An ethics of analysis and writing

An interesting blog post for all those currently analysing interviews, e.g. for their final year thesis project:

An ethics of analysis and writing by Pat Thomson

It seems worth thinking about: ‘the ways in which we ‘make people’ in our writing’.

As Thomson asks:

  • How can you best make the reader interested in the participant and see the value and logic of their responses? The decision goes to the question of doing no harm.
  • How do you cut through all of the verbiage to distil the essence of an interview so that it rings true to the event – and so it is ‘fair’ to the interviewee?
  • How much can you cut, splice and juggle the words of participants without actually veering into ‘making it up’?
  • What safeguards do you put in place to avoid cherry-picking particular words that conveniently fit a pattern?
  • How do you deal with accents? What are the ethical pluses and minuses of converting people’s words into standard English? (See John Field’s helpful post on this.)
  • How do you deal with disorderly thoughts, broken arguments, half-finished sentences? What is the potential for harm in the choice that you make about cleaning up/not cleaning up?
  • Are there ethical pitfalls in trying to stick too closely to a participant’s words?
  • How do you actually craft paragraphs and sentences so that the rhythm and meaning-making of the participant is best communicated?
  • Where is the ‘researcher you’ in the writing – hiding behind a carefully selected long slab of writing that masquerades as ‘authentic voice’?
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