I’m Okay, You’re Okay?: Reflections on the Well-Being and Ethical Requirements of Researchers and Research Participants in Conducting Qualitative Fieldwork Interviews

Wendy Mitchell, Annie Irvine

Abstract


In this paper the authors present their reflections on a U.K. government–funded study exploring mental health and employment. Conducting research on a sensitive theme with a potentially vulnerable group gave renewed focus to some social research issues, including consent and control, rapport building, managing and responding to emotion, and offering appropriate longer term support. The researchers discuss their personal approaches and experiences (practical, methodological, ethical) during and after the fieldwork process. In the paper the authors highlight some of the challenges they faced and discuss how these were addressed and managed, sometimes differently, and not always resolved. They demonstrate the need for researchers to be aware of their “research footprint,” in particular the need to be reflexive and responsive to participants’ emotional well-being, and for funders and employers to also be sensitive to and mindful of the demands of social research, including impacts on researchers’ well-being.

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