Ethics First: Reflections on the Role of Research Ethics at the Initial Stages of an Investigation into Taxi Drivers' Experiences of Crime

Publication Date01 December 2009
AuthorTim Hillier,Martyn Denscombe,Gavin Dingwall
DOI10.1177/026975800901600304
International
Review
ofVictimo/ogy.
2009,
Vol.
16,
ppJOI-308
0269-7580/09$10
© A B
Academic
Publishers
-
Printed
in
Great
Britain
ETHICS FIRST: REFLECTIONS ON THE ROLE
OF
RESEARCH ETHICS AT THE INITIAL STAGES
OF
AN
INVESTIGATION INTO TAXI DRIVERS'
EXPERIENCES
OF
CRIME
MARTYN DENSCOMBE, GAVIN DINGWALL and
TIM
HILLIER
De
Montfort
University,
UK*
ABSTRACT
The
beginnings
of a
research
project
are
not
necessarily
clear
cut.
This
generates
some
interesting
ethical
issues
for
researchers
during
the
period
between
the
initial
idea
for
research
and
its
subsequent
development
into
a
formal
research
proposal
that
can
be
submitted
for
approval
to
an
ethics
committee.
This
paper illustrates
the
point
through
a
reflexive
account
of
preliminary
work
towards
a
research
project
on
taxi
drivers
and
their
experiences
of
being
victims
of
crime.
It
explores
the
way
that
ethical
considerations
come
into
play
during
the
early
stages
of a
research
project
and
argues
that
codes
of
research
ethics
need
to
give
more
explicit
attention
to
researchers'
duties
of
care
during
the
initial
'gestation'
stage
of
research.
Keywords:
research
ethics-
taxi
drivers-
crime-
research
methodology
INTRODUCTION
Taxi
driving
is
a
mundane
way
to
earn a
living.
All
you
need
to
know
to
be
a
taxi
driver
is
how
to
drive
a
car
and
find
your
way
around
the
city,
and
sometimes
not
even
that
much.
You
pick
up
customers,
drive
them
to
where
they
want
to
go,
get
your
due,
and
cruise
off
to
collect
yet
another caller or
to
hunt
for
yet
another
hailer.
Sometimes
you
negotiate
the
traffic, paying
no
attention
to
the
passengers.
Sometimes
you
vent
your
spleen
on
punishing taxation or corrupt
local
politicians
to
your
captive
audience.
Occasionally
you
meet
interesting or eccentric
people,
and
sometimes
you
even
act
as
a passenger's
impromptu
counsellor.
Then,
when
you
have
had
enough after usually a
long
and
tiring shift,
you
go
home.
(Gambetta
and
Hamill,
2005:
p.
1)
Mundane
it
may
be.
It
is
also
relatively
dangerous.
As
Gambetta
and
Hamill's
study
of
taxi drivers
in
Belfast
and
New
York
shows
there
are
certain locations
Contact: Gavin Dingwall,
De
Montfort University, Leicester, LEI 9BH, England
(gdingwall@dmu.ac.
uk)

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