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This article discusses some of the ethical and methodological challenges experienced throughout a doctoral study focusing on boarding house residents in Sydney, Australia, particularly participants’ fear of retribution. Informing the research were forty interviews with a range of participants including current and former licensed boarding house residents, proprietors of boarding houses, and staff of community organizations and government agencies providing support services or monitoring the conditions in boarding houses. The article discusses and analyses the complexity and understandings of anonymity, confidentiality, informed consent and the meanings and implications of de-identification. Some of the strategies to address these complexities are presented and are significant for qualitative researchers, particularly doctoral and early career researchers.


School of Allied Health

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Journal Article

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