Critical Thinking Essay on Ethical Issues in Qualitative Research

Published: 2021-07-22 08:28:34
816 words
3 pages
7 min to read
Wesleyan University
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Critical thinking
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Researchers have a role of ensuring that their respondents are protected and their privacy maintained (Miller et al., 2012). Also, researchers have a role in ensuring that professional rapport and avoid deception are established as well as maintained. These principles are very sensitive in the field of leadership studies. This paper will delve into ethical issues related to conducting qualitative research, especially in the leadership studies.

The study conducted by Fletcher and Arnold (2011), it is evident that the researcher adopted the inductive reasoning approach. The inductive reasoning was adopted due to the inability of a qualitative approach to precise results to respond to the research question. This makes it impossible to establish whether the interpretation provided by the researcher is a reflection of the intended information by the responded. Another study by Barkhordari-Sharifabad et al., (2017) also adopted a qualitative approach to study obstacles and problems to ethical leadership. One ethical concern that arose was invasion of the respondent's privacy by the interviewer. Some questions such as asking the respondent to provide personal examples can be disrespectful to some people. Such questions seem to invade the privacy of the respondents. It is also evident that both Fletcher and Arnold (2011) and Barkhordari-Sharifabad et al., (2017) recorded conversations. While privacy and confidentiality remain an important consideration, such recording may jeopardize this principle.

One of the most important ethical issue in qualitative research is privacy and anonymity CITATION Anu06 \l 1033 (Halai, 2006). According to Scales (2012), some circumstances make it hard to assure 100% anonymity. The same case applies to the two studies provided as an example in this case. Since the only data to be collected involves verball response from the respondent, the audio recording was necessary. It has not been established whether the consent note included information pertaining the need to record the interview. If not, then this can further be considered as deception, which is also a critical ethical concern. Regardless of the consent details, recording of a conversation can amount to an intentional breach of confidentiality (Wiles et al., 2006). In extremely sensitive studies, especially those touching on sensitive political leadership topics, this approach may not be recommended.

From the identified ethical issues related to the collection of data and reporting, it is important to adopt specific measures. One, the deductive approach should not include wrong interpretation of data since the researcher is only obliged to account for the respondents opinion. In the two studies provided both Fletcher and Arnold (2011) and Barkhordari-Sharifabad et al. (2017) needed to record the response from respondents. However, there is need to ensure that the recordings are secured and delinked from source CITATION Gra08 \l 1033 (Crow & Wiles, 2008). Voice conversion is one process of enhancing anonymity of participants. In case, the voice has not been changed; a researcher needs to ensure that such content is protected from unauthorized access CITATION Don15 \l 1033 (Dongre & Sankaran, 2015). According to Dongre and Sankaran (2015), sensitive procedures of data collection like audio and video recording require the researcher seeks approval of the same from the tageted respondent. A researcher sould not breach this ethical principle by secretly recording an interview.

This paper focused on the studies conducted by Fletcher and Arnold (2011) and Barkhordari-Sharifabad et al. (2017). Ethical issues were identified in the processes of data collection and representation. It has been established that most researchers focusing on human subjects such as leadership requires ethical issues such as anonymity and confidentiality to be upheld.


BIBLIOGRAPHY Barkhordari-Sharifabad, M., Ashktorab, T., & Atashzadeh-Shoorideh, F. (2017). Obstacles and problems of ethical leadership from the perspective of nursing leaders: a qualitative content analysis. Journal of Medical Ethics and History of Medicine, 10(1) , Retrieved from

Crow, G., & Wiles, R. (2008). Managing anonymity and confidentiality in social research: the case of visual data in Community research. ESRC National Centre for Research Methods NCRM Working Paper Series 8/08. Retrieved from

Dongre, A. R., & Sankaran, R. (2015). Ethical issues in qualitative research: challenges and options. International Journal of Medical Science and Public Health, 5(6) , 1187-1194. Retrieved from

Fletcher, D., & Arnold, R. (2011). A qualitatiive study of performance leadership and management in elite sport. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 23(2) , 223-242. Retrieved from

Halai, A. (2006). Ethics in qualitative research: Issues and challenges. EdQual Working Paper No.4 , Retrieved from

Miller, T., Mauthner, M., Birch, M., & Jessop, J. (2012). Ethics in Qualitative Research. London: SAGE.

Scales, K. (2012). Ethics in practice: Considering ongoing ethical issues in qualitative research. Retrieved from

Wiles, R., Crow, G., Heath, S., & Charles, V. (2006). Anonymity and Confidentiality. ESRC National Centre for Research Methods NRCM Working Paper Series2/06. Retrieved from

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