Practical and Ethical Challenges of Qualitative Research
Organizacijska jedinica
Odsjek za sociologiju
Metodičke vježbe

The goal of this course is to provide students with knowledge and skills that will enable them to become confident and competent practitioners of qualitative methods of social research. The course will focus on qualitative methods that collect data from interactions with the research participants, both in physical and virtual environments: interviews, focus groups and ethnographies.

The course is intended for students with basic knowledge of qualitative methods who will expand this knowledge with reflections and practical exercises on advanced issues that they are likely to be encounter at different levels of preparing and conducting qualitative studies: from proposing the study for approval, funding and ethics evaluation to the qualitative fieldwork and the evaluation of the qualitative study's outcomes.The course will put the greatest emphasis on the practical elements in the process of preparing a feasible and a reflexive qualitative research proposal that can withstand external evaluation both in terms of methodology and ethical considerations.

To this purpose, the students will prepare mock funding and ethics' applications that will familiarize them with the type of research proposals they might encounter in their future careers. In the course of preparing these applications, the students will be asked for an in-depth considerations of the practical and ethical challenges they might plausibly encounter in their own fieldwork, and they will need to propose feasible solutions and contingency plans for their proposed qualitative fieldwork, as the latter frequently involves a high degree of uncertainty and demands the skills of adaptation.

In light of practical focus of the course, it will be of greatest use to students who already have a research project they wish to develop further. Nevertheless, even the students who currently only have a research idea will be able to apply the skills obtained in the course to turn their research idea into a high-quality qualitative research proposal. Ultimately, the knowledge and skills obtained in the course are intended to equip the students to competently and independently deal with practical issues of conducting qualitative research with human participants, and to be able to confidently present and defend their research decision-making process when faced with an external consideration and evaluation.
  1. Challenges of qualitative research with human participants: An introduction
  2. What and why of qualitative research: Thinking through a research project (with focus on linking theoretical perspectives, methodology and methods)
  3. How to approach an emergent research design
  4. Transparency and research rigour in qualitative research with human participants
  5. What's wrong with saturation and other qualitative dilemmas
  6. Ethical dilemmas from the field I (interviews, focus groups)
  7. Ethical dilemmas from the field II (ethnography, online qualitative data collection with human participants)
  8. Ethics-as-procedure vs. ethics-as-process (with focus on tensions in ethical approval process)
  9. Open science and qualitative data with human participants
  10. Use of qualitative analysis software: Advantages and pitfalls
  11. How to propose qualitative research with human participants (with focus on funding applications)
  12. How to evaluate qualitative research with human participants (a reviewer perspective)
  13. Challenges in proposing and evaluating qualitative research (with focus on tensions between specificities of emergent design and funding/ethical requirements)
  14. How to present qualitative research findings
  15. Lessons learned and remaining challenges

Ishodi učenja
  1. Advanced competence in qualitative methods of social research.
  2. Competence in proposing qualitative studies with human participants, with focus on funding and ethics applications
  3. Competence in preparing and evaluating qualitative research projects with human participants.
  4. Apply and problematize the main concepts of qualitative research methodology.
  5. Learn strategies of rigorous qualitative research in circumstances of uncertainty and changing conditions.
  6. Recognize and identify appropriate strategies for specific ethical issues in various types of qualitative research with human participants.
  7. Identify and respond appropriately to assumptions in formal ethics evaluations.
  8. Identify and respond appropriately to assumptions in external evaluations of qualitative research proposals.
  9. Evaluate qualitative research within its own epistemological framework
  10. Design and defend qualitative research within its own epistemological framework.
Metode podučavanja
Lectures + seminars + methodology exercises involving continuos independent tasks throughout the course
Metode ocjenjivanja
Lectures.- Doing the assigned readings in preparation for the lecture. Attending and actively participating in the lectures.
Seminars. – Presentations and discussions of the assigned material.
Methodology exercises. – Regularly delivering independent tasks that will be discussed during the methodology exercises.
Final written project – Full research proposal with ethics application included.
Final reflexive essay.

Obavezna literatura
  1. Rubin, A.T. (2021): Rocking Qualitative Social Science: An Irreverent Guide to Rigorous Research. Standford University Press.
  2. Tolich, M. & Tumilty, E. (2021): Finding your Ethical Research Self: A Guidebook for Novice Qualitative Researchers. Routledge
  3. Braun, V. & Clarke, V. (2013): Successful Qualitative Research: A Practical Guide for Beginners. Sage
  4. Tolich, M. (2016): Qualitative Ethics in Practice. Routledge.
  5. Course reader (selected articles and chapters)
Dopunska literatura
  1. Resources at Thread - The Research Ethics Application Database (
  2. Resources at QDR – Qualitative Data Repository (
  3. Resources for The Five-Level QDA Method by Woolf N.H. & Silver, C. (Atlas.ti, MAXQDA, NVivo:
  4. Ethics resources from the Association of Internet Researchers (

Izborni predmet na studijima
  1. Sociologija, sveučilišni diplomski jednopredmetni studij
  2. Sociologija, sveučilišni diplomski dvopredmetni studij
Fakultetska ponuda
  • Diplomski studij: Zimski semestar