GRADE Initiative "Ethics and (self-)reflexivity in qualitative research"

Focus and general goals

Research ethics – described as the debate on ethical principles which (should) guide the relationship between researcher and research participants and our work as researchers – is a topic that has been only marginally debated inside German Academia.
Research ethics should be understood as an ongoing process of (self-)reflection during the research process rather than a search for a standardized answers to “moral” dilemmas. It goes way beyond practical issues of data protection, anonymity and the principle of "do no harm" and takes into account several critical issues emerging in the relationship between researcher and research participants and from the encounter of their positionalities. Research ethics are therefore tightly connected not only to methodological issues but also to the capacity of the researcher to engage in a process of (self-)reflexivity.

Engaging with research ethics means e.g. reflecting on issues such as:

  • How can power inequalities in the research context be recognized and conceptualized in our work?
  • How can we deal with research participants that belong to vulnerable groups while at the same time recognizing and encouraging their agency?

  • How can we deal with personal and trust relationships that are established in the field?

  • How can we manage our position as researchers and what are our role and our responsibilities towards our research participants and towards society in general?

  • What should be the aim of research? Can the interest of researcher, of research itself and of participants be combined

We want to create a space for open discussion and (self-)reflexivity on e.g. the above mentioned issues. The aim of the group is to accompany the members in a reflexive process through fieldwork and during the stage of data analysis, to discuss about issues emerging during the research but also to share, analyze and reflect together on literature that engages with ethical issues, positionality and self-reflexivity in qualitative research. The group should offer an opportunity to combine and take into account various perspectives coming from different streams of literature (e.g. feminist literature, queer and postcolonial literature).

Meeting and activities

The GRADE Initiative meets on a regular basis. Dates and content of the meeting are previously arranged between the members.

In 2015, the GRADE Initiative “Ethics and (self-)reflexivity in qualitative research” co-organized the International Graduate Conference of the Cluster of Excellence “The Formation of Normative Orders” entitled “The Power of/in Academia: Critical Interventions in Knowledge Production and Society”.


We welcome new members! If interested in joining the GRADE Initiative, please contact us.

We will contat you as soon as possible.


Aisha-Nusrat Ahmad, FB 03 Gesellschaftswissenschaften
Dissertation Project: Lebenswelten älterer HIV-infizierter Migrant*innen in Deutschland. Zur Intersektion von Differenzerfahrungen im biografischen Kontext

Flaminia Bartolini, FB 03 Gesellschaftswissenschaften
Dissertation Project: Doing intimacy in „illegality“: Experiences and strategies of undocumented female migrants in Germany and in Italy

Susanne Becker, FB 03 Gesellschaftswissenschaften
Dissertation Project: Sprache und soziale Ungleichheit

Johanna Leinius, FB 03 Gesellschaftswissenschaften
Dissertation Project: “Constructing Solidarity in the House of Differences”: Decolonizing Social-Movement Alliance-Building through Inter-Movement Encounters

Mirjam Tutzer, FB 03 Gesellschaftswissenschaften
Dissertation Project: Postcolonial Governmentality, Subjectivity and Agency: Translation and (Re)formulation of the Bangladeshi Idea of Microfinance in Africa.

Affiliated members

Lisa Abbenhardt (LMU München)
Dissertation Project: Zwischen Hilfebezug und Markterfolg. Eine anerkennungstheoretische Analyse prekärer Solo-Selbstständigkeit

Gianna Magdalena Schlichte (TU Darmstadt)
Dissertation Project: The role of truth and justice for victims in the discourses of legitimacy at the International Criminal Court and the practice of victim participation (working title)