Ethics for development research

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2 Scopus citations


Development ethics emerged as a joint critique of economic development research and practice, giving rise to three alternative traditions: human development, sustainable development, and participatory development. The ethical issues surrounding the mainstreaming of these schools have implications for investigators. In this article, I revisit the transformative values at the root of these traditions to articulate common research principles for an international and interdisciplinary field. Ethicists are asking development researchers to deliver actionable and multiparadigmatic understanding by improving measures, aligning values and approaches, and decolonizing knowledge. While these emerging research models can strengthen development relevancy and impact, they are challenging to facilitate and vulnerable to elite co-optation. Not only should the production of knowledge be rigorous and accurate, but scholars also have a responsibility to query power and embrace difference. The principles presented in this article comprise a set of shared values that may be used as a practical guide for planning, conducting, and evaluating development research across methods, topics, and disciplines.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)395-416
Number of pages22
JournalSociology of Development
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020


  • Development ethics
  • Human development
  • Participatory development
  • Research methods
  • Sustainable development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development


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