RSCH 8300 Week 10 Discussion 2- Ethics in Data Collection
Qualitative research focuses on using observation and interviews to test hypotheses and how humans interact with their environment. In most cases, researchers have to come into close contact with the participants especially during data collection. One of the commonest challenges that researchers contend with while conducting qualitative research or any research in general is finding the equilibrium between research objectives and professional and ethical conduct. The close contact between researchers and participants during data collection in qualitative research means that there are subtle ethical issues that are unique to this research method.
Ethics in Data Collection During Qualitative Research
The informed consent principle of research is one of the causes of ethical dilemma in qualitative research. Reasonably, participants expect to be informed on the research objectives and nature and use such information to decide whether they will participate in the study or not. However, some participants may be coerced from or into participating into studies by authorities, peers and other sources of power. Therefore, their decision may not be expressly based on free will. Sometimes informed consent may be difficult to procure due to language barrier, age limitation and health or mental condition. Even if they give their informed consent, some participants may not be willingly divulge some information if the research becomes too discomforting and intrusive. Some contemporary research settings such as online platforms have no formal guidelines for obtaining informed consent (Sage Publication, n.d).
Depending on the agreement and nature of the sample population, the anonymity and privacy principle of research gives participants a reasonable expectation that their identity and other vital information will be preserved. For institutions and individuals, guaranteeing their privacy and that of the information they provide usually determines the quality of data collected and the overall success of the research. However, guaranteeing privacy may be challenging considering that data processing, analysis and other management practices may require collaboration or use of computers. This diminishes the chances of guaranteeing privacy, which may lead to some participants unwilling to participate in the study (Sage Publication, n.d).
The research design may also lead to ethical issues that may affect data collection. The design may fail to meet the threshold for meeting the participants’ expectation that they will not be harmed during the study. While the researcher has the moral and professional obligation to inform the participants of any potential danger or side effects associated with the study, the participants may decide not to participate in the study and consequently affect data collection and the whole study. In case of harm or side effects associated with the study, the researcher may be forced to forgo or temporarily discontinue the research depending on the severity of the harm or side effects (Orb, Eisenhauer & Wynaden, 2000).
Effective data collection during qualitative research is hinged on the rapport and friendship the researcher builds with the participants. Finding the right balance between building a rapport and friendship is critical in ensuring that the participants disclose only relevant information to researcher. If the researcher ends up building a friendship instead of a rapport, the participants may disclose excessive and personal information that may create a dilemma for the researcher. If the researcher fakes the friendship and the participants realize the deception, data collection will be hampered as they lose trust in the researcher (Sage Publication, n.d).
In conclusion, whether quantitative or qualitative, research is mired in numerous ethical dilemmas. The ability to navigate the resulting ethical moments is the differences between carrying out a successful research or failing.
Orb, A., Eisenhauer, L. & Wynaden, D. (2000). Ethics in Qualitative Research. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 33(1), 93-96.
Sage Publication. (n.d). “Chapter 4: Ethical Issues in Qualitative Research.” London: Sage Publishers. Retrieved from: https://uk.sagepub.com/sites/default/files/upm-binaries/27011_4.pdf