ABSTRACT

Visually orientated educational research, relative to orthodox educational research, is a 'newcomer' to the qualitative research field. As such it lacks a history of accepted ethical practice or a range of theoretical positions on which to base ethical judgements. This chapter does not focus on a general set of ethical principles that are the benchmark for 'wordsmiths' but instead considers common ethical predicaments that result from applying an imagebased approach to qualitative research. Those involved who make and use images in a research context are ethically obligated to their subjects. There are moral and political reasons for this. Future visual researchers require access to images and image-making possibilities if image-based research is to make a significant contribution to qualitative research. To gain and maintain that access, to stay in potentially stimulating visual contexts, there is a need to secure the confidence of respondents and fellow researchers. Establishing respondents' confidence means assuring them that they will not be 'damaged', misrepresented or prejudiced in any way; in terms of researchers' confidence it means agreeing ethical procedures that protect respondents yet ensure the trustworthiness of findings. Image-based research, being a relative newcomer to interpretative studies, needs theoretical and methodological tenets on which to base its credentials. However, confidence in image-based investigations will be generated only when ethical principles are agreed between researchers and researched, and within the research community, and adhered to by visual researchers across a range of visual contexts.