public in an age of uncertainty. Cambridge: Polity Press.
[37] Parry, S. (2007). Disciplines and doctorates. Dordrecht: Springer.
[38] Parry, S. (1998). Disciplinary discourse in doctoral theses. Higher Education, 36, 273-299. http://dx.doi.org/10.1023/A:1003216613001
[39] Radi, D. A., Hildebrandt, P., & Martin, J. (2008). First experiences of four Ph.D. students in collaborative narrative inquiry research: The Artsmarts Research Project. http://www.artssmarts.ca
[40] Roberts, B. (2002). Biographical research. Buckingham: Open University Press.
[41] Searby, L. J., & Tripses, J. S. (2011). Going to the balcony: Two professors reflect and examine their pedagogy. International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 5, 11.
[42] Schön, D. (1987). Educating the reflective practitioner. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
[43] Silverman, D. (1997). Qualitative research: Theory, method and practice. London: Sage.
[44] Swales, J., & Najjar, H. (1987). The writing of research article introductions. Written Communication, 4, 175-191.
[45] Taylor, L. (2010). Editorial: Practising in context: Embracing the diversity of academic development practice and scholarship. International Journal for Academic Development, 15, 1-3.
[46] Trahar, S. (2009). Beyond the story itself: Narrative inquiry and autoethnography in intercultural research in higher education. Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 10, 20.
[47] Vygotskii, L. S. (1935). Dinamika umstvennogo razvitiia shkol’nika v sviazi s obucheniem. In Umstvennoe razvitie detei v protsesse obucheniia (pp. 33-52). Moscow-Leningrad: Gosuchpedgiz.

Copyright © 2023 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.