Qualitative social research: a risky business when it comes to collecting ‘sensitive’ data
Faculty of Business and Law
School of Management / Centre for Innovative Practice
Qualitative researchers are compelled to use their personal judgements before, during and after interviews, particularly when their interview subjects are drawn from vulnerable groups. This paper discusses the dilemmas qualitative researchers encounter when collecting data that is ethically ‘sensitive’; and situates the discussion in the realm of the Australian Occupational Health & Safety (OH&S) legislative requirement of ‘duty of care’ using the Rapidly Degenerative Neurological Diseases Pilot Program in Western Australia as the case example. The paper is focussed upon the practicalities and ethical concerns of the researchers conducting qualitative data collections. The discussion seeks to provide practical reflections on lessons learned and suggestions for self-care practice for researchers in the field and calls for policies that instruct and protect them.