Last autumn, I had the pleasure of doing fieldwork among lawyers in Montreal during my 3.5 months-long research visit at Teluq/University of Quebec. I went there as a postdoctoral researcher working on a grant so I used my own equipment (i.e. computer, mobile phone, recorder). While this research visit was a wonderful experience both professionally and personally, it was then when I fully realized how much responsibility in terms of the security of the research data and equipment I carry when working abroad and particularly when doing a fieldwork in a foreign country. This involves for example file encryption, protection of data connections, administration of access rights, processing and handling of confidential information as well as archiving and destroying of documents. I was encouraged by my colleagues to share some of my experiences as the issue might be relevant for other researchers who are planning a mobility period.
Research ethics during fieldwork
In my own fieldwork, the issue of handling of confidential information and research data, file encryption and protection of data connections became particularly relevant. Firstly, the fieldwork involved interviewing some people who knew each other and who sometimes recommended each other to me for an interview (i.e. snowball sampling). While the interviewees can contact each other to discuss the interview, I had to be particularly careful not to confirm or deny the interviewees’ inquiries whether I have met their colleagues. Otherwise, I would violate the issue of confidentiality. Continue reading “Research ethics in practice during fieldwork and in research collaboration”