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Ethics in Qualitative Research

Ethics in Qualitative Research
Controversies and Contexts

May 2012 | 184 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
All social researchers need to think about ethical issues. Their salience has recently been increased by the pressures of ethical regulation, particularly in the case of qualitative research. But what are ethical issues? And how should they be approached? These are not matters about which there is agreement. Ethics in Qualitative Research explores conflicting philosophical assumptions, the diverse social contexts in which ethical problems arise, and the complexities of handling them in practice.

The authors argue that the starting point for any discussion of research ethics must be the values intrinsic to research, above all the commitment to knowledge-production. However, the pursuit of inquiry is rightly constrained by external values, and the book focuses on three of these: minimising harm, respecting autonomy, and protecting privacy. These external values are shown to be far from unequivocal in character, often in conflict with one another (or with the commitments of research), and always subject to situational interpretation and practical judgment. Nevertheless, it is contended that in the present challenging times it is essential that qualitative researchers uphold research values.

Martyn Hammersley is Professor of Educational and Social Research at The Open University.

Anna Traianou is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Educational Studies, Goldsmiths, University of London.

What Is Ethics?
The Research Ethos
The Risk of Harm
Autonomy and Informed Consent
Privacy, Confidentiality and Anonymity
Conclusion: Challenging Moralism

As a former Masters student and novice qualitative researcher, had I had more insight into the complexities around ethics detailed in this book before entering the field I may well have been better equipped to deal with some of the more problematic issues I encountered.
Chloe Roberts
Action Learning: Research & Practice

What is ethical acting in qualitative research, what want to say it when you act ethical or unethical, and just imagine that how solid are questions at the heart of this book. The introduction is also immediately announced that answering these questions is not easy and that the answers given by the authors are controversial. Such a statement makes me curious and will read something very new in the hope you go with the book to get started. (Translation).

Lammert Gosse Jansma

Very useful on the ethics course to encourage critique and reflection on ethical issues in qualitative research and to support the students in developing ethical awareness

Dr Amanda Bingley
Division of Health Research , Lancaster University
March 3, 2016

Martyn Hammersley and Anna Traianou have set out to examine some important underlying assumptions and concepts in ethics in qualitative research. Starting with a historical context for the ever increasing ethical requirements in research since the mid 20thC, the authors then set the tone and tenor of the discussion by raising the debate around the perceived purpose of research ethics. They invoke the moral dimension of research aims and outcomes, differentiating between the ethical requirements of research within an institutional context together with the morality of differing research design in various populations and from a range of perspectives. This is an informative and thought-provoking text that will appeal to postgraduate students keen to use qualitative methods as well as experienced researchers, wanting to revisit and re-examine some important ethical debates.

Dr Amanda Bingley
Division of Health Research , Lancaster University
September 17, 2015

Excellent and thought provoking text which challenges mainstream beliefs around ethics in qualitative research. Would cause you to challenge your core understanding on principles associated with certain aspects relating to qualitative research. Particularly liked the synopsis of chapters in the summary section too. Useful if you are re-visiting the text after a break away.

Ms Therese Leufer
School of Nursing, Dublin City University (DCU)
May 27, 2013

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Sample Materials & Chapters


Sociology of the Sacred - Ch.1 : Introduction

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