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How do we carry out research with refugees? This paper provides reflections on some of the key ethical questions surrounding fieldwork on forced migration. The aim is to bring together multi-disciplinary debates on research ethics; in lieu of stating presumably neutral, objective and universally applicable answers, the paper critically discusses guiding principles and practical issues, and proposes ways forward in order to spark further discussions. For that, a paired view on research ethics is used, as a code of conduct for scholars as well as a framework for normative scrutiny of research in a broader sense. Subjects in this paper include harm in and due to fieldwork with a proposed Do No Harm analysis to minimise risks; relations and responsibilities of researchers to participants and among research teams with reflections on participatory approaches; transfer of results with scholars and humanitarian agencies but also with participants; and benefits of interdisciplinary platforms for exchange to openly address difficulties and opportunities in ‘the field’.



Working paper


Refugee Studies Centre

Publication Date



RSC Working Paper Series, 123

Total pages