When concluding the research within the Marks and Spencer marketing department, personal data and confidentiality needs to be maintained. Consent should be sought from the head of the department before concluding any research, and the study questions need to be approved.
a) Informed Consent
An informed consent should be sought from the respondents and the supervisor responsible for the research. The voluntary consent needs to be signed prior to the start of the study, and needs to be developed considering the following:
- The proposed timescale of participation; how many interviews; how many hours, etc.
- Assurance of the security of data collected.
- Does the research need clearance, and whose responsibility it is to obtain it from the leadership.
- Access required
b) Openness and Honesty
- Communicating misleading information needs to be avoided, therefore, the purpose of research and access has to be outlined together with the leadership and signed prior to carrying it out.
c) Right to withdraw
Participants should have the right to withdraw at any time, without providing reasons for that; this needs to be stated on the informed consent form.
d) Protection from harm
The research agreement needs to highlight the methods to be used to protect participants and non-participants from harm. The harm can be ethical, physical, development, self-esteem or career progression.
The debriefing of participants and case supervisors needs to be completed and recorded prior to starting the research. It needs to be informative and easy to understand, including the main areas of the research, a sensitive and informative tone, relevance, explanation on how the research would provide benefits for the student and the industry as a whole.
The confidentiality of personal data needs to be assured. Privacy agreement needs to be signed and the data, personal details, contact information needs to be stored in a safe and secure place, avoiding unnecessary disclosure. Electronic forms of data need to be encrypted and kept safe all the time. All details should be used solely for the purpose they were collected for. Confidentiality and autonomy needs to be maintained in order to protect the interest of non-respondents, though confidentiality and non-identification.
- Access Issues
a) Communication and negotiation
The research questions and outline need to be disclosed prior to the study commences. It should also contain information about deception and its purpose. A good working relationship should be established with the contact person within the Marks and Spencer marketing department responsible for coordination to help the researchers identify the most suitable participants who would be able to answer the research questions accurately.
Building reciprocity with respondents through sharing research findings and trends would be beneficial for the study; provided that all permissions to do so are sought. This is the subject to initial access negotiation with the case coordinators.
c) Gatekeepers and relationships
When the study commences, there might be a need for updates and renegotiation, especially when new data is required or the participants withdraw. Identifying and negotiating with the “gatekeepers” within the department and creating a written outline of the data needed is essential for the success of the research.