Real life research, real life dilemmas
Public health researchers are often confronted with complex dilemmas impinging upon community identities, individual vs collective risks and power relations between gate keepers and research participants. Our Theme section presents five case studies exploring some real life dilemmas faced by research scholars in India, each accompanied by a commentary reflecting on their varied facets and possible solutions to the ethical problems raised. The Theme editorial explains the need for context-specific public health research in low- and middle-income countries and the rationale behind generating these case studies. Another editorial analyses the background to the recent celebratory public response to encounter killings of rape/murder suspects in Hyderabad.
An array of articles examine the adequacy of ethics-related guidelines for authors in Indian journals, the unexpected ways in which field researchers are viewed by interviewees in qualitative studies, and how medical ethics is practised in laboratory science. In the public health space, authors look at possible reforms in the current highly problematic surgical camp model; the dilemmas of practitioners treating “lean” diabetes in deprived communities; and the management of latent TB.Student authors share their perspectives on mandatory vaccination, and on moral and legal challenges arising in foetal surgery. Discursive reviews of books and films enliven this issue, along with letters and a poem on the Kashmir that was.
Cover credit: “Spring is in the air” by Dr C Priyadarshini