The Control of Foreigners as Researchers in Thailand
Ditton, Mary J.
Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics 2009 September; 4(3): 49-57
AN IMPORTANT ASPECT OF ETHICAL CONDUCT of field research is for the researcher to have an appropriate relationship with the legitimate gatekeepers of the field site. This paper describes our experiences of obtaining approval from regulatory authorities in Thailand for field research on Burmese migrants, and discusses the nature and rationale of such government control in Asia and Western countries. It is intended to guide future humanitarian researchers who are planning to study oppressed groups at politically sensitive research sites where regulatory authorities monitor both research sites and research performance. Thailand, like several other Southeast Asian countries, operates a permit system for foreign researchers. This permit system is designed to promote research activities in Thailand so that the results can be used to further the country's development, and to enhance the cooperation and collaboration between Thai and foreign researchers providing opportunities for the exchange of knowledge, technical expertise, and experience. This control of foreign researchers is not prohibitive; foreign humanitarian researchers can organize research and advance the welfare of targeted oppressed populations in cooperation with government agencies.
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