Eileen Clark:

Welcome to the final issue of Nexus for 2017. November is traditionally the month when TASA holds its Annual Conference showcasing members’ research and we hope this issue of Nexus will whet your appetites. In the first article, Brady Robards gives some tips on getting the most out of conference attendance. Those who attended the Postgraduate Day at last year’s Conference will remember the lively presentation Brady and Luke Gahan gave on this topic, and I thought their wisdom was worth sharing with everyone. One of Brady’s tips is ‘Find your tribe’, the people who share your interests, and by chance this is a point Dan Woodman raises in his President’s Letter where he reflects on his attendance at the recent American Sociological Association meeting.

The challenge of doing research in an ethical manner is an enduring topic and we have four articles in which researchers present their ideas and experiences of ethical challenges. The first is a provocative article by Alan Scott in which he asks ‘What is the purpose of Codes of Ethics?’ This article is based on one Alan wrote in 1979 and shows how we still have a long way to go in resolving this issue. Elly Leung writes about the ethical challenges of conducting interviews in China, while Natalia Chulio and Eileen Clark both write about issues that may arise when conducting research on people who died many years ago. Chulio has investigated clandestine graves in Spain of people who disappeared during that country’s turbulent past, while Clark reflects on the decisions she made when publishing stories about asylum patients from 100 years ago.

Continuing our publication of short (500-word) accounts of research methodologies of postgraduates in sociology and allied disciplines, this issue of Nexus features two from students from New South Wales. In the first, Ann Lawless reflects on her use of Habermas in her doctoral research and how the understanding she developed affected her lived experience. She was writing after her successful completion. Then Sheelagh Daniels-Mayes explains how she adapted critical race theory to local circumstances and her study of Australian Indigenous, in particular the distinctive Indigenous experience of education in Australia.

There have been several important symposia and other events recently, many organised by thematic groups. We include reports from the Crime and Governance Thematic Group and the recently formed Sociology and Animals Thematic Group, together with details of a workshop to discuss issues of inter-faith engagement and dialogue hosted by HIKMA Research, a multidisciplinary collaborative effort with higher degree research students from various universities in Australia.

The outcome of the Federal government’s postal plebiscite on same sex marriage will be announced shortly. We cannot close without commenting on what a disaster this has been. As sociologists we can criticise the ethics of the survey and methods used for it, or the far-fetched content of advertisers seeking to influence people’s votes. Of far greater significance has been the pain it has caused to many TASA members and others, whatever their sexual orientation or their views on the topic. The acrimonious debate is likely to continue whatever the outcome of the plebiscite and in my eyes, this is a source of shame for Australia.

Finally, the term of the present editors of Nexus finishes towards the end of 2018. A formal call for new editors will go out mid-year. Eileen and Alexia will be at the Conference in Perth and this is a good opportunity for people who may be interested in taking on the role to talk to us informally about it. You can contact us through the Registration Desk.

With best wishes

Eileen Clark, Peter Robinson and Alexia Maddox

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