Ethics are an important consideration for any research project involving human test subjects due to the sensitivities around using other humans for data purposes. These sensitivities were realised after the horrors incurred by Nazi concentration camps were revealed during the Nuremburg Trials of 1946. These trials proved witness to the horrible crimes humans could commit against each other under the name of research. It is clear that those motivated by hate are not the only groups that use inhumane research practices; some operate under the assumption of working for the greater good. The impoverished, destitute, and under-privileged had been inhumanely studied and tested on for years. Due to these discoveries, ethics are now a serious consideration when using human subjects in data collection and research projects around the world.

In regards to our project, there are both formal and informal situations where ethics will come into play. Formal considerations include asking for permission before taking pictures, videos as well as survey questions and results. For this project especially, interview questions and answers are of key importance and thus must be approached through an ethical lens, in our case, through informed consent. Whether through written form or spoken explanation, this means educating the interviewee about why we are asking these questions, how the data retrieved will be used in our project, and what we will do with the information before and after leaving Cape Town.  It is important that the interviewee does not feel pressured to answer a certain question or even allow their picture to be taken if they are uncomfortable in the situation. The data collected from these interviews must be handled carefully since there is a possibility of mixed feelings within the informal settlement.

In order to be ethically considerate toward informal situations we must observe and reflect on our actions through an ethical lens. Informal considerations are just that: informal. Thus, interviews can occur during candid conversations and through our interactions with residents of the Joe Slovo community.  Due to the spontaneity of these situations, a true cultural understanding and open-mindedness will help maintain the shared action learning we hope to employ. Working with the community rather than forcing them to follow our rules will help keep the project focused on the shared learning supported by an ethical mindset.

Throughout interviews, the idea of confidentiality versus anonymity is an important consideration with interviewees in regards to quotations or assumptions drawn from their answers. Offering up the options of remaining nameless or being identified, either by name or pseudonym, coincide with the ethical mindset of this research. It is necessary to consider the implications of revealing one’s identity particularly within the informal settlements where we will be working. The volatile nature of these environments as well as the cultural differences will play a large role in how the data collected is reviewed and reported. These considerations and methods are necessary for quality and credibility of research.