A Meta-dilemma in the Ethics of Qualitative Evaluation

Year: 1993

Author: Snepvangers, Kim

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This paper describes the problems of access in a naturalistic study into evaluative practices in Visual Arts. A naturalistic methodology as outlined by Guba and Lincoln (1981 & 1985) and Rubin (1982) has been chosen as an appropriate method for an investigation of value. This research is grounded by a naturalistic investigation of conflicting evaluative paradigms surrounding art education. The appropriateness of the naturalistic research design for the intended purpose of my study is discussed.

In particular I want to consider the conception and process of research from the perspective of my experience of research in progress. My account of the dilemmas in the beginning phases of my naturalistic study entail issues of funding, bureaucracy, the impact of time, subjectivity and ethics. Overarching ethical considerations also emerge which are common to both myself as researcher and the major gatekeepers and stakeholders involved in the study. The main concerns are for establishing an authentic research design and consideration of the confidentiality of respondents. However, these shared intentions, commitments and concerns do not seem to result in smooth implementation. The exacting conditions required of the researcher in academic practice and the requisite conditions of the various gatekeepers and stakeholders involved in the study expose a meta-dilemma in the ethics of conducting an inquiry when conditions are imposed. I contend that it is all right to say that you intend to conduct a naturalistic study, however, the realities of a commitment to the setting place enormous difficulties on the process of implementation.