Hearing the story: a case study exploration of microethics and care in qualitative research

Emma Maynard

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle


This reflective case study investigates the experience of an ethically important research experience for both researcher and participant, “Abbie,” when she disclosed on-going trauma from domestic violence and related issues. The ethic of care which surrounded the event is viewed through a feminist perspective and considers the value of instinctive reflexivity and microethics in research. It is evident from writing that much is to be learned through reflecting on such key events, so as to inform future research methodologies which leave room for reflexivity in research. Abbie’s story challenged the scripted core purpose of Children’s Centre intervention as her narrative indicated value derived from the physical warmth and safety of the building, the relationships formed, and significantly, in the routine and purpose offered to her through becoming a volunteer. These factors appeared far more significant to Abbie than the quantifiable services she accessed. Abbie articulated a deeply meaningful and profound experience of the Children’s Centre, which would not have been captured by routine service user ratings of services. This case concludes that well-informed professional instinct, phronesis, can prioritize an ethical care value base in research and may lead to stronger, if unanticipated, research outcomes as a result. It also considers the perceptive systems which support reflexivity. The name “Abbie” is a pseudonym used to protect confidentiality.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages26
Specialist publicationSAGE Research Methods
PublisherSAGE Publications Inc.
Publication statusPublished - 27 Oct 2017


  • working with parents
  • families and communities


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