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Emmerich, N. (2017). Remaking Research Ethics in the Social Sciences: Anthropological Reflections on a Collaborative Process. In R. Iphofen (Ed.), Finding Common Ground: Consensus in Research Ethics Across the Social Sciences (Vol. 1, pp. 125–148). Emerald Publishing Limited. https://doi.org/10.1108/S2398-601820170000001011


This chapter offers an anthropological commentary on the work of the Academy of Social Sciences’ Research Ethics Group and the process through which five generic ethical principles for social science research was created. I take an anthropological approach to the subject and, following the structure of Macdonald’s essay Making Research Ethics (2010), I position myself in relation to the process. I discuss various features of the REGs work including the enduring influence of medicine and biomedical research ethics on the ethics and ethics governance of social science research; the absence of philosophers and applied ethicists and their incompatibility with the kind of endeavour pursued by the Research Ethics group; and the antipathy many felt towards the creation of a common code resulting in a preference for generic principles. This chapter offers insight into the work of the Research Ethics Group and the creation of the five ethical principles for social science research, subsequently adopted by the Academy of Social Sciences.