Ethical Issues in Qualitative Data Collection

Ethical Issues in Qualitative Data Collection

Chinami McLain (University of North Texas, USA) and Jeonghyun Kim (University of North Texas, USA)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2730-5.ch007
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Ethical considerations are an important part of qualitative research as a multitude of ethical questions can arise during data collection, fieldwork, data analysis, and reporting. The primary goal of this chapter is to illustrate the various ethical issues and dilemmas qualitative researchers may face, particularly during data collection. First, ethical issues that have to be considered when undertaking qualitative research will be discussed. Then ethical issues involved in conducting various qualitative data collection methods, such as observation, interview, and focus group, will be discussed. Common issues discussed are followed by solutions and recommendations directed to researchers conducting qualitative research. Finally, the chapter concludes with the limitations of the discussion and suggestions to expand research into a new direction.
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Ethical Considerations In Qualitative Data Collection

In qualitative research, the valuable data and information that facilitates the understanding of the phenomena/problems in question is primarily provided by individuals who are willing to contribute part of their life, such as their time and insight, to research studies; therefore, they should be given a great deal of respect. In addition, great care should be provided to their contribution and the data collected so that their well-being, including physical and mental states and social status, is maintained.

Various ethical issues arise at every step of the research process as the balance between values to research and well-being of participants needs to be maintained for ethically sound research and the integrity of data. It should be emphasized that research participants will be influenced by researchers in some way and to some degree during the data collection phase, as this is the phase when the interaction among the researcher(s) and participants happens and more often than not, the interaction is direct and face-to-face.

Although the relationships between and among ethical issues involved in research are complex and cannot be explained linearly, this particular phase of qualitative research involves certain ethical questions. Researchers need to ask themselves whether:

  • What they are asking participants to do would harm them in any way,

  • Participants would be forced to do or say things against their will;

  • How the privacy of participants and the confidentiality of collected data will be maintained.

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