In many academic fields the researcher often financially remunerates both research assistants and participants. Literature covers the ethics involved in paying informants. Both research design and research methodology literature covers many important aspects of the research process, but neither pays much attention to the issue of research assistants. These relationships can be complicated by the dynamics of an outsider researcher working in a southern context. Drawing upon examples of researcher-research assistant in the field, in Tanzania and South Africa, this paper explores the ethics of financial transactions in researcher-assistant relationships and the ways in which wealth asymmetry can affect the working relationship. We conclude by stating our belief that these issues have not been adequately addressed elsewhere, and that there is an imperative for due consideration in training and planning for these relationships to be considered as integral and visible to the research and writing phases.

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