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Ethical considerations in synthesising research : whose representations?
journal contributionposted on 2008-01-01, 00:00 authored by Harsh SuriHarsh Suri
Research syntheses play a powerful role in shaping further research, practice, policy and public perceptions. Accordingly, the ethical issues associated with how perspectives of different groups are included or censored in a research synthesis report must be paid adequate attention. Any research synthesis is inherently influenced by subjectivities associated with multiple layers of interpretation, selection and representation. In framing a research synthesis, it is vital that synthesists take into account: multiple interests and influences of different stakeholders; potential impact of the synthesis on different stakeholders; synthesists’ own multiple and shifting identities within the synthesis; synthesists’ methodological positioning within the synthesis; status accorded to authors and participants of the primary research studies included in the synthesis; influences of funding agencies; politics of who/what gets published; and biases introduced through common strategies for retrieving primary research studies. I have raised strategic questions and issues to structure and inform critical decision-making throughout a synthesis process. I hope this article will stimulate debate and discussion on various ethical considerations associated with the process of synthesising research.