chapter  5
Understanding ‘the community’ in rural community research
Pages 13

This chapter offers some reflections on theory and practice in the context of rural research. These reflections are based on the author's experiences as researchers in a wide range of rural projects and settings. While 'rural' is generally used to describe 'country' Australia, the authors use this term to denote non-metropolitan areas, including very remote communities. In general, 'rural' refers to communities that are: geographically isolated, sparsely populated, distant from services, culturally diverse. The chapter focuses on three ethical principles of respect, responsibility and reciprocity because they help remind people that social research is situated in social, historical, cultural and place-based contexts and perspectives. The concept of 'two-way' working together in the context of research encourages an approach that draws equally upon Western and non-Western knowledge, skills and research methodologies. One area in which researchers need to act responsibly is in protecting confidentiality. This is often a commitment given in writing as part of a consent-seeking process.