Understanding the unique ethical challenges of data collection faced by social scientists
From the perspective of social scientists, “data” often exists as the words of the people with whom we interact. As a result, social scientists are frequently challenged with not only collecting data to inform their studies, but necessarily tasked with doing so under less than ideal social, political, and/or economic conditions. This talk will detail the experiences and perspectives of a mixed-methods social scientist who has collected data under such conditions. Specifically, the challenges faced when gathering rich, qualitative data from coal-dependent communities in eastern Kentucky and southern West Virginia about a divisive form of coal extraction known as mountaintop removal. In addition to presenting the ethical dilemmas encountered in such studies, this talk will also engage topics such as consent, privacy, and researcher/subject power dynamics.