“The capacity of a person to govern him or herself, on the basis of reasoned decisions and free from controlling influences by others. Autonomy is widely held to involve the capacity for reason and understanding, a degree of self-control, and freedom from coercion and manipulation” (Hughes et al 2010)

As a principle, autonomy is, in general, highly valued in European and other Western countries, while collectivity is valued more highly in the global South (Kara 2018). The implication of this for ethical research practice in Euro-Western settings is that the autonomy of participants and other stakeholders should be respected. In other settings, researchers may need to make a judgement about the implications of respecting collective values, as expressed by community leaders, on hearing views from other members, who may be marginalized or disadvantaged by current arrangements. (see also Principlism)