“How can you write about a person who does not exist?”: rethinking pseudonymity and informed consent in life history research

Mukungu, Kate ORCID logo ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3403-8165 (2017) “How can you write about a person who does not exist?”: rethinking pseudonymity and informed consent in life history research. Social Sciences, 6 (3). p. 86.

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci6030086


This methodology paper recommends that, when possible, qualitative research on activism should be designed to enable each participant to choose between using a pseudonym and one’s actual name. The stance is informed by life history data collection encounters with women in post-conflict settings whose activism seeks to eliminate violence against women and girls (VAWG). The benefits of accommodating a mix of names make this a viable alternative to the prevalent practice of obscuring all participants’ identities with pseudonyms. Writing about participants in a way that does no harm to them depends on the care and attention with which the researcher ascribes or dissociates data to or from them, regardless of the name used. Process consent is desirable as participants’ consent is not fully informed prior to data collection. One aspect of informed consent worthy of attention is the need to explain the methods of data analysis and presentation of findings to life history participants. The above practices help ensure that negotiating informed consent with participants whilst acting towards the principle of doing no harm are tailored to the particular features of the life history method.

Item Type: Article
Journal / Publication Title: Social Sciences
Publisher: MDPI
ISSN: 2076-0760
Departments: Academic Departments > Business, Law, Policing & Social Sciences (BLPSS) > Policing, Criminology & Social Sciences
Additional Information: This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
Depositing User: Anna Lupton
Date Deposited: 26 Sep 2017 10:18
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2024 18:02
URI: https://insight.cumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/3224


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