Confidentiality in Qualitative Research Involving Vulnerable Participants: Researchers' Perspectives


  • Adrianna Danuta Surmiak Uniwersity of Warsaw



confidentiality, anonymization, vulnerable research participants, ethics, qualitative research, Poland


In this article, I analyze the ways researchers manage the issue of confidentiality in studies with vulnerable research participants in the Polish context, which is characterized by a relatively low degree of ethics and data protection legislation in the social sciences. I am primarily interested in what approach researchers take on confidentiality and how this informs their research practice. I also consider how they attempt to protect confidentiality in their research. The analysis is based on in-depth interviews and e-mail correspondence with 42 Polish qualitative researchers who deal with vulnerable groups and individuals. In addition, I discuss what my interviewees themselves consider to be confidential in the context of my research with them.


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Author Biography

Adrianna Danuta Surmiak, Uniwersity of Warsaw

Adrianna SURMIAK is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Sociology of Morality and General Axiology at the University of Warsaw in Poland. She holds an MA in sociology and a PhD in cultural anthropology. Her main research interests include qualitative research ethics, lying, and sex work.




How to Cite

Surmiak, A. D. (2018). Confidentiality in Qualitative Research Involving Vulnerable Participants: Researchers’ Perspectives. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 19(3).



Research Ethics in Qualitative Research