No thank you, not today": Supporting Ethical and Professional Relationships in Large Qualitative Studies
Based on an ongoing research study of the development of self-regulation in early childhood (BOYER, 2005a, 2005b; BOYER, BLODGETT, & TURK, 2004), this work explores both the ethical and professional considerations of participant sampling in a large qualitative study. The study involved 146 families of preschool children and 15 educators across 7 preschools. Data collection included 30-45 minute audiotaped individual interviews, twenty-eight 90-120 minute audiotaped focus group sessions, and 30 minute videotaped footage of each child's natural play. The challenge of gaining informed consent and ongoing participation within a large study has been considered in the literature (GALL, GALL, & BORG, 2005). In qualitative studies the participants are selected purposefully because they will be particularly informative about the topic (CRESWELL, 2002). This is a challenge for qualitative researchers seeking maximal participation and large sample sizes because volunteer participants "tend to be better educated, higher socioeconomically, more intelligent, more in need of social approval, more sociable, more unconventional, less authoritarian, and less conforming than nonvolunteers" (MCMILLAN, 2004, p.116). This paper provides a response to these sampling challenges and advocates for the building of community relationships based on ethical, interpersonal and professional foundations.
ethics; qualitative research; power; informed consent; vulnerable populations; insider-outsider relationships; self-regulation