Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)

Reflection audit of ‘Chatting about marriage’

11 July 2017

Amidst discussion about the study entitled ‘Chatting about marriage with female migrants to Syria’, the University of Amsterdam convened an external reflection audit to explore issues of research integrity and ethics raised in that discussion.

The University of Amsterdam is grateful to the committee for accepting and carrying-out the reflection audit and delivering the audit’s findings and recommendations.

The research audit affirms that the researchers acted in accordance with existing guidelines and standards of scientific integrity and ethics of the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research and related arrangements agreed with the European Research Council. 

The report of the reflection audit does, however, offer critical insights and recommendations for the study of groups who are difficult to access and of controversial themes. The UvA welcomes and will promote critical discussion of these recommendations, both within its own ranks and externally, so as to facilitate good research practices and, where necessary, to make changes to existing guidelines for such practices.

The reflection audit

The reflection audit was commissioned with respect to a specific case, and its purpose was to gain insights into various challenges of ethics and integrity in research into controversial topics and involving respondents who are extremely difficult to access or interview. The audit entailed interviews with researchers and media representatives involved in the specific case, but also interviews with outside experts and review of relevant research materials.

The reflection audit yields a number of findings and recommendations relating to engagement and transparency in research, and to protecting the safety and privacy of researchers and respondents. The audit also identifies a number of significant dilemmas and makes recommendations about how to deal with those dilemmas, including a recommendation to facilitate and deepen peer review within research groups and research institutes.

Next steps following the audit

The Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR), the Faculty (FMG) and the UvA have confidence in the scientific integrity of the researchers involved, and in the way they have dealt with the ethical challenges of their research, and they welcome an open discussion and debate of the dilemmas raised.

'We will discuss the findings and recommendations of the reflection audit within the research institute and relevant research groups, as well as with the wider academic community. The themes of the audit are in line with protocols on issues of integrity currently being elaborated and implemented by AISSR, the Faculty and the UvA', says research director of AISSR, Professor Brian Burgoon. 'Discussing and debating the audit’s findings and recommendations will benefit this process. We are therefore grateful to the committee members for their conscientious carrying-out of the audit and for delivering their findings and recommendations.'

Published by  AISSR