A lot of ethical issues surround the aspect between the interviewer and interviewee, as in this case of the well-respected police chief whose intellectual biography is being worked on. For one, there is potentially damaging and unflattering information that has come to light about the chief's private life. As the researcher, in this case, there is an ethical dilemma there comes about, and it needs to be dealt with. It is worth noting that ethics govern our expectations and behavior when carrying out research works. They set out how we are expected to behave and reasons attached to them (Marvasti, 2004). There are broad agreements on some ethical values that people hold such as that stealing is wrong, there are those that seem to be on the grey and are ethically challenging, especially on how they need to be interpreted while in practice. In this case, the whole work is more of research that involves different interviewees and respondents who have to be interviewed for the information about the life of the police chief to be found at depth; various research issues come about as discussed herein.
The arising ethical issue and concern, in this case, involves the various factors that need to be considered for publishing the reports about the life of the police chief. Ethical research is essential as they allow for collaborative work such as fairness and mutual respect. As such, the researchers can be held accountable for their actions. Confidentiality is one ethical issue that sprouts from the scenario. Unflattering information is undoubtedly personal and private (Miller, 2012). There is a need to respect anything about the chief that has been provided in confidence. Also, there is a need to follow guidelines on sensitive information protection.
On the other hand, there is human subjects' protection in which there should be a reduction of the possible harm that can befall the respondent while maximizing the benefits to the people and participants. There is also the ethical issue of openness in which one should always be prepared to share data and results without bias. The data should be shared along with any new tools and issues that have developed. What has developed in the course of getting information about the police chief is potentially damaging. These ethical scenarios present ethical dilemmas that are quite confusing on the next route to take.
The Relationships Between Participants and Researchers
The participants in this research study are family members and colleagues of the police chief. Essential ethical concerns need to be taken into consideration when doing qualitative research. Some of them include informed consent, confidentiality, and anonymity. According to finding by Schwartz and Richards, the term confidentiality conveys various meanings for researchers and health care practitioners. For health care practitioners, confidentiality dictates that no personal information should be revealed except for a given set of circumstances. However, the reason for researchers' confidentiality is less defined and involves a form of outcome elaboration that can result from the study. The researcher needs to endeavor to reduce intrusion possibility into the study participants' autonomy through any means (Hammersley & Traianou, 2012). When there is highly sensitive information involved, the vulnerable individuals and children need to have access to legal representatives who need to be present at the start of the study, and at times, during the sessions data collection. Sometimes the researcher needs to clarify in writing to mention the people who will have access to the data and the eventual use of the data.
Informed consent is identified to be a vital part of research ethics in different fields. The qualitative researchers are supposed to put utmost importance to it as it specifies how data collection will be done and its ultimate use. The principle of informed consent stresses that the researcher's responsibility is to inform the participants about the varied aspects of the data in advance in ways that are comprehensible. Some of the clarifications that should be included are the research's objective, the financing body, and identity of the researcher, the potential role of participants, the nature of the study, and how the research will be used and published.
Naturally, the informed consent needs ongoing negotiations in agreement terms as the study continues. People may consider it vital to research that their society, community, or peers' benefit. As such, qualitative health researchers are supposed to clarify how the research they are carrying out will benefit science and contribute to improving health policy and concerns.
What to Do
After facing this ethical concern, there are a lot of choices that I am left with. The ethical issues in research and production of information to the public support vital moral and social values, including the principle of doing no harm to others, including the police chief. The production of the unflattering report about the chief will, of course, lead to a lot of harm, most of which were unanticipated. That means that I will need to forgo some of the arising issues and concentrate on ensuring that the rights of the interviewees are protected. At the same time, the subject who is the police chief needs to get his rights where his information needs to be kept under the rags so there can be little harm directed to him.
According to Belmont's report on the protection of the client's data, there needs to be consent from the interviewee before their data is used or published. It especially applies to research studies and clinical trials. The report explains all the unifying principles that are fundamental to the National Commission's topic-specific reports. It also includes the regulations that incorporate various recommendations within it.
The statement of the Belmont Report contains the guidelines and principles that are meant to assist in resolving some of the ethical issues and problems that surround the conduct of research with human subjects. In this case, it will be a substantial ethical breach to produce the private life issues of the police chief without getting some form of consent. Alternatively, there ought to be some clause in the informed consent that gives the go-ahead to use any information found in the case. The consent form must be adequately read and signed by the chief to allow for the use of all the information found during the publication of the well-respected chief intellectual biography. Furthermore, the critical and potentially damaging information is about his private life. As such, there is a need to protect the respondent's privacy at all costs (Belmont Report, 1978). A range of ethical concerns is raised on the relationships that sprout between participants and researchers in qualitative studies. The qualitative researchers face dilemmas such as avoiding misrepresentations, establishing open and honest interactions, and respecting privacy. Different ethically challenging ma come up if the researcher is forced to deal with issues that are contradicting and choosing between various methodological strategies when conflicts arise. Such scenarios lead to disagreement in various research components such as the society, the funding body, researcher's discipline, researchers, and participants.
Belmont Report dictates that there is a need for respect for persons. Also, it is common sense that revealing the cold and unflattering issues about the life of the police chief will be disrespectful regarding the ethical concerns that are at hand (Belmont Report, 1978). Most instances provide that the interviewer should also be limited to the amount and type of information that he can get regarding a given subject. As such, many factors need to be considered before going ahead to produce the final information from such a document.
Data Gathering and Data Analysis
Data in qualitative research are collected with a focus on multifaceted narratives and interviews to produce experiences description. Therefore, my role as the researchers is to mediate between various parties where, in this case, it is the community of the people who are concerned and the respondents' experience. The comment sheet given after the interviews or after the research has been carried out is meant to allow the respondents to give their feedback regarding the interview and give their comments and interpretations on what transpired during the study. This aspect will enable them to give their sentiments, which can also help the research team improve or amend some issues that do not go well with the participants (National Research Council, 2005). In most of these cases, a lot of the flaws and ethical issues can be found. It also helps the funding body know whether the research protocol is being followed to the latter.
The collection of data requires various aspects to be as overt as it possibly can. Also, there is a need to record the findings. As much as this cannot completely guarantee confidentiality, the recording helps the participants decide whether or not they wish to be recorded during the interviews or research sessions.
The qualitative method is used in utilizing for elaboration, clarification, and explanation of the different meanings of human life experiences. As such, the researcher is supposed to interpret the experiences that people harbor as they take part in human experiences and activities. There is a need for considering the principle of no harm by the researchers (Ritter, 2013). They should know of the potential harms that can be brought about or might arise during the research work. However, there are times when the right to privacy and the right to know may occur.
For ethical considerations, many viable strategies can be employed for the protection of personal data or information. It includes secure storage of data, pseudonyms, biographical details amendments, removal of identifier components, and secure data storage methods. The researchers are responsible for participants' protection during the study, especially on aspects that might affect them during the ongoing process of the study (Shamoo & Resnik, 2015). It is a common thing to find nowadays that the research ethics committee can seem documented proof of consent in signed written, and ideally witnessed form. Therefore, the researchers need to do their best to ensure that the identity of the respondents is undoubtedly protected and that the information that they hold are confidential and cannot leak or be found in places where they should not.
Minimizing Ethical Issues
Since there are many ethical concerns and issues around the matter, there is a need for that interviewer as some questions. These include having to know some of the impacts that the decision that will be made in that scenario will affect the parties involved, such as the interviewers, the police chief, and the public of the issue is reported in the new or in any form of public forum. Also, there is a need to know if the decision perceived will be deemed unethical and if there are policies, rules, or regulations that can restrict the actions and choices. Lastly, there is a need to know if uncovering the disturbing information can lead to legal actions. Many cases are better left the way they are because producing them to the public will lead to more harm than good.
Thus, research ethics dictate a need to protect the respondent's or interviewee's privacy (Steininger et al., 1984). When the decision to produce the information is arrived at, it will be unethical as the information that is not pleasing at all is actually about the private life of the police chief.
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