What Qualitative Researchers Must Do When Ethical Assurances Disintegrate? Recognise Internal Confidentiality, Establish Process Consent, Reference Groups, Referrals for Participants and a Safety Plan

Conference paper
Part of the Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing book series (AISC, volume 1068)


Informed consent and confidentiality are the two mainstays of qualitative research ethics, yet they have a propensity to disintegrate in an emergent, iterative research design. This chapter examines how to approach this uncharted territory by having researchers take full responsibility for ethical considerations by using more robust forms of consent like process consent; recognising the dual faces of confidentiality, distinguishing external confidentiality from internal confidentiality. Other responsibilities in post ethics review environment include recognising and addressing big ethical moments. At times, participants and researchers ethical protections disintegrate too. When participants are at risk, furnish referrals (i.e. suicide watch phone numbers). When researchers are at risk work off a safety plan. Additionally, given this unpredictability, researchers should create a standing reference group to assist answering the fourth question above: what to do when the project raises ethical questions not foreseen in formal ethics review or by the researcher.


Internal confidentiality Process consent Anonymity Reference groups 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand

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