In this article we argue that when university researchers engage in democratic participatory action research with schools the process requires a special type of attention to the ethical difficulties which can arise. We note how current professional standards of ethics are inadequate to fully address many of the dilemmas faced in collaborative research. We then share examples of ethical dilemmas that have arisen in our work with schools and demonstrate how each has contributed to the (developing) framework we have created to avoid or manage the kinds of messy ethical issues we describe. We argue that this framework reflects a continuous commitment to an ethics of practice. We believe that those engaged in this type of work must assume an ethical stance and view all decisions in the research process as ethical ones that potentially affect the lives of all of those involved.