Chapter 6: Research Ethics

Marvasti comments about the example of his dealings with Gregory: ‘Thinking about these stories may cause you to wonder if you would have handled these situations differently. Perhaps I was too involved with Gregory and should have severed my ties with him much earlier’ (2004: 133).

  1. Do you agree with Marvasti’s self-criticism?
  2. Was the only choice, as Marvasti suggests, to break off contact earlier?

Try to find a student research report submitted in an earlier year. If these are unavailable, select any published account of qualitative research. Re-read it in order to answer the following questions:

  1. In what way(s), if at all, did the author(s) address ethical matters arising in this research?
  2. Were there any unacknowledged ethical issues? If so, how might they have been addressed?
  3. In what way(s), if at all, did the author(s) discuss the contribution of this research for non-academic audiences including the people researched?
  4. What unacknowledged relevance for the wider community might this research have? Explain this (in no more than 200 words) without using any specialist jargon.

In my research on HIV test counselling (Silverman, 1997), despite my offer, no counsellors or clients ever asked for the recorder to be switched off during their interview.

  • Does this mean that my offer to them to switch off was insufficient?
  • In what other ways could I offer them a sound ethical basis to participate in my research?