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Pickles, J. (2017). Contamination of overt data with covert data. Research Ethics, 14(4), 1–3. https://doi.org/10.1177/1747016117721281


A research project was conducted which explored LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) hate crime. Participants were invited to share their narratives and personal experiences of hate crime, discrimination and violence through semi-structured interviews. The study helped us understand how people who experience ‘hate’ responded to, managed and reconciled the identities for which they were victimized. This case study focuses on a situation where a research participant requested a copy of an interview they gave for the hate crime project. The interview copy was to be used for the participant’s own personal purposes. The participant’s request potentially risked the contamination of ethical (overt) data collection, with their own covert data gathering. The ethical implications of this scenario raise many questions for ethicists and researchers to discuss.