Engaging human service practitioners as partners in research about sensitive areas of front-line work can be difficult for a range of reasons. Time constraints, geographic limitations, trust in the research relationship, issues of privacy, and fear of professional judgment are only some of the barriers that researchers need to overcome in order to assist workers to become involved in a reflective process about areas of practice. This article outlines the development of a new method of qualitative data collection designed to aid the reflective process and assist practitioners to engage in an ongoing dialogue about complex ethical dilemmas they had experienced in relation to their work with clients, colleagues, managers and organizations. These ethical dilemmas occurred in the contexts of health, mental health, child protection, work with young people, community work, disability, family violence, aged care and research. This is the story of how the concept of E m ail-Facilitated Reflective Dialogue was born. It is the story of how Email- Facilitated Reflective Dialogue became a method of data generation and a tool for reflection on issues of ethics, how twenty social workers throughout Australia experienced it as a reflective medium, and how we, as partners in research, experienced and evaluated the process.


Qualitative Research, Data Generation, Social Work Ethics, Ethical Dilemmas

Publication Date


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.




Submission Location


To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.