Ethical considerations associated with Qualitative Research methods

25 May 2022
Last updated:
21 October 2022


This high-level guidance has been developed by the UK Statistics Authority’s Centre for Applied Data Ethics (CADE), and the UK Government Data Quality Hub (DQHub), based at the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The guidance can be used as a practical resource to help researchers identify different ethical issues when conducting qualitative research. 

This guidance is not exhaustive but aims to support researchers navigating the ethical issues surrounding qualitative research projects (particularly in relation to primary data collection). It brings together existing literature on qualitative research methods and their ethical concerns. Links to further resources are provided if you would like to read about aspects in more detail. 


The guidance has been created for researchers using qualitative methods within the ONS. However, the ethical considerations discussed, and the mitigations for these, can be more widely applied to all types of qualitative research.  

The guidance is divided into several parts.   

  • An introduction to qualitative research and why ethics matters in this space.  
  • An overview of some of the ethical considerations associated with qualitative research methods, and some potential mitigations for these issues. This includes an overview of some of the qualitative methods used within the ONS. 
  • An ethics checklist which summarises the main points covered in this guidance.   
  • A list of helpful links to further resources.  
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