Developing meaningful autism research: PhD and Early Career Event

Blog post contributed by Juliet Scott-Barrett and Louise McKeever about the SARG PhD/Early Career event funded by the University of Edinburgh Institute of Academic Development:

On the 21st of April 2017 a workshop was held for PhD students and early career researchers titled “Conducting Research in the Field of Autism: Ethics, Methods and Research Experiences”. With attendance from students and researchers from across Scotland the workshop allowed for detailed discussion of practical and ethical dilemmas. Juliet Scott-Barrett opened the workshop, engaging delegates in discussion about their current research and goals for the future.

Talks from Scottish Autism provided insight on two sides of the coin; Research-Informed Practice and Practice-Informed Research. This talk by Jill Ferguson and Joanna Panese provided delegates with information on their current research projects and how to take a practice-research approach to producing knowledge and developing services.

Kabie Brook (Autism Rights Group Highland) and Sue Fletcher-Watson (University of Edinburgh) gave a talk drawing on their expertise and experiences of autism research and the autism community. This included liaising with and learning from your autistic mentor and key considerations when explaining research to autistic people and families. They gave helpful advice regarding how to make research meaningful for autistic people and families, and how to meaningfully engage with autistic expertise in knowledge production.

The keynote speaker (Catriona Stewart) discussed autism research and ethics. Some important issues were raised such as:  ethical issues that have arisen in previous autism research, why it is ethically important to involve autistic people meaningfully in research, and how to address the issues relating to informed consent. Delegates left brimming with ideas relating to better research practice and how to work more closely with the autism community at all stages of research.

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