CIRCA:Savilla Banister's “Ethical Issues and Qualitative Methods in the 21st Century: How Can Digital Technologies Be Embraced In The Research Community?

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Banister, Savilla. “Ethical Issues and Qualitative Methods in the 21st Century: How Can Digital Technologies Be Embraced In The Research Community?” Journal of Ethnographic and Qualitative Research (2007): 1-10.

Savilla discusses the heightened ethical concerns surrounding (qualitative) researchers and scholars, who incorporate digital technology (laptops, audio/visual recording devices, multimedia software etc.) in field work observation, and in the creation and disclosure of research findings via the internet, DVD and CD-ROM distribution, publication in scholarly journals, and presentation at conferences. Savilla posits that ensuring informed consent and “participant voice” is of utmost concern. Though multimedia data enriches qualitative research, any and all collected data must be reviewed and approved by the participant. Researchers’ request forms must be clear and thorough: detailing the use of digital artifacts and its significance; explaining the interpretations and intentions of the researcher; providing the venues privy to the collected information and how long they will have access. These conditions seek to promote dialogue between the researcher and participant, and co-construction of meaning to improve the quality and authenticity of the research project. Lastly, participants must be informed of their right to withdraw at any time during the research process without penalty. A series of brief examples and sample informed consent documents help to contextualize these requirements outlined by the Common Rule and National Institute of health, and policed by Institutional Review Boards (IRB’s) in the United States.
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