No thank you, not today": Supporting Ethical and Professional Relationships in Large Qualitative Studies

  • Lisa J. Blodgett University of Victoria
  • Wanda Boyer University of Victoria
  • Emily Turk University of Victoria
Keywords: ethics, qualitative research, power, informed consent, vulnerable populations, insider-outsider relationships, self-regulation


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. URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0503353


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Author Biographies

Lisa J. Blodgett, University of Victoria
Lisa BLODGETT is currently completing a Masters' Degree in Educational Psychology at the University of Victoria. As a school teacher and counselor, her research interests focus on children's social and emotional development. She is currently examining young children's behavioral self-regulation, with a specific focus on preschool aged boys' regulatory responses.
Wanda Boyer, University of Victoria
Wanda BOYER is an associate professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Victoria. Her research interests are in the study of self-regulation, in general, with special emphasis on ecological support for self-regulation in preschool and elementary aged children. In addition to studies of pre-service teacher empathy and optimism, her current research examines the acquisition of self-regulatory skills in children ages 3-5.
Emily Turk, University of Victoria
Emily TURK is currently completing a Masters' Degree in Educational Psychology at the University of Victoria. Having five years of previous experience as a preschool educator, she is currently researching parental perceptions of their role in supporting self-regulation with children having difficulty following social rules.
FQS Debate: Qualitative Research and Ethics