This paper aims at conceptualizing research ethics in qualitative research with Buddhist teachings. As a Buddhist, I first introduce how Buddhism came to be central in my life and eventually influenced me as a qualitative researcher. I exemplify how the concepts of all-beings-are-equal, karma, the five precepts, and repentance might inspire a qualitative practice that centers ethics and informs a researcher’s interactions with participants. I suggest that researchers not only work on reflecting on their body (actions), speech (talk), and mind (thoughts) but more importantly, move beyond just reflection and reflexivity to facing and resolving “unwholesome” moments that may arise during the research process. I thus demonstrate how to repent in regard to one’s research-related actions, speech, and thoughts, with a particular focus on doing-no-harm and truthfulness. To illustrate, I offer an example from my own research that highlights how Buddhist teachings might be relevant in practice. My arguments aim to contribute to the literature on research ethics by introducing repentance by the researchers, alongside the Buddhist precepts, as central to ethical qualitative research practice.


Buddhist teachings, no-harming, no-lying, repentance, research ethics

Author Bio(s)

Pei-Jung Li is a Ph.D. candidate in qualitative and quantitative research methodology at Indiana University Bloomington. She received her first master’s degree in education in Taiwan and her second master’s degree in learning sciences from Indiana University Bloomington. Her current works center around international students in higher education, research ethics, researcher-participant relationship, and Buddhist-informed qualitative research practices. Please direct correspondence to gisella0423yume@hotmail.com.


I would like to express my special thanks of gratitude to my mentor, Dr. Jessica Lester, for her continuous supporting and closely refining my writing and ideas throughout this work. I also want to thank Dr. Phil Carspecken, Dr. Peiwei Li, and Dr. Barbara Dennis, for providing constructive feedback as I developed this manuscript.

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