It is disheartening to realize that countless publications have been developed over the past few decades to address unethical research atrocities. Questions of innate human nature aside, the guiding principals used in qualitative research are more that a set of rules for ‘doing no evil’.
Even the most well designed project has the possibility of an ethical issue arising in data collection, many of which will not be black or white. Though they don’t provide hard answers, guiding principals do ground researchers in ethical inquiry so that they can make the best decisions within specific contexts if ethical considerations do arise.
In our presentation tonight, Scott and I will take you on a journey of research ethics, including several situations of which you get to decide – What Would You Do? Here is one to contemplate:
In a study exploring people’s experiences of recovery from a heart attack, an interviewee expressed extreme feelings of worthlessness resulting from his health condition, which meant he was unable to work or to undertake activities he viewed as part of his male identity. Feeling he might be depressed and at risk, the interviewer suggested that he talked to his doctor about his feelings but he said he didn’t want to do that as all the doctor would do would be to give him more medication. He also commented that he didn’t want his wife to know or she would worry. The researcher promised confidentiality but was concerned about his mental health. Should she tell someone about him and if so, who? (Riles, 2012).