The Death of a Participant: Moral Obligation, Consent and Care in Qualitative Longitudinal Research
Edwards R., Weller S.
In this chapter, we draw on a qualitative longitudinal study that tracks the lives of over 50 young people, to explore the ethical dilemmas arising from the death of one of our participants, killed in a traffic accident. These dilemmas were amplified by the long-term nature of the study, where we experienced a growing sense of interest in, responsibility towards and emotional connection with our project participants and their families (Weller 2012a). The relational aspects and commitments of research become dominant in qualitative longitudinal research, where researchers meet participants, hear about, follow and analyse their lives, over the years (see also Chapter 12 by Wood and Kidman in this book). This sustained research connection shapes not only the reflexive ethics of day-to-day research practice (Warin 2010), but also responses to unexpected research incidents.