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The SAGE Encyclopedia of Social Science Research Methods

Michael S. Lewis-Beck & Alan Bryman & Tim Futing Liao

Pub. date: 2004 | DOI:

Print ISBN: 9780761923633 | Online ISBN: 9781412950589

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Encyclopedia Entry


Joan E. Sieber

Originally a military term, debriefing means questioning or instructing at the end of a mission or period of service. As used in human research, debriefing refers to a conversation between investigator and subject that occurs after the research session. Debriefing is the post-session counterpart of informed consent and should be conducted in a way that benefits and respects the subject. Debriefing may have several purposes. Generally, it is an opportunity for the subject to ask questions and for the investigator to thank the subject for participating, more fully explain the research, and discuss the subjects' perception of the research experience. Research participation can have educational or therapeutic value for participants, and debriefing is an appropriate opportunity to consolidate these values through appropriate conversation and handouts. Debriefing also provides an important opportunity for the researcher to learn how subjects perceived the research and why they behaved as they did. The perceptive ...

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