Other Considerations when Working with Human Participants

Cultural sensitivities and Cultural Differences

Cultural sensitivity begins with the understanding that there are differences among cultures. Furthermore, cultural sensitivity includes placing value on this diversity.

Cultural Sensitivity - Knowing that cultural differences as well as similarities exist, without assigning values (i.e. better or worse, right or wrong) to those cultural differences and the extent to which these may impact on the research and its viability and validity.

Some things to consider:

  • Develop awareness: take a look at your own biases and prejudices, become aware of cultural norms, attitudes, and beliefs, and value diversity;
  • Don’t allow cultural differences (preferences) to become the basis for criticism and judgements. Differences are neither good nor bad – it is what we do with them that makes a difference;
  • Take time to listen. If you don’t understand, or you are not being understood, take the time to find out why. Explain or ask questions. For example, “Would you help me understand?”

Language Issues

especially in relation to the collection, recording and reporting of data. It is important to emphasise that English is the language that must be used for reporting data. It is the responsibility of the researcher or project team to provide sufficient evidence, where the collecting and recording is in another language, of accurate translation. This may, for example, involve independent translation into English of consent forms, data collection instruments or other documentation used in the research. Ultimately it is essential for quality assurance purposes that the research supervisor and external examiners are able to verify all aspects of the research.