Ethical Considerations: Research with People in Situations of Forced Migration


  • Christina Clark-Kazak Associate Professor, University of Ottawa



forced migration, research ethics, ethics, research with human beings, best practices


Research can contribute to better understanding of the forced migration experience to inform policy and programming, but it can also cause inconvenience and harm to research respondents.[1] In situations of forced migration, the stakes are particularly high because of precarious legal status, unequal power relations, far-reaching anti-terrorism legislation, and the criminalization of migration. In response, the Canadian Council for Refugees, York University’s Centre for Refugee Studies, and the Canadian Association for Refugee and Forced Migration Studies collaborated to complement established ethical principles with specific ethical considerations for research with people in situations of forced migration. This document highlights our guiding principles and applies the ethical concepts of voluntary, informed consent; respect for privacy; and cost-benefit analysis. It is of relevance to anyone involved in gathering information—whether in an academic or community setting—and those who are asked to take part in research.

[1] Recognizing power relations inherent in facilitating true participation, this document uses the term respondent to indicate those individuals who are providing information as part of the research. In some ethics documents, the term human subject is used.

Author Biography

Christina Clark-Kazak, Associate Professor, University of Ottawa

Christina Clark-Kazak is associate professor in the School of Public and International Affairs, University of Ottawa. She may be contacted at



How to Cite

Clark-Kazak, C. (2017). Ethical Considerations: Research with People in Situations of Forced Migration. Refuge: Canada’s Journal on Refugees, 33(2), 11–17.

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