Ethical Dilemmas in Feminist Research

The Politics of Location, Interpretation, and Publication

By Gesa E. Kirsch

Subjects: Composition And Rhetoric Studies
Paperback : 9780791442104, 133 pages, March 1999
Hardcover : 9780791442098, 133 pages, April 1999

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Table of contents



1. Feminist Research and Composition Studies at a Crossroads

2. What Do You Know about My Life, Anyway? Ethical Dilemmas in Researcher-Participant Relations

3. Whose Words? Whose Reality? The Politics of Representation and Interpretation

4. Who Is Going to Read This? The Politics of Publication

5. Toward an Ethics of Research
Gesa E. Kirsch and Peter Mortenson




Proposes feminist research principles to assist in making informed decisions to address ethical dilemmas that arise in research and teaching.


By addressing ethical dilemmas in a wide range of situations—qualitative research studies, interview studies, studies of classroom practice, studies of student writing, and feminist work—Gesa Kirsch explores some important questions: Can researchers represent the experiences of others without misrepresenting, misappropriating, or distorting their realities? What are researchers' responsibilities toward research participants, students, and readers? What ethical principles can guide researchers when they encounter participants who share highly confidential information or work with institutions who wish to conceal relevant information?

Gesa E. Kirsch is Associate Executive Director of the National Council of Teachers of English and Visiting Associate Professor of English and Writing Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She is the author of Women Writing the Academy and coeditor of Ethics and Representation in Qualitative Studies of Literacy (with Peter Mortensen); Methods and Methodology in Composition Research (with Patricia A. Sullivan); and A Sense of Audience in Written Communication (with Duane Roen).


"In this engaging and well-written book, Gesa Kirsch makes a cogent and persuasive plea that feminist researchers not abandon ethnography and other forms of qualitative research, especially since more and more women and minority scholars are contributing substantively to feminist research in composition. This book is a must-read for all feminist compositionists interested in qualitative research. " — Lynn Worsham, University of South Florida, coeditor of Feminism and Composition: In Other Words

"Kirsch's balance and blend of her own argument, her own experiences, and the argument and experience of others is wonderful. All those various voices (hers, other research participants, other researchers) and various rhetorical genres (argument, narration, exposition, description) work so well together. This is a book long-needed, especially in rhetoric and composition—an in-depth critique of the key parts of the qualitative research process and the ethical dilemmas therein. Kirsch's ability to ask the hard questions about an approach or perspective even as she approves it is remarkable. " — Brenda Jo Brueggemann, Ohio State University