In defence of anonymity: rejoining the criticism

Kelly, Anthony (2009) In defence of anonymity: rejoining the criticism. British Educational Research Journal, 35, (3), 431-445. (doi:10.1080/01411920802044438).


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This article is a response to the growing criticisms of the British Educational Research Association (BERA) and Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) ethical guidelines on anonymity and pseudonymity as default positions for participants in qualitative educational research. It discusses and responds to those criticisms under four headings—illusion, impossibility and undesirability, access and quality—and extends the explication of difficulties to quantitative approaches using an example from value-added effectiveness research. The article discusses potential flaws in the arguments made against anonymous and pseudonymous research, and presents some issues for the research community to take forward. Finally, some suggestions are offered for a modified code of practice regarding anonymity and pseudonymity, which attempts a more subtle capture of difficulties in the field and qualifies the existing rationale to take account of previously unconsidered technical concerns.

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1080/01411920802044438
Additional Information: First published as an iFirst article 19 August 2008
ISSNs: 0141-1926 (print)
Related URLs:
Keywords: anonymity, research ethics, pseudonymity, research guidelines
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BJ Ethics
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
L Education > L Education (General)
Divisions : University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Education > Leadership, School Improvement and Effectiveness
ePrint ID: 63556
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
19 June 2009Published
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2008
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 12:48

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