Considering Research Ethics

My research is based in a public setting (public library) and will focus on participants who identify with the LGBTQ community. I’d classify my research risk as low-medium because many research participants involved are part of a social group that historically has encountered marginalization and stigmatization and therefore some participants can potentially be sensitive about sharing some experiences. Therefore, I will have to think rigorously about how I will clearly communicate to participants that they will not be judged for opinions, comments and concerns they share as well as ensuring data sensitivity. Again, I would also communicate to participants that if at any point they feel uncomfortable and prefer to withdraw their participation — they can do so without any negative consequences. Research participants should be comfortable with their identity (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered, Queer/Questioning). I must also be aware to respect and follow the privacy policy of the public library.

My research methodology will be in the form of mixed methods approach as consenting participants will be asked to complete a survey and/or participate in a semi-structured interview.   Dr. Dean Sharpe’s point about research participants doing us a favor as their contributions are on a voluntary basis reminds me how important it is for researchers to be very conscientious about communicating (more than once) to participants that if at any point they feel uncomfortable — they have the right to withdraw from the study. I would have to clear my methodology with both the University and the selected public library.

It’s important for the researcher to also communicate with participants that results of the study/research project can be made available to them if they are interested.  After the interview I would also spend some time to debrief with my research participants so that they have a better understanding how this research project will contribute to a call to action to create and maintain a partnership with the LGBTQ community and public libraries so that libraries can continue to improve services.

Sharpe, D.  (2013, October). Research ethics in the social sciences and humanities. INF 1240 Research Methods. Lecture conducted from University of Toronto, Toronto, ON.


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One response to “Considering Research Ethics

  1. Hi there,

    You stated that research participants are voluntarily doing the researcher a favour, which makes it important to communicate the right to withdraw from a study at any given moment. I can’t remember if I head this in this course, or another course within my undergraduate degree, but I know several researchers offer benefits to their human subjects, in the form of monetary reward, psychological reward, etc. I only say this because in your research study the issue of actually getting people to consent to become one of your human subjects may be difficult, therefore, an incentive could possibly be devised? Don’t hold me to this though because I’m not 100% sure!!

    Victoria Grant

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