The Wedding's Missing Issue

Almudena Ocaña, Robert E. Stake

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Secrets pose problems for qualitative researchers. It may be not enough to not mention the secret. Qualitative researchers work hard at discovering complexities, but work little at shrouding secrets. Anonymity slips away, perhaps first to the person most implicated. In this portrayal of a wedding, the secret might be guessed. The parents had another match in mind, yielded, but told the children to keep something secret, perhaps not knowing the researchers already knew. The issue was not mentioned in the text but perhaps it would have been better had the researcher tried not to know the secret. The account of an episode may be worth publishing because it brings out an issue of cultural or methodological importance. But the researcher may find that telling of the issue would violate the privacy of the actors, as defined by their own sense of privacy. Such was the case here. Keeping the secret unmentioned will usually be more important than revealing the secret, however anonymized, however informative it might be.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)686-688
Number of pages3
JournalQualitative Inquiry
Issue number9
StatePublished - Nov 2013


  • case study
  • complexity
  • ethical issues
  • qualitative writing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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