Conducting a qualitative research is not an easy task. Aside from considerations regarding gathering data, looking up literature and other sources related to the study, and such, researchers engaged in qualitative studies should also consider ethical issues in order to provide results that are not only reliable and valid but also acceptable in terms of morality and standard principles. For qualitative researches to exhibit the qualities of ethically accepted studies, they should comply with certain principles and guidelines.
These principles and guidelines include simple yet socially acceptable rules such as respecting the rights and human dignity of other people, providing research results that are highly beneficial and contributive, adhering to fairness and equality, and presenting the truth and nothing but the truth. (Gonzales-Perez, 2007) One specific ethical issue in qualitative research is exploitation. This is a highly significant matter because it is related to the researcher’s relationship to the participants. Researchers should always respect participants avoiding exploitation, such that researchers do not impose power over them.
(Gonzales-Perez, 2007) For instance, a researcher takes advantage of the vulnerability of child or female participants by imposing power and authority and drawing from them personal and sensitive information that violates the privacy of human beings. (Gonzales-Perez, 2007) Exploitation does not meet the responsibility of researchers over the security and welfare of the participants. Personal and sensitive information that will be presented in the research obtained from exploitation will not make the research study ethically or morally acceptable, annulling its reliability and validity as a research case.
(Ethical Issues in Qualitative Research, 2008) Another ethical issue is the researcher’s responsibility to inform participants of the true nature of the research. This is based on the founding principles of qualitative research which states that the researcher should always protect participants from harm. Researchers should be able to inform participants of events that will follow the research process, such as the processes, operations, requirements, and such, in order for both the participants and the researcher to become aware of possible risks or threats.
Considering the health of a participant is one possible consideration. For instance, the research study focuses on the effect of food to mood or emotions. The participant should be informed of the process, as a standard operating procedure, in order to determine problems, such as food allergies, and such. In addition, researchers should also obtain consent from participants before continuing the operation of the research process. This is one of the major responsibilities of the researcher as an advocate for human rights and dignity in terms of personal safety and wellbeing.
In doing so, harm and catastrophes will be avoided. (Gonzales-Perez, 2007) The third ethical issue concerning qualitative research is misrepresentations of information covered by the research study. Opportunities for misrepresentations will not make the research study valid and reliable, simply because its content is open to many interpretations and points of view. The purpose of the research process is to provide information that is clear and direct, stating facts that represent the preciseness of data. Misrepresentation defeats this purpose.
This violates ethical standards and guidelines because misrepresentations hold risks and threats, especially if data or information is interpreted in the wrong way. (Gonzales-Perez, 2007) Imagine a research study focusing on health practices that will protect the safety and wellbeing of the patients. Suppose the research study concludes with suggestions that will assist health care professionals in caring for their patients. If the information is interpreted wrongly, health care professionals might commit mistakes that will endanger the lives of their patients.
Abiding by ethical issues and considerations, when conducting qualitative research, is highly important. Following ethics in qualitative research determines the nature and quality of the results and the research itself – whether it is acceptable, conducted in good faith, and is beneficial to the public. Researcher should always keep in mind that they are highly responsible for the results, whether desirable or undesirable, that might arise from the research study.
Therefore, following ethical standards and guidelines is a must in order to go about the research process in a correct, accurate, and appropriate way.
Ethical Issues in Qualitative Research. (2008). Retrieved October 18, 2008, from SA Health Info. Website: http://www. sahealthinfo. org/ethics/ethicsqualitative. htm Gonzales-Perez, M. A. (2007). Ethical Issues in Qualitative Research. Retrieved October 18, 2008, from The Community Knowledge Initiative. Website: http://www. nuigalwaycki. ie/admin/documents/Ethical_Issues. pdf
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