My Best-Worst Day in Ukraine: On Research, Relationships and Other Contradictions from the Field

“The very existence of my research site is unethical … My university Institutional Review Board (IRB) did not prepare me for any of this.”

–Jonathan Stillo, “Research Ethics in Impossibly Unethical Situations” (posted 21-Dec-2011 on the weblog)

Recently, someone commented that my research project is a good match for the foundation that awarded my dissertation grant because, “[that group] likes sexy research.” I was momentarily speechless — a rare event for me. My work? “Sexy?” I had never thought of what I do in these terms. No. My work is slow. And boring. And dirty. It involves lots of smelly night trains and wearing the same shirt for several days at a time. It involves spending lots of money on hand sanitizer and facemasks, always having butter cookies and mediocre chocolates on hand to feed to strangers, and forcing yourself to remember that people who look as though they are on the verge of death aren’t always. There’s no glory in travelling with toilet paper or eating cold pizza for breakfast or feeling like an intruder in someone else’s medical care.

Perhaps there is some truth in my colleague’s observation, though. Perhaps I was guilty of highlighting flashy elements and intrigue in my research. In my funded grant proposal, I described my aims like this:”

The whole text of the article, here.