Ethical confessions of the “I” of autoethnography: the student's dilemma

Clair Doloriert (Bangor Business School, Bangor University, Bangor, UK)
Sally Sambrook (Bangor Business School, Bangor University, Bangor, UK)

Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management

ISSN: 1746-5648

Publication date: 8 May 2009



This paper aims to draw attention to a unique paradox concerning doing an autoethnography as a PhD. On the one hand, a student may feel a pull towards revealing a vulnerable, intimate, autoethnographic self, yet on the other hand she may be pushed away from this because the oral/viva voce examination process may deny the student anonymity. Through the telling of this tale the complexities concerning self‐disclosure and student autoethnography reveal are explored.


The tale is autoethnographic: a fictionalised account based on real events and co‐constructed from substantial field notes, personal diaries, e‐mails, and reports.


This paper contributes to relational ethics concerned with self‐disclosure and the “I” of a reveal, and highlight the possibilities for developing Medford's notion of mindful slippage as a strategy for removing highly personal and possibly harmful elements within student autoethnography.

Research limitations/implications

The paper provides a preliminary theoretical framework that has not been empirically tested and is situated within “introspective” autoethnographic research.


The paper takes an innovative approach to autoethnography, addressing ethical value systems specifically within a PhD context.



Doloriert, C. and Sambrook, S. (2009), "Ethical confessions of the “I” of autoethnography: the student's dilemma", Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management, Vol. 4 No. 1, pp. 27-45.

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Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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