ArticlePDF Available

Ethics in Qualitative Research: A View of the Participants' and Researchers' World from a Critical Standpoint

Authors:

Abstract

This paper illustrates how certain ethical challenges in qualitative research necessitate sustained attention of two interconnected worlds: the world of the researcher and the world of the participant. A critical view of some of the ethical challenges in the participants’ and researchers’ world reveals that how we examine both these worlds’ effects how we design our research. In addition, it reflects the need for researchers to develop an ethical research vocabulary at the inception of their research life through multiple modes. The modes may include dialogue in the spoken and written and visual to affect their aims to adhere to the principles of respect, beneficence, nonmaleficence, and justice in a way that is mutually beneficial to the participant and the researcher. Further, the deliberations in this paper reveal that a critical conscious research ethics are embedded in the unfolding research ethics process involving the participants and the researchers, and both the participant and researcher add equal weight to the transparency of the ethical process and add value to building methodological and ethical rigor to the research.
64
Article
Ethics in Qualitative Research: A View of the Participants’ and Researchers’ World from a Critical
Standpoint
Dilmi Aluwihare-Samaranayake, MSN, MBA
Doctoral Student
Faculty of Nursing
University of Alberta, Canada
© 2012 Aluwihare-Samaranayake.
Abstract
This paper illustrates how certain ethical challenges in qualitative research necessitate
sustained attention of two interconnected worlds: the world of the researcher and the world
of the participant. A critical view of some of the ethical challenges in the participants’ and
researchers’ world reveals that how we examine both these worlds’ effects how we design
our research. In addition, it reflects the need for researchers to develop an ethical research
vocabulary at the inception of their research life through multiple modes. The modes may
include dialogue in the spoken and written and visual to affect their aims to adhere to the
principles of respect, beneficence, nonmaleficence, and justice in a way that is mutually
beneficial to the participant and the researcher. Further, the deliberations in this paper reveal
that a critical conscious research ethics are embedded in the unfolding research ethics
process involving the participants and the researchers, and both the participant and
researcher add equal weight to the transparency of the ethical process and add value to
building methodological and ethical rigor to the research.
Keywords: critical social theory, critical consciousness, ethics, researcher, participant,
qualitative research
Acknowledgements: The author is grateful to Prof. Wendy Austin, the Interdisciplinary
Research Ethics course (INTD 670) and the PhD program, Faculty of Nursing, University of
Alberta for the open learning environment in which this discourse was allowed to emerge.
International Journal of Qualitative Methods 2012, 11(2)
65
Introduction
In this paper, I examine some of the ethical challenges experienced by researchers and
participants in qualitative research. These challenges represent two diverse but intertwined
epistemological perspectives, which combined demonstrate that (a) negotiated critical
consciousness research ethics depend on unfolding the research ethics process involving the
participants and the researchers, and (b) both the participant and researcher equally contribute to
the transparency of the ethical process and adding value to building methodological and ethical
rigor to the research. Taking a critical social theory stance, I begin by briefly examining the
concept of critical consciousness then examining some of the ethical challenges faced by
participants and researchers within the research context in a discursive form and via reflexive
questions. I believe this form of reflexive questioning can act as a stimulus for developing a
critical consciousness mind frame. The purpose of this paper is to present a comprehensive
review of the literature on some of the ethical issues and perspectives in qualitative research and
propose a critical consciousness stance for addressing these challenges.
Qualitative Research and Ethics
Prior to venturing into the essence of the paper, I briefly visit meanings behind qualitative
research and ethics. Qualitative research has its roots in the human sciences, including such fields
as sociology, anthropology, social work, and education (Buchanan, 2000). In qualitative research
a critical outlook (which engages a thinker in skillful analysis, assessing, and reconstructing), for
instance, supports commitments to (a) capture the voices of participants and represent them and
their experiences in as true a form as possible (Mauthner & Birch, 2002), (b) study persons in
their natural environment, (c) study persons by directly interacting with them, (d) understand the
participant’s social world through the participants’ voices (Buchanan, 2000) and lenses, and (e)
using the participants’ words to tell stories.
A classic definition of ethics is that ethics pertains to doing good and avoiding harm (Beauchamp
& Childress, 1989). In this context ethics has largely been associated with the role of ethical
principles and guidelines advancing the pursuit of knowledge (CIHR, NSERC, SSHRC: Tri-
Council Policy Statement, 2009). However, because critical theories are concerned with the
influence of history on social reality (Punch, 1994) a critical perspective of ethics is concerned
with who gets to decide what is good and what is bad (perhaps with less concern about the
product of that discussion than the process). In addition, adequate research ethics is associated
with obtaining ethics approval from Research Ethics Boards (REBs) and evaluating the
researchers’ adherence to principles of autonomy, confidentiality, respect, beneficence,
nonmaleficence, and justice (Mauthner & Birch, 2002). Guidelines and principles are set with a
view to protect participants and researchers, minimize harm, increase the sum of good, assure
trust, ensure research integrity, satisfy organizational and professional demands, and cope with
new and challenging problems from concern to conduct (Denzin & Giardina, 2007). For example,
history is rife with dark events related to violations of human rights, such as the study involving
more than 400 African American people with syphilis who were left deliberately untreated to
study the illness (Shamoo & Resnik, 2009). Ethical problems in qualitative research (issues that
may rise when a researcher gains access to a community and the effect the researcher may have
on the participants) tend to be subtler than problems in quantitative research (Orb, Eisenhauer &
Wynaden, 2001).
International Journal of Qualitative Methods 2012, 11(2)
66
While the presence of REBs and professional codes give the appearance of a common basis to
resolve ethical dilemmas, the guidelines that arise from these may be in part insufficient causing
the ground to become unstable under the feet of qualitative researchers. This is because the static,
formalized guidelines may render invisible the inherent nature of tensions, fluidity, and
uncertainty of ethical issues arising from qualitative research (Denzin & Giardina, 2007; Lincoln
& Cannella, 2007). Further, the current ethical guidelines do not take full account of the
emotional risks as experienced by the researcher during the process of the research. Moreover, the
complexities of researching private lives and experiences, and divulging accounts in the public
arena1 raises innumerable ethical issues that cannot be solved purely by the application of a
theoretical set of rules, principles, or guidelines. Qualitative research requires ethical guidelines
that incorporate the various nuances of participating (as a participant or researcher) in research
from a praxis and a critical consciousness perspective.
A Critical Consciousness within the Context of Ethical Research
Consciousness has been variously defined as alert or awake, aware of one’s surroundings and of
oneself, aware of something, deliberate or intentional, a conscious attempt, or the part of the mind
that is aware, of a person’s self, surroundings, and thought and that to a certain extent determines
choices or actions (Collins English Dictionary, 2003). This definition incorporates the view that
consciousness is linked with a subjective experience, awareness, the ability to experience, and the
understanding of the concept "self". Influenced by Habermas (1975) I interpret critical
consciousness to represent thinking (through assessing, analysis, and reconstructing) and being
aware from multiple angles from outside in and inside out in the process of creating transparency
to all thoughts, actions, and ways of being, taking into consideration different socio-cultural,
economic, and political contexts. Max Van Manen (1997) complements this view by articulating
that anything that we are aware of at a given moment forms part of our consciousness, making
conscious experience at once the most familiar and most mysterious aspect of our lives. However,
he says that one cannot reflect on a lived experience while living through that experience, and he
cites the experiences of reflecting on one’s anger while being angry. He says that if one attempts
to reflect on one’s anger while being angry, then the anger will have already changed, dissipated,
and taken on new meaning. His view suggests that true introspection is not possible but
retrospection is possible. This indicates that in the process of understanding critical consciousness
it is important to have some views on the terms reflection, retrospection, and critical reflection.
Steir (1991) implies that it is retrospection, reflection, then critical reflection, which involves
bending back on oneself on these lived experiences that may present avenues for persons to feel
empowered and live beyond or through their lived experiences. This is not to downplay however,
the emotional trauma or stress that may be caused to the person at re-living their experience or to
undermine the stress and tensions another may experience vicariously.
Habermas (1975) holds that people create and re-create social reality and they can consciously act
to change their social and economic circumstances. Although it may be possible for people to
consciously change their circumstances, people’s abilities to change their circumstances are
constrained by various forms of social, cultural, economic, and political domination. In this
context researchers hold special obligations toward oppressed populations, and have a
responsibility for social critique, illuminating the restrictive and alienating conditions of the status
quo (Punch, 1994). Punch suggests that critical researchers are required to focus on conflicts,
contradictions, and oppositions, including imbalances of power in contemporary society, and seek
to eliminate the causes of alienation and domination. This thought lends the view that
participating in qualitative research activities should enable participants to expect something
more significant than bourgeois respect, courtesy, and honesty. They have a right to the social
power, empowerment, and emancipation that comes from the rising knowledge (Tisdale, 2008)
International Journal of Qualitative Methods 2012, 11(2)
67
and having their stories told. In addition, while during an exchange with participants it may not be
possible for a researcher to achieve a complete balanced power relation. It may be possible for the
researcher to achieve and be comfortable with a constant shift in power balance and dynamics
with participants in the process of accessing their stories. Alongside the empowerment of
participants I believe a parallel empowerment should come to the researcher to motivate that
researcher to continue on a critically conscious ethical research trajectory.
Friere (1993) indicates that in the process of emanating representations from a participant’s
experiences, researchers must engage in a goal of critical consciousness. Critical consciousness is
a process where one is reflective, self-aware, and is also involved in critically questioning one’s
consciousness to open one’s mind, which Garcia, Kosutic, McDowell & Anderson (2009)
suggests prevents shortsightedness. According to Friere, the goal of critical consciousness in
research would be for the researchers and participants to both reflect and participate in meaning-
making and emancipation. He suggests that the thinking subject does not exist in isolation but,
rather, in relationship to others in the world. He implies that a negotiated2 critical consciousness
will provide the researcher with the capacity to enable the participants to transform from their
position of vulnerability or oppression and find their own voice bringing their cultural and socio-
political construction of self and experience to the foreground. In this way, critical consciousness
is a process that is both cognitive and affective involving a reflective awareness of the differences
in power and privilege and the inequities that are embedded in social relationships. Further, a
critical consciousness prompts researchers to present research as more than a translation of
content - as a projection of a critical comprehension of reality (Friere, 1993). A critical
consciousness will facilitate the researcher (a) to develop a lens devoid of obsolescence and
myopia; and (b) an opportunity to have a better transformative emancipatory and egalitarian
(Hooks, 2000) understanding of the participant’s world, including problems of representation and
power orientations (intended and unintended). In other words, I conceive the evolution of a
shared transparent and democratic world between the researcher and participant. The researcher
may then report from that world with minimal harm (the duty to do no harm or maleficence) and
an increased sum of good (the duty to good or beneficence).
With this view, I believe that developing a critical consciousness will involve questioning and
reflecting on how participants and researchers can work together to ensure that the participants’
voices and experiences are represented with due considerations to respect for persons, justice,
nonmaleficence, and beneficence.3 It may involve questioning whether the prior identified
principles are enacted via informed consent, the assessment of risks and benefits for the
participants and in turn for the researcher, and fair and equitable selection of participants.
Other questions that the researcher may reflect on may include: do only participants face the
social reality of ethical challenges or do researchers also face them? If participants and
researchers face ethical challenges, what are they and how are they addressed, or how should they
be addressed? How do participants and researchers deal with issues of oppression and unbalanced
power? How do researchers avoid traps and risks inherent in research, such as the cost of the
emotional involvement? How are the consequences of participants reliving their negative
experiences during the course of interviews or observing accounts or visual images of their
personal experiences in the public arena dealt with? Is there someone accountable for the
suffering that may be experienced by participants at reliving their negative experiences? How are
researchers brought up on a diet of research ethics to ensure that they operate within a healthy
research ethics frame? These questions, I believe, facilitate driving a critical consciousness and
directing an ongoing stream of praxis in the process of understanding the participant’s and
researcher’s world in the context of a negotiated research ethics. Perhaps when drawing up
proposals, a section of the proposal must pay attention to answering the above type of questions
International Journal of Qualitative Methods 2012, 11(2)
68
to improve the egalitarian nature and transparency of the ethical process of the research. In
addition, perhaps inclusion of a section reflecting on questions such as the above mentioned
would facilitate the decision-making of REBs.
Participant’s World
Critical consciousness demands attention to the nuances of participant recruitment,
representations of participant’s voices, and involvement of vulnerable populations. (Denzin &
Giardina, 2007; Long & Johnson, 2007).
Nuances related to participant recruitment and decisions to participate
Nuances surrounding participant recruitment and decisions to participate may involve issues
related to socio-cultural and political context, trust, knowing and being known (Eide & Allen,
2005), and reimbursement of participants’ time and expenses (Head, 2009). When approaching
participants, traditional procedures emphasize the importance of access to official and unofficial
gatekeepers. This is because it is often only through these gatekeepers that researchers gain
access to potential participants. Potential ethical conflicts may exist however in how researchers
gain access to a group of persons and the effects the researcher may have on the participants (Orb
et al., 2001). For example, paying or not paying can have important effects in terms of
agreements reached with gatekeepers and encouraging or discouraging potential participants to
take part in the research (Head, 2009). A recent example of deception is the study where army
volunteers were given USD 2000 for all of them to be bitten by malaria mosquitoes (Doughton,
2008). Deception has also been used in obtaining participation for qualitative research studies in
forensic units (Clarke, 1996). Another growing area of confusion and uncertainty is participant
observation, public versus private ownership, confidentiality and anonymity in research carried
out using Net-based devices and Web-based cameras (Kanuka & Anderson, 2007).
In contrast to these examples, benefits and positive consequences of investing in developing trust
between participants and researcher are illustrated in other projects. For example, through a photo
voice project in a lower income, African American, urban community Carlson, Engebretson, and
Chamberlain (2006) were able to generate a social process of critical consciousness. They were
able to develop this by inviting participants in the study to take photographs of things in the
community of which they were proud, things they wanted to change and tell a story of why these
were important. Thus, the socio-cultural context in which the research is planned, and the trust
participants may have in the researcher has an effect on the success with which the researcher is
able to recruit participants.
On a different note, qualitative studies are often conducted in settings involving participation of
people in the researcher’s everyday environment (Orentlicher, 2005). Any research conducted in
such an environment may raise questions related to risks to the participant, particularly the
consequences of refusal to participate. Participants may feel pressured to participate out of a
sense of duty or because they believe in the good of the researcher (Holloway & Wheeler, 1999)
or any other secondary motivation that reflects the power differential in the participant-researcher
relationship. Additionally, researchers themselves may worry about coercion if people associated
with their everyday environments are recruited. Conversely, the researcher may paternalistically
assume that participation will benefit a person negating the potential harms arising from
exploitation and exposure to inappropriate questions and participants divulging more information
than they initially envisaged (Richards & Schwartz, 2002). Researchers are obliged to embed
methods that ensure the participants are not coerced and not feel that the treatment they receive is
influenced by their decision to participate or not. The researchers must put the person first before
International Journal of Qualitative Methods 2012, 11(2)
69
the research without feeling constrained by the pressure to carry out the research in a way that
prevents them from putting the participant first and considering the effect of the research on the
participant. Moreover, researchers must define guidelines as to how follow-up care will be
provided to participants in the event of undue emotional stress caused to the participant during the
course of the study (Richards & Schwartz, 2002).
Accessibility may also depend on the researcher’s knowledge of the study context and the
gatekeepers. Further, a researcher may reflect on how to negotiate access to participants to collect
data because the quality of the social interaction between the researcher and the participant may
facilitate or inhibit access to information (Orb et al., 2001). Denzin (1989) suggests that
presenting vitality and rigor in interpretive sufficiency involves “taking seriously the multiple
interpretations of people’s lives and experiences grounded in cultural complexity” (pp. 77, 81).
Cultural complexity affords power distance, and the amount of diversity of statuses, roles, wealth,
and power within a society increases with its complexity, although there is latitude with how
these differentiations are perceived and managed (Allen & Liu, 2004). For example, if I am trying
to capture the experiences of a whole range of social groups, do I use a sample for my
convenience or do I make attempts to examine the needs of a multi-layered society through a
sample of participants from different layers? How do I identify the different layers in an unknown
society that reflects shades of layers? Is the diversity of a population hidden in research reports
although genuine efforts are made to recruit participants? Is this because of the values, customs,
and unwillingness of persons to use services through which they may be recruited? Or does a
participant’s trust or mistrust of the researcher, their cultural lens, previous encounters with
research, or nature of influence received intervene in the participant’s decision to participate or
not participate? These questions I believe are important to address when thinking about and
planning recruitment for a study.
Williamson (2007) suggests that researchers must ensure participants are fully aware of what they
are getting into so that they can give an informed consent4 prior to participating. For example, I
imagine that researchers are obligated to balance the value of knowledge to be acquired against
any anticipated distress or other adverse experience for participants. Particularly if the
participants of the research are children or young persons who have been exposed to abuse or the
research includes persons from other vulnerable groups. A standard method for informing
participants is the use of an informed consent sheet. An informed consent sheet has contents
related to the purpose and duration of the study, nature of involvement, and how the
confidentiality of the participants and of their contributions (Miller & Boulton, 2007; Williamson,
2007) will be ensured. This suggests that to facilitate participants’ full understanding, the study
information sheet must be written in a manner to meet the reading levels of the participants
(Franck & Winter, 2004). However, if a person is not in a position to read, does it mean that the
person still has the capacity to make the decision, but his/her capacity to make the decision is
impaired? Or is it that he is impaired but he still has the capacity to make the decision therefore
his opportunity to make the decision must not be eliminated? Perhaps this is an important
tension–that many of our research participants are part of vulnerable groups, that the possibility
of ethical violations are high among these groups, yet these are the very groups that may need our
research the most.
Involvement of vulnerable populations
The Nuremberg Code drafted in 1947 indicates that the voluntary consent of the human subject is
absolutely necessary (Ghooi, 2011). Similarly, the CIHR, NSERC, SSHRC: Tri-Council Policy
Statement, (2009) advocates that the ethics of research involving human subjects must include the
selection and achievement of morally acceptable ends and the morally acceptable means to those
International Journal of Qualitative Methods 2012, 11(2)
70
ends. This suggests that ethics in research must not only consider the protection of human
subjects but also consider what constitutes socially responsible research (Schwandt, 2007). A
critical ethical concern is the protection of vulnerable persons (persons that are unable to protect
themselves). Vulnerable persons can include those who (a) lack or have an abundance of
autonomy or resources, (b) cannot speak for themselves or are institutionalized, (c) engage in
illegal activities or those (d) who may be harmed by the information revealed about them as a
result of the research or those (e) who may incur emotional harm through viewing distressing
information related to themselves as a result of the research (Shamoo & Resnik, 2009). Children
and adolescents are considered to be a vulnerable group. Ethical practices with these groups must
address issues of risk and maturity, privacy and autonomy and parental permission, including
when parental permission can be waived and the assent of an institution such as a school where
the research is to be conducted must be obtained (Shamoo & Resnik, 2009). Other vulnerable
populations include people with psychiatric illnesses, the elderly, those who are impaired visually
or cognitively, persons in families at risk of spousal abuse or neglect, or persons that are
substance or alcohol over users, forensic patients (Miller & Boulton, 2007), the poor, and certain
races. Participants and/or guardians (family or otherwise) of vulnerable persons must be made to
understand the responsibility of participating in the research prior to giving consent. I believe this
is important because of the ethical issues that can arise between the investigators’ own ethics,
identifying problems that cannot be solved, and balancing demands made by the participants and
benefits available to the participants during the research process. Parallel to this, it is vital that the
researchers take into account the participant’s and/or guardian’s competence to give consent as
well as participant’s vulnerability to coercion, openness to lack of confidentiality, and the conflict
of interest between the research ethics and the researchers own ethics (Beauchamp & Childress,
1989; Shamoo & Resnik, 2009).
Representation of the person, participant’s voice, and experiences
How are participants’ voices and experiences captured? Christians (2007) suggests that one of the
tenets of qualitative research is enabling the humane transformation of multiple interpretations of
the spheres of people’s lives and community experiences. He cites Friere who speaks about the
need to re-invent power rather than take, transform, or translate power. For example, in the
process of avoiding the creation of oppressive power blocs and monopolies I infer that the
pressure on researchers is to create avenues for persons participating in the research to achieve
empowerment. This leads to the question then, how do we represent ethically the reality of
person’s experiences in a manner to avoid leaving that person feeling disempowered, oppressed,
and vulnerable to emotional stress? Perhaps the answer lies in the need for developing a shared
critical consciousness between participant and researcher through an emancipatory strategy such
as dialogue, reflexive questioning, and listening. Perhaps, the dialogue can take the form of being
mutually reciprocal, intimate and vulnerable, and involve a power distribution as in Alcoholics
Anonymous (Christians, 2007).
In contrast, Rorty (1979) cites Kuhn’s critics who propagate the dogma that it is possible to truly
ethically represent when there is a relationship to reality. Rorty suggests that this outlook portrays
objectivity as a view that is reached un-repelled by “irrelevant considerations” and “representing
things as they really are” (p.334), which propagates the questions; (a) can things be really
represented the way they are or, (b) are things perceived as being really represented rather than
being actually represented, or are representations based on perceptions? He perceives that for
purposes that are non-philosophical, no problems will arise with this view of objectivity.
However, he suggests troubles will arise with this view if moves are made to justify answers by
constructing epistemological and metaphysical questions related to what one can be objective
about, the discovery of the unknown, discovery about contact with reality, truth as a means of
International Journal of Qualitative Methods 2012, 11(2)
71
communication or association, and the level of accuracy of representation. Instead, Rorty (1979)
advocates looking for meanings and steering away from the view of objectivity as representing
“things” as they really are by engaging in continuous reflection, questioning, dialogue, and praxis.
This view indicates that Rorty wants us to drop our quest for objectivity, and to embrace a
contingent understanding of phenomenon and human problems, and engage in research to find
solutions to these problems. Yet, given our own way of being in the world, and given our
humanness, and the nature of qualitative research, which is to portray people’s lived experiences,
is it possible to be emotionally detached and be truly objective in representing people (Aluwihare-
Samaranayake, 2010)? Or when representing people perhaps it is acknowledged that what is
articulated and presented as objective is the amalgamation of the participant’s voice, or in other
words, the interpretation of the participant’s contribution to the experience, and the researcher’s
interpretation of the participant’s experience and its validation by the participant.
Similar to Rorty (1979), Lerum (2001) implies that expert objectivity can serve to cloak
colonialist, exploitative relationships between experts and participants. She notes that some critics
have requested the end to the pursuit of objectivity in favor of interpretive approaches.5
Nevertheless, although it seems contradictory to what Lerum supposes here initially, that
objectivity is something bad, she further postulates that, although critiques of objectivity are
inspiring, there is an urgent need to reintegrate the concept of objectivity into critical analysis.
Because she says objectivity facilitates the creation of politically effective knowledge. Lerum
(2001) argues, and I concur, that the pursuit of objectivity per se is not the biggest roadblock to
producing critical knowledge. Rather, problems of objectivity are rooted in the larger issue of
emotional detachment, which is implicit in the standard scientific method, but problematic, as
adherence to one particular methodology may stupefy the development of critical knowledge.
Further, our inherent state of sentient humanness and the nature of our way of being in the world
hinder the required ability to objectively view phenomena from a standpoint of emotional
detachment.
Lerum (2001) posits that critical analysis occurring from an objective and subjective lens and
taking place on individual, institutional, and cultural or structural levels improves the ability to
contextualize the informant and verify the power relations within that context. As a result of this
contextualization and verification, the informant can be grounded inside a reflective social map
that can then be soundly critiqued, as it allows for political justification. Because critical
knowledge recognizes unbalanced power and takes sides, Lerum (2001) suggests that there is a
symbiotic relationship between subjective data and critical knowledge, postulating “without being
rooted in highly subjective and emotionally engaged experiences, objective knowledge has no
hope of being critical” (p. 480). Thus, she argues for the need for objective knowledge to be
rooted in subjective experiences, to facilitate public acknowledgement, reflection by authors, and
critical analysis and validation.
The whole truth cannot be gleaned by relying purely on subjective data. This is not to say that this
is a problem, because from a critical standpoint certain truths are more valid than others. It is with
this thought in mind that I advocate that representation of people’s voices necessitates the need
for a shared dialogue and a critical consciousness approach to research ethics in qualitative
research. I believe this will facilitate representing people’s experiences and voices in an inter-
subjective manner. Munhall (2004) refers to inter-subjectivity as being authentically present, and
requires “one to situate knowingly in one’s own life and interact with full unknowingness about
the other’s life” (p.240). However, Pierson (1999) suggests that this process is fraught with issues
related to the polarization of inter-subjectivity within either a traditional scientific position of
reductionism and generalization, or a human science perspective that draws on the personal,
uniqueness of human experiences. Nevertheless, in support of the argument for a critical
International Journal of Qualitative Methods 2012, 11(2)
72
consciousness, in representation and ethical research, I posit that the ability of seeing and
representing the phenomena is not outside cognition or consciousness (Husserl, 1999). Further,
the inter-subjective interaction can be considered as moral, because social dialogue or discourse
requires a "considerateness" of each for the other. Thus, misrepresentation can be avoided if
researchers are cognizant of their theoretical approach to the research and consider ways in which
their personal and professional characteristics may affect the interpretations of the data (Richards
& Schwartz, 2002) and representations of participants’ voices. This is not to negate however that
the perspectives on ethics that I am putting forward here have less relevance for researchers
holding a different theoretical/philosophical approach.
Researcher’s World
Ethical challenges related to the researcher’s world include managing risks and the process of
dealing with the emotional content of research, self-disclosure and management of risks for
researchers, and issues with the peer review process or the Research Ethics Boards (REB)
(Denzin & Giardina, 2007; Williamson, 2007).
Managing risks and the process of dealing with the emotional content of research
In qualitative research the evolving nature of the relationship between the researcher and the
participant is partially shaped by the researcher’s personal characteristics such as race, class, age,
and gender (Ladson-Billings, 2003; Li, 2008). Van Manen (1997) suggests that ethical pitfalls are
inherent in qualitative research; however, I believe unexpected mistakes occurring in qualitative
research are less addressed. For example, ethical unsoundness or physical and emotional risks to
the researcher can arise in qualitative research if the researcher (a) faces aggression from the
participant, (b) undertakes fieldwork at premises unfamiliar to the researcher, or (c) divulges too
much personal information during the process of the research (Dickson-Swift, Kippen, &
Liamputtong, 2010; Williamson, 2007). Ethical or moral distress can also occur when the
researcher relives his or her own personal experience through the voice of the participant’s
similar experience. It has been identified that researchers, research assistants, and transcriptionists
involved in research related to violence or any form of emotional trauma have experienced
physical and emotional symptoms (Etherington, 2007).
Perhaps the researcher may discover that no allowances have been made for insurance or
indemnity cover in the event they feel the stresses associated with being involved in the research
and desire to withdraw from the study because the study has become unsafe for them to continue
(Williamson, 2007). Or in contrast, perhaps at a later date the researcher realizes that he or she
does not have publication rights or the intellectual property rights have not been clearly defined
or agreed upon, and the roles and responsibilities of all those involved in the study have not been
clearly identified. In addition, what if the researcher finds that he or she does not have the power
to deal with complaints or the risks arising out of the research? Worse still, fraudulent data is
discovered which can cause harm to the participants, and the researcher and his or her team are
held accountable for the consequences without the support of an REB? These thoughts I believe
again raise questions as to what extent the researcher has expended time and effort to reflect on
managing the risks and process of dealing with the physical and emotional content of research.
This raises the questions as to whether it is (a) possible for the researcher to withdraw from the
study if the study becomes unsound for them to continue, and whether (b) this issue (the issue of
the risk of withdrawal) needs to be addressed with REBs in the proposal submission for
consideration stage. For example, within a proposal, in addition to including a section that
provides details on how the participants will be protected from harm, a section should be added to
International Journal of Qualitative Methods 2012, 11(2)
73
address how the researcher and others involved in the research will be protected from harm. This
section can include areas related to how the researcher will manage the concern of self-disclosure,
exiting the research if the research becomes unsound, how the researcher will deal with the
blurring of boundaries, and strategies the researcher will adopt to avoid potential risks and pitfalls
of the planned research (Dickson-Swift et al., 2010).
Denzin and Giardina (2007) stress the need for researchers to acknowledge that they can
withdraw from a study if the study becomes ethically compromised. Dickson-Swift, James,
Kippen, & Liamputtong (2008) suggest that these risks to researchers can be minimized if
knowledge about risks in research is disseminated, and systematically structured research ethics
education is accessible and required. In addition, Denzin and Giardina pose that policies must be
in place to deal with potential risks associated with research. Similar avenues for participants to
debrief on the participation in the research process via accessing support services may be equally
valuable; it is imperative that a mechanism for researchers, research assistants, and
transcriptionists to debrief and receive the physical and emotional support that they require also
exists.
Research Ethics Boards (REB) and Peer Reviews of Qualitative Research
The CIHR, NSERC, SSHRC: Tri-Council Policy Statement (2009) suggests that the REB should
adopt a proportionate approach based on the general principle that the more invasive the research,
the greater should be the care in assessing the research. The concept of invasiveness is related to
notions of establishing rapport, in-depth interviewing, sensitive research, and vulnerable
participants/subjects. Further, REBs are required to consider issues related to rigor, privacy, risk,
regulation, suppressing creativity, and benefit of the potential research.
There are dangers in an ethical universalism that ignores the complex nature of qualitative social
research (Miller & Boulton, 2007). For example, REBs are tasked with the responsibility of
ensuring respect for research participants, that participants enter research voluntarily and with
sufficient information of the research procedures and possible consequences. Incorporated with
this are the tenets that individuals are treated as autonomous agents and persons that are immature
and incapacitated are entitled to protection (Christians, 2007). REBs are given the responsibility
to ensure that researchers consider the well-being of their subjects, and if risks are involved, to
minimize harm. They are also expected to ensure that the proposed research has taken into
consideration the notion of fair distribution of the benefits and burden of research. For example,
they must ensure that the research avoids the overuse of research subjects because of their
availability or malleability (Christians, 2007).
From another angle, Denzin (2003) articulates the view that the individuals or communities that
allow the researchers into their lives and lived experiences join qualitative researchers in painting
their pictures in a reciprocal manner. He further advances the view that this may require the
participants in the research to have an equal say in how the research is conducted, what is studied
and what is valid, and how findings are reported and how the consequences of the published
findings are assessed. In this instance, are issues of informed consent and deception non-issues?
Perhaps on the one hand, if researchers strongly advocate and are mindful of people’s rights,
REBs, informed consent, and deception are non-issues, but the need to obtain informed consent
exists to protect the individual from harm and deception (particularly given the history of past
research atrocities and deceptions). However, in another vein, would an individual focused,
biomedical oriented REB based on principles and procedures have the effect of protecting
institutional power structures and perpetuating inequities while precluding research aimed at
changing community environments (Malone, Yerger, McGruder, & Froelicher, 2006)? Perhaps
International Journal of Qualitative Methods 2012, 11(2)
74
there is a need for greater dialogue about the distinctions between individual behaviors and
institutional practices, the practical nature of risk calculations, and the potential for institutional
conflicts of interest in risk-averse academic environments.
Are academics socially positioned in ways that may blind them to the power dynamics embedded
in the ethical decision making required of qualitative research? Perhaps this depends on the
researchers’ own academic and research orientations and lenses through which they view the
world. Which leads to questioning whether people’s class and intellectual culture influence moral
analysis more than many academics assume or want to acknowledge? Or have institutional
mechanisms grown so pathological that they encourage well-meaning people to make mistakes in
judgments by creating space for procedures rather than explaining, practicing, and justifying
moral judgments (Schwandt, 2007)? Perhaps justifying moral judgments are viewed as being
harder than explaining that one followed the rules even if applying the rules, principles, or
guidelines carries less weight than applying common sense (Schwandt, 2007). Which leads to the
question, how many persons serving on REBs reflect on how their class and intellectual culture
influence their decision-making about the viability of proposed research? Researchers who serve
on REBs have multiple demands on their time, and perhaps studies that fit neatly into the
biomedical ethics model are welcome because they do not require additional deliberations.
Without doubt, there are many perspectives on these questions. Perhaps our answers to these
questions may heighten enthusiasm to raise critical ethical consciousness in all those engaged in
the qualitative research ethics process, expanding our ethical dialogues. These dialogues can
happen between persons from different philosophical, biomedical, and sociological backgrounds,
and the public. Raising critical ethical consciousness involves expanded ethical dialogues beyond
procedural, principle-based approaches because no single voice captures the whole or captures
what is important in ethical decision-making. Perhaps addressing issues in REBs is located in
learning and re-learning about critical ethical consciousness via learning to critically question and
re-question how researchers think, how researchers or academics involved in REBs think, and the
entire research process. Perhaps this needs to occur while also ensuring that proposals submitted
are transparent and as much as possible have attempted to answer all possible questions from
different angles. This is not to negate the importance of having a form of consensus and
standardization of expectations of researchers across the board. Although standardized
procedures must not be turned into mechanisms to “contain” complex social worlds and research
encounters in neat boxes (Miller & Boulton, 2007).
Learning Critical Consciousness for Ethical Research
How do we learn ethical critical consciousness for ethical research? Developing critical
consciousness for ethical research is an ongoing process that lends itself to multiple modes such
as dialogue, the written, and visual with a mix of persons from different cultural, educational, and
philosophical backgrounds (Denzin & Giardina, 2007; Keith-Spiegel, Whitley, Ware-Balogh,
Perkins, & Wittig, 2002; Kumagai & Lypson, 2009). Raising critical consciousness in research
ethics does not have to unsettle, stun, and immobilize researchers and decision-makers. Rather, it
prompts us to find ways to foster critical questions and reflect about how and what we are doing,
what is happening, what we are, see, and hear.
Shifting briefly to the emotional wellbeing of researchers and REB members and educating
researchers to be critically aware, is it justifiable to show learners a film or photograph portraying
a seriously distressing experience (Keith-Spiegel, et al., 2002)? Does the educational benefit of a
potentially distressing experience depicting the atrocities of war (such as rape and abuse)
outweigh the distress itself? If not, perhaps the film or photograph should not be shown in a class,
although it could be put on a recommended viewing list and optional viewing accompanied by an
International Journal of Qualitative Methods 2012, 11(2)
75
appropriate content warning. Conversely, if the educational value of a film or photograph that
upsets a learner outweighs the possible distress, perhaps there is an obligation to minimize the
distress by warning the learner about the nature of the film or photograph by discussing the film
or photograph with the class, explaining the purpose of showing it to the class and exploring the
meaning (Keith-Spiegel, et al., 2002). Further, perhaps there is benefit in encouraging the learner
to talk privately with the instructor about the film or photograph and discuss reactions to the film
or photograph following the film or photograph presentation. Perhaps there is a need to inform
learners of potential risk or adverse reactions that they may have to the material and inform them
of available support services.
Alternately, if the aim of the film or photograph is to help learners to be critically conscious, a
film or photograph that stimulates multiple thoughts would be more appropriate (Martin, Garica,
& Leipert, 2010). For example see Figure 1, which depicts a picture of a little girl in the face of
abject poverty (Aluwihare-Samaranayake, 2009). Perhaps discussions can arise about the ethics
of using her picture to visually represent happiness in the face of poverty or can be used to ask the
question “whose concern is it”? The picture presents a little girl on the railway track (doorstep) of
her home, happy and oblivious to the poverty, squalor, and danger of her living environment. I
believe this picture and perhaps similar pictures presents an opportunity for raising critical
consciousness without causing personal and great emotional distress for the viewer of the picture
because this picture presents an opportunity for dialogue on many different issues. This is not to
invalidate the emotions that may arise in the observer to want to change the little girl’s life for the
better (as perceived by the observer). Some of the issues are that the child belongs to a vulnerable
population (she is a child); the little girl’s home is near the railway tracks and is possibly unsafe;
the picture depicts poverty; unknown to her parents or guardian she is on the train track, yet for
the little girl she is happy and it is her home. On the one hand, one may question that it is difficult
to see the relevance of this picture to this paper. However, it is included here to elucidate the idea
that stories captured from photo’s, participatory photojournalism and visual story telling can help
persons develop a critical consciousness because it allows questions to be raised, thinking and
analysis from different angles about different issues. For example, a strategy for teaching and
learning critical consciousness can involve the participation of learners in taking photographs and
telling stories about the photographs. Another strategy could involve a visit to an art gallery to
study paintings to see what can be seen beyond what immediately meets the gaze. However, as
mentioned previously, I suggest that seeing out from inside and seeing in from outside requires a
multi-pronged approach that includes skillful thinking, assessing, analyzing, and re-constructing
taking into consideration different socio-cultural, political, and economic contexts.
Figure 1. Smile and Be Happy
International Journal of Qualitative Methods 2012, 11(2)
76
I propose that there is no single way to learn to be critically conscious. Perhaps learning critical
consciousness requires a marriage of a multitude of philosophical orientations, and a continuously
flowing and permeable multiple resource mechanism that also includes a willingness and
openness to participate in listening, questioning, reflexivity, and dialogue. Perhaps within learned
structures, academics, researchers, and participants (including the public) all need to invest in
learning to develop an empowering and continuously reflexive and questioning ethical mentality
that will help build a critically conscious ethical researcher. Further, I do not wish to propose that
a critical perspective (or critical consciousness approach) will facilitate guiding all forms of
qualitative research, particularly analysis, given that methods such as phenomenology look
primarily to pre-reflective understandings. Although emancipative changes may occur for the
participant in a phenomenological study as personal experience is articulated (e.g., a richer,
deeper understanding of one’s own experience of power may be achieved), that is not the intent
of such research. In other words, although phenomenological research cannot be framed as
emancipatory, given its philosophical underpinnings, it does give voice to human experience, and
perhaps this is emancipatory in itself. Nonetheless, through qualitative research methods
researchers may acutely feel the close relationship built between themselves and the researched,
and the power of the research to both help and harm. Further, qualitative research may also lead
the researcher to feel burdened by ethical responsibilities. This can lead to implications in various
objectionable situations such as in the case of Russel Ogden (a Canadian graduate student) who
successfully argued for researcher-participant privilege when his research records on assisted
suicide involving persons with AIDS were subpoenaed by a coroner (Palys, n.d; Palys, 1997).
The risk involved to the researcher and/or the participant can vary from being trivial to profound,
physical to psychological, individual or social (CIHR, NSERC, SSHRC: Interagency Advisory
Panel on Research Ethics, 2009). Further, the intangible nature of social, psychological, legal and
dignitary risk as well as the inability to specify genuine benefits actually raises the ethical stakes
in qualitative research (Schwandt, 2007). Moreover, although a researcher may strive to do no
harm but do good with the best of intentions, a researcher may be blindsided by his or her
carelessness (Tisdale, 2008) and myopia.
Conclusion
Qualitative research is used as a means to explore and capture persons’ subjective experiences,
meanings, and voices and can result in ethical challenges for participants and the researchers.
Consciousness has been linked with subjective experiences, and reflective awareness of the
differences in power and privilege and the inequities that are embedded in social relationships.
Further, critical consciousness is presented as a mechanism that can project a critical
comprehension of reality.
Deconstructing ethical challenges in the participants’ world, I believe that the participants’
experiences are socio-culturally and politically embedded and nuances relating to recruitment and
decisions to participate may involve issues related to socio-cultural and political context in which
the study is carried out, trust, knowing and being known by gatekeepers and or researchers, and
payment or non-payment of participants. Further, the possibility exists that ethics in research
must not only consider the protection of human subjects but also consider what constitutes
socially responsible and acceptable research. Moreover, one can conclude that when interpreting
spheres of people’s lives and community experiences, it is crucial to adhere through dialogue and
critical consciousness and through an inter-subjective lens to the principles of respect,
beneficence, nonmaleficence and justice to ensure that the research is enabling for the participant
and facilitates humane transformation to achieve empowerment.
International Journal of Qualitative Methods 2012, 11(2)
77
In contrast to the challenges faced by participants, it appears possible that the nature of the
relationship between the researcher and the participant can result in ethical unsoundness or
physical and emotional risks to the researcher. Steps are required in the planning phase to address
mechanisms that must be taken to help researchers overcome ethical or moral distress. Further, I
believe that there is an inherent need for greater dialogue about the distinctions between
individual behaviors and institutional practices, the practical natures of risk calculations, and the
potential for institutional conflicts of interest in risk-averse academic environments.
Decoding the politics of the issues raised in this paper, it is possible that there is an intrinsic need
for researchers to develop an ethical research vocabulary at the inception of their research life and
be involved in a continuous learning process through a marriage of multiple philosophical
orientations and multiple modes, written, verbal and dialogue, listening, and visual about ethics in
research to develop a critical ethical consciousness. This is more so because the nature of
qualitative research includes dealing with persons’ subjective experiences, meanings, and voices,
and these are embedded in socio-cultural and political contexts.
In conclusion, I find that in delving into the different challenges in the participants’ and
researchers’ worlds through a critical social theory lens I have only been able to superficially
touch upon the issues. Therefore, on reflection, I believe that there is much more to be explored
that is beyond the scope of this paper. Further, I posit that a more critical discourse with a critical
consciousness lens is required to address the ethical challenges in qualitative research faced by
participants and researchers. In this paper many questions have been raised and I believe more
“applied” study needs to be done, beyond the theoretical and propose that research needs to be
carried out on the critical research experience. Finally, I posit that we need to ensure that we
approach the entire research process in a critically conscious ethical manner, one that will
promote respect, beneficence, nonmaleficence, and justice both for the participant and the
researcher.
Notes
1. I refer to accounts published in the written or visual form.
2. Negotiated because Friere suggests that the discourse is both cognitive and affective and may
lead to an engaged discourse that is collaborative and oriented to problem solving and a re-
humanizing of human relationships (Friere, 1993).
3. Respect involves honoring and caring for a person and treating that person with dignity.
Beneficence on the other hand, means to do good and cannot be quantified nor can meaning
be attached to acceptable risks or clearly define what benefits may serve the larger cause.
Justice extends beyond fair distribution of the benefits of research across a population and
involves principles of care, love, kindness, fairness and commitment to shared responsibility;
to honesty, truth, balance, and harmony (Denzin & Giardina, 2007).
4. Parahoo (2006) describes informed consent as the “process of agreeing to take part in a study
based on access to all relevant and easily digestible information about what participation
means, in particular, in terms of harms and benefits” (p. 469).
5. I refer to employing principles of “different voices” and researcher reflexivity, and the use of
personal narratives and reading of data as symbolic text rather than raw evidence in
considering interpretive approaches (Lerum, 2001).
International Journal of Qualitative Methods 2012, 11(2)
78
References
Allen, M.W., & Liu, J.H. (2004). Cultural complexity. In C. Spielberger (Ed.), Encyclopedia of
applied psychology (pp 539-544). Oxford, Boston: Elsevier Academic Press.
Aluwihare-Samaranayake, D.S. (2010). Interpretation: A political and social practice, Advances
in Nursing Science, 33 (3), 256-268.
Aluwihare-Samaranayake, D. S. (2009). Smile and be happy. Photograph submission for the Asia
Pacific Academic Consortium for Public Health (APACPH) Photographic Competition.
Taipei, Taiwan, 3-6 December 2009.
Beauchamp, T.L, & Childress, J.F. (1989). Principles of biomedical ethics. New York, NY:
Oxford University Press.
Buchanan, E.A. (2000). Ethics, qualitative research, and ethnography in virtual space, Journal of
Information Ethics, Fall, 82-87.
Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of
Canada, & Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (CIHR, NSERC,
SSHRC (2009). (Revised 2nd draft). Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for
Research Involving Humans (TCPS), Retrieved from http://pre.ethics.gc.ca/eng/policy-
politique/initiatives/revised-revisee/Default/
Carlson, E.D., Engebretson, J., & Chamberlain, R.M. (2006). Photo voice as a social process of
critical consciousness, Qualitative Health Research, 16(6), 836-852.
Christians, C.G. (2007). Neutral science and the ethics of resistance. In N.K. Denzin & M.D.
Giardina (Eds.), Ethical futures in qualitative research: Decolonizing and politics of
knowledge (pp. 44-66). Walnut Creek, California: Left Coast Press.
Clarke, L. (1996). Convert participant observation in a secure forensic unit. Nursing Times,
92(48), 37-40.
Collins English Dictionary: Complete and Unbridged (6th ed.). (2003). New York, NY: Harper
Collins Publishers.
Denzin, N.K. (1989). Interpretive biography. Newbury Parks, CA: Sage.
Denzin, N.K. (2003). Performance ethnography: Critical pedagogy and the politics of culture.
Thousand, Oaks, CA: Sage.
Denzin, N.K., & Giardina, M.D. (2007). Decolonizing and politics of knowledge: Ethical
futures in qualitative research. Walnut Creek, California: Left Coast Press.
Dickson-Swift, V., James, E.L., Kippen, S., & Liamputtong, P. (2008). Risk to researchers in
qualitative research on sensitive topics: Issues and strategies. Qualitative Health
Research, 18, 133-144.
International Journal of Qualitative Methods 2012, 11(2)
79
Doughton, S. (2008). You can get paid to catch malaria. The Seattle Times, 6th March. Retrieved
from http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/health/2004261357_malaria05m.html
Eide, P., & Allen, C.B. (2005). Recruiting transcultural qualitative research participants: A
conceptual model. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 4(2), 44-56.
Etherington, K. (2007). Ethical research in reflexive relationships. Qualitative Inquiry,
13, 599-616.
Franck, L., & Winter, I. (2004). Research participant information sheets are difficult to read.
Bulletin of Medical Ethics, February, 13-16.
Friere, P. (1993). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York, NY: Continuum.
Garcia, M., Kosutic, I., McDowell, T., & Anderson, S.A. (2009). Raising critical consciousness
in family therapy supervision, Journal of Feminist Family Therapy, 21, 18-38.
Ghooi, R.B. (2011). The Nuremberg Code-A critique. Perspectives in Clinical Research, 2(2),
April-June, 72-76.
Habermas, J. (1975). Legitimation crisis (Thomas McCarthy, Trans.). Boston: Beacon Press.
Head, E. (2009). The ethics and implications of paying participants in qualitative research.
International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 12(4), 335-344.
Hooks, B. (2000). Feminism is for everybody: Passionate politics. Cambridge, MA: South End
Press.
Holloway, I., & Wheeler, S. (1999). Ethical issues in qualitative nursing. Nursing Ethics, 2, 223-
232.
Husserl, E. (1999). The train of thoughts in the lectures. In E.C. Polifroni & M.
Welch (Eds.), Perspectives on philosophy of science in nursing (pp. 247-262).
Philadelphia: Lippincott.
Kanuka, H., & Anderson, T. (2007). Ethical issues in qualitative e-learning research,
International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 6(2), 1-14.
Keith-Spiegel, P., Whitley, B.E.Jr., Ware-Balogh, D., Perkins, D.V., & Wittig, A.F. (2002). The
ethics of teaching: A case book (2nd ed.). Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum
Associates, Inc.
Kumagai, A.K., & Lipson, M.L. (2009). Beyond cultural competence: Critical consciousness,
social justice, and multicultural education. Academic Medicine, 84(6), 782-787.
Ladson-Billings, G. (2003). Racialized discourses and ethnic epistemologies. In N. K.
Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), The landscape of qualitative research: Theories and
issues (pp. 398-432). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
International Journal of Qualitative Methods 2012, 11(2)
80
Lerum, K. (2001). Intimate ethnography, and the production of critical knowledge.
Qualitative Inquiry, 7(4), 466-483.
Li, J. (2008). Ethical challenges in participant observation: A reflection on ethnographic
fieldwork. The Qualitative Report, 13(1), 100-115.
Lincoln, Y.S., & Cannella, G.S. (2007). Ethics and broader rethinking/reconceptualizations. In
N.K. Denzin & M.D. Giardina (Eds.), Decolonizing and politics of knowledge: Ethical
futures in qualitative research. Walnut Creek, California: Left Coast Press.
Long, T., & Jonson, M. (2007). Research ethics in the real world, Edinburgh: Churchill
Livingstone, Elsevier.
Malone, R.E., Yerger, V.B., McGruder, C., & Froelicher, E. (2006). It’s like Tuskegee in
reverse: A case study of ethical tensions in institutional review board of community
based participatory research. American Journal of Public Health, 96(11), 1914-1919.
Martin, N., Garcia, A.C., & Leipert, B. (2010). Photo voice and its potential use in nutrition and
dietetic research, Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research, 71(2), 93-98.
Mauthner, M., & Birch, M, (2002). Ethics in qualitative research. London, Thousand Oaks, CA:
Sage Publications.
Miller, T., & Boulton, M. (2007). Changing constructions of informed consent: Qualitative
research and complex social worlds. Social Science & Medicine, 65, 2199-2211.
Munhall, P. L. (2004). “Unknowing: Toward another pattern of knowing in nursing (pp. 239-
246). In P. G. Reed, N. C. Shearer & L. H. Nicoll (Eds.), Perspectives on nursing theory.
Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
Orentlicher, D. (2005). Making research a requirement of treatment: Why we should sometimes
let doctors pressure patients to participate in research, Hastings Center Report, 35 (5), 20-
28.
Orb, A., Eisenhauer, L., & Wynaden, D. (2001). Ethics in qualitative research. Journal of
Nursing Scholarship, 33(1), 93-96.
Parahoo, K. (2006). Nursing Research. Principles, Process and Issues (2nd ed.). Basingstoke:
Palgrave Macmillan.
Palys, T. (n.d.). Russel Ogden case. Retrieved from http://www.sfu.ca/~palys/OgdenPge.htm
Palys, T. (1997). Research decisions: Quantitative and qualitative perspectives (2nd ed.).
Toronto, ON: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.
Pierson, W. (1999). Considering the nature of inter-subjectivity nursing, Journal of Advanced
Nursing, 30(2), 294-302.
International Journal of Qualitative Methods 2012, 11(2)
81
Punch, M. (1994). Politics and ethics in qualitative research. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln
(Eds.), Handbook of qualitative research (pp. 83-97). Newbury Park, CA: Sage
Publications.
Richards, H.M., & Schwartz, L.J. (2002). Ethics in qualitative research: are there special issues
for health services research? Family Practice – An International Journal, 19(2), 135-139.
Rorty, R. (1979). Philosophy and the mirror of nature. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton
University Press.
Schwandt, T.A. (2007). The pressing need for ethical education: A commentary on the growing
IRB controversy. In In N.K. Denzin and M.D. Giardina (Eds.), Decolonizing and politics
of knowledge: Ethical futures in qualitative research. Walnut Creek, California: Left
Coast Press.
Shamoo, A.E., & Resnik, D.B. (2009). Responsible conduct of research (2nd ed.). New York:
Oxford University Press.
Steir, F. (1991) "Introduction: Research as self- reflexivity, self-reflexivity as social process". In
F. Steir, Research and reflexivity (pp. 1-11). London: Sage.
Tisdale, K. (2008). Being vulnerable and being ethical with/in research. In K.B. De Marrais, &
S.D. Lapan, Foundations for research: Method of inquiry in education and the social
sciences (inquiry and pedagogy across diverse contexts series). London: Lawrence
Erlbaum Associates.
Van Manen, M. (1997). Researching lived experience: Human science for an action sensitive
pedagogy. Ontario, Canada: The Althouse Press.
Williamson, T.K. (2007). The individual in research. In T.Long & M.Johnson (Eds.), Research
in the real world (pp. 9-28). London: Churchill Livingston.
... Questionnaire research does not fall within this act and does not require ethical review, unless the questions are burdensome, intimate, or if completing the questionnaire is time-consuming [37,38]. In our case, participants were not patients, children, or vulnerable persons, and the topics addressed did not relate to their health, traumatic events or sensitive matters [39]. Furthermore, the time required to answer was short (maximum 15 minutes). ...
Article
Full-text available
Background Systematic reviews (SRs) are cornerstones of evidence-based medicine and have contributed significantly to breakthroughs since the 1980’s. However, preclinical SRs remain relatively rare despite their many advantages. Since 2011 the Dutch health funding organisation (ZonMw) has run a grant scheme dedicated to promoting the training, coaching and conduct of preclinical SRs. Our study focuses on this funding scheme to investigate the relevance, effects and benefits of conducting preclinical SRs on researchers and their research. Methods We recruited researchers who attended funded preclinical SR workshops and who conducted, are still conducting, or prematurely stopped a SR with funded coaching. We gathered data using online questionnaires followed by semi-structured interviews. Both aimed to explore the impact of conducting a SR on researchers’ subsequent work, attitudes, and views about their research field. Data-analysis was performed using Excel and ATLAS.ti. Results Conducting preclinical SRs had two distinct types of impact. First, the researchers acquired new skills and insights, leading to a change in mindset regarding the quality of animal research. This was mainly seen in the way participants planned, conducted and reported their subsequent animal studies, which were more transparent and of a higher quality than their previous work. Second, participants were eager to share their newly acquired knowledge within their laboratories and to advocate for change within their research teams and fields of interest. In particular, they emphasised the need for preclinical SRs and improved experimental design within preclinical research, promoting these through education and published opinion papers. Conclusion Being trained and coached in the conduct of preclinical SRs appears to be a contributing factor to many beneficial changes which will impact the quality of preclinical research in the long-term. Our findings suggest that this ZonMw funding scheme is helpful in improving the quality and transparency of preclinical research. Similar funding schemes should be encouraged, preferably by a broader group of funders or financers, in the future.
... Following being well structured, the researchers conducted coordination with and socialization to the batik artisans group in Girilayu regarding research activities and the data collection process [26]. This step ought to be done to obtain permission and approval from the artisans as well as the local community leaders regarding the research process [27]. Interviews were conducted in several stages with an open interview character and tiered according to the role or the position of the informants with the questions about the sustainability of batik in Girilayu [28]. ...
Article
Full-text available
Batik is a technique of decorating cloth with motifs containing philosophical meaning using a tool called canting like a pen to engrave a kind of ink from liquid wax. This study aimed to determine the methods used by batik artisans in Girilayu to survive and continue the tradition. The research method used was qualitative with observations and interviews to collect the data and followed with literature studies to complete the data which couldn't be reached by observation and interviews. The study found that in addition to practicality and modernization reasons, there are spaces or gaps that unknowingly become the cause of the declining interest from the younger generation to continue batik as a hereditary tradition. Some efforts to teach the virtues of life guidelines inherited by KGPAA Mangkunagara I through Mbok Semok batik motif. Moreover, open collaboration as a new strategy to expand batik products marketing by establishing collaboration with national fashion designers has succeeded in making batik tradition in Girilayu survive and increase the interest of the younger generation to learn and to continue family batik business and eventually to preserve batik tradition.
Article
Full-text available
This paper aimed to understand the experience of college students who studied under a faith-based institution, especially in Thailand. By using a one-on-one interview form, the researcher collected data of eighteen participants who regularly studied in a faith-based institution. Each interviewee was asked a list of ten questions focused on their personal demonography, feeling, thinking, and experience about four major aspects of the topic-physical, mental, spiritual, and social. All participants completed providing the answers under the normal condition. Through reading the transcribed texts several times, the data were formed into different categories and themes for analysis. The result showed that students had positive perspectives about faith-based institutions. Health educations that applied religious' principles were taught both direct-lessons and indirect-encouraged programs. Moreover, these institutions provided healthy environments and mental support systems for students to grow their mental health and spiritual life. Both religious and non-religious students reported the effective teachings of faith-based institutions which changed their perceptions and behaviors positively in terms of social interaction development.
Thesis
Full-text available
Nursing has always been an occupation where students require substantial levels of clinical placement and professional experience prior to registration. Nursing education is now undertaken at a tertiary level in Australia and students are required to complete no less than 800 clinical placement hours during their pre-registration degree. Without clinical placements, student nurses cannot learn practical skills in an authentic world setting. The aim of this study was to develop a substantive theory that presents an understanding of the factors that influence clinical placement providers to offer clinical placements for preregistration nursing students and concomitantly to contribute to an understanding of why clinical placements are not offered. The study used a qualitative approach and was guided by a Grounded Theory methodology. Semi-structured interviews were undertaken with nine persons who self identified as the person who made the decisions to accept or decline pre-registration nursing student clinical placements. Analysis of the data was based on the Grounded Theory constant comparative method. The resulting Grounded Theory for this Master’s research is the theory of ‘Relational Strength’. This substantive theory asserts that the primary influence when offering clinical placement for pre-registration nursing students is the Strength of the Relationship between the universities and the Clinical Placement Provider (CPP). Understanding the factors that influence CPPs to offer clinical placements for pre-registration nursing students will afford higher education and health service providers’ valuable information to assist in ensuring appropriate clinical placements continue to be offered for pre-registration nursing students.
Article
Informed by our personal stories of diaspora as first-generation Greek-Americans and as queer artists-activists, we intimately connect to social justice issues surrounding the intersections of migration and sexuality. In this article, we present various ethical tensions and dilemmas we encountered in a community-based, arts-informed research project with fourteen LGBTQ+ refugees and asylum seekers living in Athens, Greece. In partnership with a grassroots collective known for its advocacy for and with LGBTQ+ refugees, we implemented photovoice methodology to explore the themes of identity, belonging, physical and mental health challenges of displacement, and hopes for a future without borders. The purpose of this article is to use an anti-oppressive approach to unpack the complex layers of power dynamics, positionality and privilege, relational interactions, and ownership of the data throughout the research process. Specifically, we discuss these concepts through the following stages: building trust within the community, capturing visual narratives with the help of interpreters, sharing the artwork with the broader community, negotiating the politics of representation, navigating ownership of the data, and maintaining relationships beyond the project. As we critically reflect on our research process and product, we conclude with lessons learned and advocate re-envisioning arts-based research to include an anti-oppressive approach.
Article
Full-text available
Hong Kong was one of the first public school systems in the world to shift to online learning in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Primary and secondary school language teachers had to adapt instruction to cater to their students' diverse linguistic and educational needs. Drawing from the European Framework for the Digital Competence of Educators (DCE), the current study examines the experiences of primary and secondary school English language teachers’ digital competence as they navigated digital resources, teaching and learning, assessment, and empowering learners in an emergency remote teaching context. Using a two-stage design, this study drew from qualitative survey data (N = 73) and follow-up interviews (N = 10). Findings illuminate how language teachers responded to their students' educational and linguistic needs in online environments. Notably, educators adapted their virtual instruction to cater to students with varying English language proficiency levels and leveraged both synchronous and asynchronous platforms to best support student learning. Moreover, the current study sheds light on how the DCE framework might be used as a tool to assess the digital competencies of educators and better prepare them for virtual teaching. It concludes with a call for more research on emergency remote teaching, particularly within primary and secondary language classrooms. Free view and download unit 19th November, 2021. Follow the link: https://authors.elsevier.com/c/1dqZb,7ttA2Q9Q
Thesis
Full-text available
Paramedicine in Australia began with first aid troops and railway corps providing first aid from the turn of the nineteenth century, and the profession advanced rapidly in the late 1900s. Across this period, we have seen a shift from basic first aid training and driving people to hospital, to minimum requirements of tertiary education and training in advanced life-saving techniques. With this change in basic training, paramedicine protocols have advanced and become more sophisticated. This study is the first of its kind to investigate protocols within the profession of paramedicine, and to examine their fundamental value as decision-making tools. Paramedics within Australia have utilised protocols since the 1970s. Before that time, they often used protocols developed for first aid training. After the training level of intensive care paramedic was introduced in the mid-1970s, societal expectations of pre-hospital care changed. Many ambulance services have moved to the use of guidelines as opposed to protocols, sparking a debate on their relative benefits. Guidelines are considered to offer paramedics more freedom for independent thought, and less focus on set instructions, whereas protocols are stricter and more algorithmic. Constructivist grounded theory was used as the methodology for this study, with interview data gathered within a cyclic framework until theoretical saturation occurred. Interviews were conducted with paramedics, historians and creators of the protocol documents from several states within Australia. Data were also gathered from the New South Wales Ambulance protocols, and the protocols for resuscitation, mental health and epilepsy were analysed in detail. The analysis of the protocols and the interviews identified that educational background, vocational or university, has a significant influence upon how paramedics consider their ownership of their education and consequently their ability to transition to higher levels of independence in using protocols and clinical decision-making. Additionally, the paramedics’ scope of practice and length of service were also associated with particular trends in using protocols. Paramedics use protocols not only for patient care, but as teaching and training tools, especially those following a vocational model of education. Later in their career most paramedics discard their protocol book and use it as a reference only when they feel they need a refresher. This can be problematic with regards to maintaining best practice and mitigating risk. During the interviews and the analysis of the protocols, it became evident that protocols are valued by organisations as tools to monitor paramedic performance and to meet organisational and governmental key performance indicators. Fundamental to creating ‘good’ protocols that are functional, guide best practice, and are translatable to the ‘on-road’ environment, is understanding who the audience is and considering the expectations/requirements of both the paramedic and the organisation. The findings of this dissertation led to the development of substantive theory on building trust and managing risk: using protocols and guidelines to guide clinical decision-making. The Model of Purposes for Paramedic Clinical Practice Guidelines was also constructed as a framework to assist in the development of paramedic guidelines which can be tailored to each organisation. Together, this theory and model provide a significant contribution to knowledge by providing the first detailed analysis of how (if and why) paramedics use (or don’t use) protocols to makes decisions about patient care. Understanding these processes is critical to improved practice, patient outcomes, and advancement of the profession of paramedicine.
Article
Aim and background The aim of this study was to investigate students’ attitudes, rationales, and approaches to making open educational resource (OER) videos (a form of OERs) on sustainable development (SD) in order to identify students’ competencies and effective pedagogical designs. Method Students registering for a teacher training course were invited to design and create pedagogies, make OER videos, and share the videos on YouTube on five SD topics: sustainable lifestyle, campus, community, enterprise, and earth development. The students provided their weekly journals and a final reflection on the whole process of making the OER videos on SD. This study used qualitative data analysis and text mining methodologies to analyse students’ process data of making OER videos on SD. Results and discussion The analysis results revealed that making OER videos on SD needed students’ ideational, inquiry, societal, and disciplinary competencies. Inferred pedagogical suggestions for practitioners to support students in making digital products on SD are to follow a linear pathway from ideational creation, inquiry process, societal transformation, to transdisciplinary reflection.
Article
Full-text available
This paper highlights how a study was carried out by the researcher while preserving ethical elements. This paper entails the stages that the researcher undertook to get herself permitted to enter the place that homed her research and take her participants on board. This paper also illustrates ethical issues faced by the researcher in gaining information from the participants through interviews and observation, analyzing data, and reporting the research. This paper may benefit new researchers who are going to collect their data, predominantly with human participants in a research site.
Article
Full-text available
Working with diverse populations poses many challenges to the qualitative researcher who is a member of the dominant culture. Traditional methods of recruitment and selection (such as flyers and advertisements) are often unproductive, leading to missed contributions from potential participants who were not recruited and researcher frustration. In this article, the authors explore recruitment issues related to the concept of personal knowing based on experiences with Aboriginal Hawai'ian and Micronesian populations, wherein knowing and being known are crucial to successful recruitment of participants. They present a conceptual model that incorporates key concepts of knowing the other, cultural context, and trust to guide other qualitative transcultural researchers. They also describe challenges, implications, and concrete suggestions for recruitment of participants.
Chapter
Natural thinking in science and everyday life is untroubled by the difficulties concerning the possibility of cognition. Philosophical thinking is circumscribed by one’s position toward the problems concerning the possibility of cognition. The perplexities in which reflection about the possibility of a cognition that “gets at” the things themselves becomes entangled: How can we be sure that cognition accords with things as they exist in themselves, that it “gets at them”? What do things in themselves care about our ways of thinking and the logical rules governing them? These are laws of how we think; they are psychological laws — Biologism, psychological laws as laws of adaptation.
Book
Cover Blurb: Researching Lived Experience introduces an approach to qualitative research methodology in education and related fields that is distinct from traditional approaches derived from the behavioral or natural sciences—an approach rooted in the “everyday lived experience” of human beings in educational situations. Rather than relying on abstract generalizations and theories, van Manen offers an alternative that taps the unique nature of each human situation. The book offers detailed methodological explications and practical examples of hermeneutic-phenomenological inquiry. It shows how to orient oneself to human experience in education and how to construct a textual question which evokes a fundamental sense of wonder, and it provides a broad and systematic set of approaches for gaining experiential material that forms the basis for textual reflections. Van Manen also discusses the part played by language in educational research, and the importance of pursuing human science research critically as a semiotic writing practice. He focuses on the methodological function of anecdotal narrative in human science research, and offers methods for structuring the research text in relation to the particular kinds of questions being studied. Finally, van Manen argues that the choice of research method is itself a pedagogic commitment and that it shows how one stands in life as an educator.