Student Researchers Negotiating Consent in Northern Aboriginal Communities

  • Colleen M. Davison University of Calgary
  • Micaela Brown University of Alberta
  • Pertice Moffitt University of Calgary


In this article, the authors discuss what students are doing to reconcile the differences between institutional ethical review standards and the reality of community-based, qualitative research, particularly in northern Canada. They examine the experiences of 12 students who are currently undertaking or have recently completed qualitative research in the North. Students raised concerns about what informed consent really mean; the contentiousness of obtaining written consent, and modified consent forms and the flexibility of research ethics board (REB) standards. The authors demonstrate that significant judgment is required in the introduction of ethics procedures in northern Canadian research. More work is needed to guide novice researchers and help build their agency for making ethical judgments in the field.