This article examines the developments that have motivated this special issue on Qualitative Research Ethics in the Big Data Era. The article offers a broad overview of many pressing challenges and opportunities that the Big Data era raises particularly for qualitative research. Big Data has introduced to the social sciences new data sources, new research methods, new researchers, and new forms of data storage that have immediate and potential effects on the ethics and practice of qualitative research. Drawing from a literature review and insights gathered at a National Science Foundation-funded workshop in 2016, we present five principles for qualitative researchers and their institutions to consider in navigating these emerging research landscapes. These principles include (a) valuing methodological diversity; (b) encouraging research that accounts for and retains context, specificity, and marginalized and overlooked populations; (c) pushing beyond legal concerns to address often messy ethical dilemmas; (d) attending to regional and disciplinary differences; and (e) considering the entire lifecycle of research, including the data afterlife in archives or in open-data facilities.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Social Psychology
- Cultural Studies
- Sociology and Political Science
- General Social Sciences