In light of everything we’ve read, I feel like there are quite a few issues that could arise when studying social phenomena. One pertinent issue is confidentiality vs. anonymity. For example, a researcher focusing upon the sociology of higher education may want to interview freshman students against transfer students to better understand how they feel about their cost of attendance and their sunk cost into their experience within the sphere of higher education. In order to do this, students would be asked to disclose their financial status, their parents’ or legal guardians’ financial status, their personal experiences within their institution and more. With this personal information, it would be understandable that a student would refuse or, at the very least, be reluctant to disclose this due to possible stigmatization. It is incredibly important to clearly distinguish between when a respondent is anonymous as opposed to their information being confidential. We have an obligation as researchers to make sure this line is well understood, instead of using these terms interchangeably when we clearly know better than this.
There is also the issue of deception when researching. While I may not fully understand all of the nuances of social research, I can certainly see how this can complicate research. In my personal experience, I was collecting data from multiple people on their usage of Pokémon Go. I went into multiple Facebook groups and spoke with the admins before posting within their groups. I thought to myself if I should or should not be completely honest upfront with the people I was speaking with. I wondered if maybe I should present myself as an independent researcher, or if I should use my university affiliation in order to provide legitimacy. In the end, I decided to be honest in the beginning and it worked in my favor. I received a plethora of responses from around the country, which was excellent. While I may not have had to use deception to achieve my goal, I could see reasons why. In some cases, the ends could justify the means such as the “Tearoom Trade” study. Thanks to Humphreys, there was more research done on the interactions of men who participate in these casual sex acts. There was even another study done called the “technological tearoom trade”.
Although deception shouldn’t be the first thought a researcher has, it is undeniably useful. However, as a community we have to make sure that people are held accountable and are indeed using deceit for the best purposes of the study.