Ethical dilemmas and reflexivity in qualitative research

Reid, A.-M., Brown, J. M., Smith, J. M., Cope, A. C. and Jamieson, S. (2018) Ethical dilemmas and reflexivity in qualitative research. Perspectives on Medical Education, 7(2), pp. 69-75. (doi: 10.1007/s40037-018-0412-2) (PMID:29536374) (PMCID:PMC5889383)

159435.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.



Context: For medical education researchers, a key concern may be the practicalities of gaining ethical approval where this is a national or local requirement. However, in qualitative studies, where the dynamics of human interaction pervade, ethical considerations are an ongoing process which continues long after approval has been granted. Responding to ethical dilemmas arising ‘in the moment’ requires a reflexive approach whereby the researcher questions his/her own motivations, assumptions and interests. Drawing on empirical studies and their experiences in academic and clinical research practice, the authors share their reflections on adhering to ethical principles throughout the research process to illustrate the complexities and nuances involved. Objectives and findings: These reflections offer critical insights into dilemmas arising in view of the ethical principles driving good conduct, and through domains which distinguish between procedural ethics, situational ethics, ethical relationships and ethical issues in exiting the study. The accounts consider integrity and altruism in research, gatekeeping and negotiating access, consent and confidentiality, power dynamics and role conflict, and challenges in dissemination of findings. The experiences are based on a range of examples of research in a UK context from managing difficult conversations in the classroom to video-ethnography in the operating theatre. Discussion and conclusions: These critical reflections make visible the challenges encountered and decisions that must be taken in the moment and on reflection after the event. Through sharing our experiences and debating the decisions we made, we offer insights into reflexivity in qualitative research which will be of value to others.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Jamieson, Professor Susan
Authors: Reid, A.-M., Brown, J. M., Smith, J. M., Cope, A. C., and Jamieson, S.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Medicine, Dentistry & Nursing
Journal Name:Perspectives on Medical Education
ISSN (Online):2212-277X
Published Online:13 March 2018
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2018 The Authors
First Published:First published in Perspectives on Medical Education 7(2): 69-75
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

University Staff: Request a correction | Enlighten Editors: Update this record