Practical and Ethical Dilemmas in Researching Sensitive Topics with Populations Considered Vulnerable
Conducting research with populations considered vulnerable might be fraught with ethical and practical dilemmas that might place the development of the research at risk. People can be defined as vulnerable when they lack the autonomy to make their own decisions or experience impairing conditions, which might constrain their physical and/or cognitive autonomy. These dilemmas might be even more challenging when the nature of the topic is sensitive (e.g., sacred, stressful, and/or private). There is little information available in the field of social sciences on the ethical and practical dilemmas faced by researchers when researching sensitive topics with populations that are considered vulnerable. This Special Issue intends to build awareness of these challenges and offer guidance for researchers who intend to develop research on sensitive topics with vulnerable populations. We invite contributions, whether theoretical or empirical, that address but are not limited to the following topics: (i) the analysis and conceptualization of sensitive topics and vulnerable populations; (ii) accessing and recruiting vulnerable populations to talk about sensitive topics; (iii) responsibilities and conflicts of developing research on sensitive topics with populations considered vulnerable; (iv) issues of privacy, anonymity, and confidentiality; (v) risks when dealing with vulnerable populations and sensitive topics; (vi) the safety and protection of participants and researchers; and (vii) personal, ethical, and methodological issues, in general.
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