From Data Archive to Ethical Labyrinth
Qualitative Research, Vol. 9, No. 3, p. 285, 2009
14 Pages Posted: 18 Sep 2011
Date Written: March 17, 2009
Researchers in the social sciences are increasingly encouraged or obliged to deposit data in digital archives for greater transparency of research or for secondary use by other researchers. However, digital archives raise many ethical challenges at the institutional, disciplinary and personal level, and researchers can find themselves caught between conflicting requirements. This article considers the ethical challenges of qualitative data in particular showing what specific ethical challenges qualitative researchers face. There is generally a lack of policy or guidelines as to how to deal with digital data, or else there are conflicting requirements set by funding and academic institutions and by the law. In the face of this, researchers themselves need to be aware of the ethical and legal dimensions of their data, so that they are in the best position to enter into negotiations concerning whether and how it is archived. The options for archiving are outlined, and an interdisciplinary approach is recommended.
Keywords: archive, data, ethical guidelines, ethical requirements, ethics, qualitative, social science
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