Picking the ‘proper hat?’ Emerging ethical dilemmas while juggling nursing and research roles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aim: The aim of this study is to explore ethical dilemmas inherent in two potentially conflicting roles: practising nurse and researcher. Background: Ethical guidelines for practice and research in nursing have been widely discussed. Yet examining ethical dilemmas that emerge from engaging in the dual role of nurse–researcher is rare. Method: A qualitative approach was employed, using semi-structured interviews with 15 nurse–researchers. Data were analysed using thematic analysis. Results: One theme emerged with three subthemes of nurse–researcher role definitions: primarily nurse, primarily researcher and combined nurse–researcher. Each subtheme had three dimensions: (a) how ethical dilemmas were expressed in encounters with role colleagues, (b) coping strategies and (c) implications for nurse–researchers. Conclusion: Primarily nurses or primarily researchers experienced conflict in encounters with role colleagues, developed less effective coping strategies and reported impaired well-being. Conversely, combined nurse–researchers said each role nourished the other. Implications for nursing management: Nursing policymakers and managers should support the nurse–researcher role by developing a code of ethics that acknowledges the dual role's inherent dilemmas, assimilate organisational routines and roles that support nursing research and encourage forums for discussing staff dilemmas.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Nursing Management
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • ethical dilemmas in nursing research
  • qualitative research
  • research ethics
  • researcher's role conflict
  • thematic analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Leadership and Management


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