Session and Workshop Abstracts

Workshop 2A (W2A) - Abstracts

Ethical considerations of qualitative secondary analysis (Part 1).

This workshop considers ethical concerns when conducting secondary qualitative data analysis and making qualitative data available to others for re-analysis hosted by Helen Foster-Collins.

During Part 1, there will be an interactive presentation talking about - What is secondary analysis? What is it used for? Where might data come from? and What ethical issues relate to conducting secondary analysis of qualitative data?


Hosted by:  Dr Helen Foster-Collins

Keywords: qualitative data, secondary analysis, ethical implications, participant confidentiality, context-dependent data


Abstract: Secondary analysis can be defined as any further analysis of an existing data set ‘which presents interpretations, conclusions or knowledge additional to, or different from, those presented in the first report’ (Hakim, 1982). Secondary analysis can be conducted as a re-examination of one’s own research data, or upon data obtained from various third-party sources, such as sharing of data between collaborative research groups or from data archives. The use of secondary qualitative data has seen increased emphasis in recent years, with increased availability of data through stipulations by funding bodies to share data once research is complete, and active promotion through funding sources targeted at research projects which have secondary analysis as a central feature (e.g. ESRC, 2018). However, the ethical issues faced when re-analysing qualitative data differ to those arising from re-use of quantitative data, and it can helpful for researchers to be aware of these complex issues right from the planning stages.

This workshop considers what ethical concerns we might encounter as researchers, in relation to:

  1. conducting a secondary analysis of qualitative data, and 

  2. making our qualitative data available to others for re-analysis as well as thinking too about the ‘ethical positives’ of secondary analysis in qualitative research.

This two-hour workshop will consist of:

  • a short presentation, outlining some of the dilemmas we may encounter when undertaking secondary analysis or making our data available to others. This will be illustrated with examples from my own PhD research in teacher and medical education.

  • a hands-on workshop where attendees can think about how they would approach such issues, using worked examples.

  • time for questions and open discussion regarding attendees’ current or planned research which utilises secondary data.

Topics addressed will include: the potential advantages and drawbacks of secondary analyses of qualitative data, and ethical issues relating to participant consent, confidentiality and anonymisation, and the context dependent nature of qualitative data.

The aims of this workshop are that attendees will better understand the ethical implications of conducting secondary analysis on qualitative data, to aid them in designing and carrying out secondary analysis in their own research, and for planning to share their data with other researchers.

Hakim, C. (1982). Secondary analysis in social research: A guide to data sources and methods with examples. Allen and Unwin/Unwin Hyman.

ESRC 2021. Secondary Data Analysis Initiative.