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Negotiating Tensions between Methodology and Procedural Ethics

James Rupert Fletcher
Journal of Gerontological Social Work 2019 January 6, : 1-8
In this commentary, I consider what can go wrong in research when tensions arise between methodology and procedural ethics. I recount difficulties negotiating and implementing a participant recruitment strategy during my doctoral research project, which aimed to explore the experiences of people affected by dementia in the United Kingdom who were disengaged from services. To access this hard-to-reach population, I intended to adopt an informal recruitment strategy, snowball sampling from personal contacts and striking up conversations in public places. The procedural ethics committee were unhappy with this approach, deeming it potentially coercive. They suggested a more formal recruitment strategy enacted via emailing community organisations and churches. This approach entailed practical consequences that ultimately weakened the study sample, data and findings. This case raises questions about the negotiation of tensions between methodology and procedural ethics in gerontological research.


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