Re-Envisioning Member Checking and Communicating Results as Accountability Practice in Qualitative Research: A South African Community-Based Organization Example


  • Thirusha Naidu University of KwaZulu-Natal
  • Neil Prose Duke University



accountability, autonomy, dissemination, member checking, procedural ethics, returning results, social justice, taking-it-back practice, communicative validation


Ethical considerations in communicating results to participants in community-based qualitative research are scrutinized less than in medical or genetics research. We report on ethical issues considered in planning, preparing and returning of study findings to members of a community-based organization who provide care and support services in their community in rural area in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Using returning results as fulcrum, we explore the ethics of member checking and dissemination of findings. We propose revising these activities through ritual criticism aiming for the re-examination of routine ethics systems for the evaluation and improvement of practice. A case example illustrates how returning results comprise accountability practices through methods that are relevant, accessible, meaningful and useful to study participants. Finally, we consider how the dissemination of results to a wider audience might also be performed as accountability practices with deference to participants. Attention to representing results in forms that resonate with participants' frames of reference is called for. The term accountability practices or taking-it-back practices might describe the acts more authentically than current conventions motivating researchers to review current philosophical, ethical and methodological positions on member checking, returning results and dissemination practices.


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Author Biographies

Thirusha Naidu, University of KwaZulu-Natal

Thirusha NAIDU is a clinical psychologist and researcher in the Department of Behavioural Medicine at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Her research interests include community psychology, health psychology, health worker health and well-being, patient-practitioner communication, narrative research, ethics in qualitative research, poetry in research and reflective practice.

Neil Prose, Duke University

Neil PROSE is a dermatologist and faculty member at Duke University Global Health Humanities Program. His main area of academic interest is provider-patient communication. He is actively involved in developing new models for teaching empathic communication skills to medical students, nurses, midwives, and doctors in low and middle income countries. His work includes developing curricula for medical and midwifery students in South Africa, Ethiopia and southern Chile, and for midwives and health extension workers in Ethiopia.




How to Cite

Naidu, T., & Prose, N. (2018). Re-Envisioning Member Checking and Communicating Results as Accountability Practice in Qualitative Research: A South African Community-Based Organization Example. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 19(3).



Research Ethics in Qualitative Research