Ethical Issues in Qualitative Research
Ethical consideration in the process of research plays an imperative role in promoting research authenticity. Three of the most common qualitative research ethical dilemmas are discussed below.
Conflict of interest
This dilemma arises when financial or personal considerations threaten to compromise objectivity and professional judgment, thus leading to bias during qualitative research. Conflict of interest may emerge from interpersonal relationships, academic interests, financial partnerships, association with particular organizations, and multiple roles within organization among other incentives that may compromise the researcher’s integrity or respect for policy (Quimby, 2012). Conflict of interest has the potential to imperil the integrity of research and impact on participants’ protection. It may also distract the researcher.
Research with vulnerable and protected populations
This refers to research that involves obtaining information from individuals who are incapable or relatively incapable of safeguarding their own interests. Examples include children, mentally disabled, handicapped, institutionalized, very sick, racial minorities, economically disadvantaged, prisoners and neonates (Henry, 2012). This ethical dilemma is based on the Belmont Report on ‘respect for persons and justice,’ which puts two ethical convictions: that individuals need to be dealt with as autonomous agents, and that individuals with diminished autonomy and who require protection have a right to protection.
Self as subject
This dilemma represents a situation in which the researcher is involved in the research as a subject. This rises ethical concerns over whether the researcher can be objective in analyzing information that directly relates to them or whether they will be biased based on their experiences (Wang, 2016). In the case of self-experimentation, the ethical issues emerging include why the researcher does not want other people to benefit from the research and whether the issue of consent is a matter of concern. This is not directly applicable in my research, given that I am not a subject in the study.
Ethical issues in my study
In my study, ethical issues that may arise include privacy, where the respondents may want to keep their involvement in the study confidential. To counter this, I will ensure confidentiality is promoted throughout the research (Leew, Hox & Dillman, 2012). I will also give respondents an opportunity to choose between conducting the interview at work or in a different setting. The second ethical issue is informed consent. This concerns the willingness of the respondents to be involved in the research. Before the commencement of the research, I will ensure that the respondents have agreed to participate, by way of signing a consent form.
Henry, D 2012, Human Subjects Research with Vulnerable Populations, Retrieved from www.ihrp.uic.edu/files/Vulnerability_IHRP_041012.pdf
Leew, E. D., Hox, J & Dillman, D. (2012). International Handbook of Survey Methodology European Association of Methodology Series. London: Routledge.
Quimby, E. (2012). Doing Qualitative Community Research: Lessons for Faculty, Students and the Community. UAE: Bentham Science Publishers.
Wang, S 2016, More Medical Researchers Engage in Self-Experimentation, Retrieved from
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