Quality & Quantity

, Volume 52, Issue 3, pp 1437–1446 | Cite as

Community based qualitative health research: negotiating ethics in India

  • Avanish Kumar
  • Meerambika Mahapatro


In the last two decades, rise of community-based qualitative health research (CBQHR) has given impetus to deliberations on ethics, primarily on inequality between the researcher and the researched, and the principles of flexible and non-deductive field design adopted in CBQHR. The paper attempts to understand ethics as a process of negotiation at various stages in the field after the Research Ethical Board’s (REB’s) approval. The paper identifies three vulnerable stages of ethical negotiations: consent at commencement stage; data-collection stage (interview, observations, and ethnography); and data analysis at the collation stage in the context of a developing economy. Analysis suggests that REBs need to graduate from a product certification to ethical governance process to address the inherent flexibility and inequality that exists between the researcher and researched in developing countries like India.


Qualitative method Consent Interview Observations Ethnography Ethical governance 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Public Policy and Governance AreaManagement Development InstituteGurgaonIndia
  2. 2.Department of Social SciencesNational Institute of Health and Family WelfareNew DelhiIndia

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