Seven Snags of Research Ethics on the Qualitative Research Voyage


  •  MacDonald Kanyangale    

Abstract

Responsible researchers with ethically sound research skills are fundamental to success in an ever-changing business and social world. Embedding ethics into research by students seems to be intuitively easy given tight, standardized ethical guidelines and rigorous ethical approval process in the university. In reality, there are Masters and PhD research students who feel ill-prepared when they encounter ethical ambiguities and complexities in the field which are unique, beyond what they had foreseen at the outset of a qualitative inquiry or were prescribed, advised and forewarned by a research ethics committee (REC).

The aim of this conceptual paper is to discuss seven pitfalls of research ethics in a qualitative research voyage in order to educate and sensitize current and prospective research students. The seven pitfalls are: (1) complexity and ambiguity of informed consent; (2) embedding informed consent as a process rather than an event; (3) navigating the moral conundrum of unintentional disclosure; (4) dealing with deductive disclosure; (5) dialectic between participant`s desire for recognition and greater confidentiality; (6) researcher role conflict and (7) difficulty of embedding researcher reflexivity. The paper concludes that only research students who are ethically literate and actively reflexive in the entire research process are more likely to know whenever they encounter ethical pitfalls, deal with them properly; and ultimately entrench relevant skills to conduct ethically sound research. Highlighted are implications for research educators to develop research competence of current and future researchers.

Responsible researchers with ethically sound research skills are fundamental to success in an ever-changing business and social world. Embedding ethics into research by students seems to be intuitively easy given tight, standardized ethical guidelines and rigorous ethical approval process in the university. In reality, there are Masters and PhD research students who feel ill-prepared when they encounter ethical ambiguities and complexities in the field which are unique, beyond what they had foreseen at the outset of a qualitative inquiry or were prescribed, advised and forewarned by a research ethics committee (REC).

The aim of this conceptual paper is to discuss seven pitfalls of research ethics in a qualitative research voyage in order to educate and sensitize current and prospective research students. The seven pitfalls are: (1) complexity and ambiguity of informed consent; (2) embedding informed consent as a process rather than an event; (3) navigating the moral conundrum of unintentional disclosure; (4) dealing with deductive disclosure; (5) dialectic between participant`s desire for recognition and greater confidentiality; (6) researcher role conflict and (7) difficulty of embedding researcher reflexivity. The paper concludes that only research students who are ethically literate and actively reflexive in the entire research process are more likely to know whenever they encounter ethical pitfalls, deal with them properly; and ultimately entrench relevant skills to conduct ethically sound research. Highlighted are implications for research educators to develop research competence of current and future researchers.



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
  • Issn(Print): 1913-9004
  • Issn(Onlne): 1913-9012
  • Started: 2008
  • Frequency: monthly

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