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Ethical Issues in Qualitative Research, Coursework Example

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Coursework

Introduction

Qualitative research has a number of different focal points but in essence attempts to address a perspective of the attitude of people towards their behavioural traits, their value systems, their lifestyle and culture and their needs or desires. In summary qualitative research seeks to answer questions by the collection of evidence and accompanying research in an orderly and systematic way.  Such finding not having a pre-determined result and may cover research that extends beyond the immediate bounds of the study.    When carrying out this form of research it can often create ethical issues such as conflicts of interest, research that contains vulnerable or sensitive information and self-analysis or heuristic studies.

Conflict of Interest in Qualitative Research

The nature and determination of ethical issues in postgraduate and doctoral research can be of a subtle nature.  This particularly with qualitative research, which is more people oriented, as opposed to more scientific quantitative research studies.  Ethical conflicts can arise when the researcher gains access to community groups and how such information and interaction can impact the participants.  This is particularly true in in Social Studies and Medical research. For example the role of nursing research students may find the research role in conflict with their professional responsibilities and duties as clinicians.  (Wynaden, D. 2000).

It was Ramos (1989) who highlighted the three types of ethical problems that may impact qualitative research.  He stated (i) The actual relationship between the participant and the researcher (ii) How the researcher forms a subjective analysais and interpretation of the data and (iii) the actual design of the interpretation of the research.  Whilst certain study areas have increased vulnerability, the issues span over most areas of qualitative research (Wynaden, D. 2000).

Research With Vulnerable or Protected Populations

A good example of ethical issues here relates to the interaction of researchers with that of Prisoners.  The prisoners being a vulnerable population that have been exploited by both physicians, law students and other researchers that try to solve complex research problems.  The ethical issues revolve around the lack of empowerment of the prisoners, the correctional environment settings and limitations of choice imposed upon the participants (prisoners).  Issues can relate to that of informed consent and the prisoners’ rights of refusal. (Marquart, J. 1986)

Self Subject / Heuristic Research

When conducting self-subject research this can range in a number of ethical considerations.  One example being that of qualitative research in relation to families.  Constraints are imposed by the type of qualitative research methods used in particular with relation to participant privacy, confidentiality and use of the research data.  Historically there has been limited amounts of research conducted on the ethical considerations of the research participant groups here. (Larossa,  R. 1981).

Phenomenological Research Ethics

The issue here is one of personal detachment from the research being undertaken.  The researcher having diffuculty only being able to understand the experiences of the participant by the point of departure that is created by the researchers own personal viewpoint. (Haggman-Laitila, A. 1999).

References

D.Wynaden, A. L. (2000). Ethics in Qualitative Research. Journal of Nursing Scholarship Vol 33(1), 93-96.

Haggman-Laitila. (1999). The authenticity of ethics of phenomenological research : How to overcome the researchers own views. Nursing Ethics Vol 6 (1), 12-22.

Larossa, R. B. (1981). Ethical dilemmas in qualitayive family research. Journal of Marriage and Family Vol 43(2), 303-313.

Marquart, J. W. (1986). Doing research in prison: The strengths and weaknesses of full participation as a guard. Justice Quarterly Vol 3 (1), 15-32.

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