I feel the force of your argument. That’s a good thing. I’m glad that you feel strongly about informing participants of research findings. Personally, I see no problem in doing so, either. My point, however, is that there is no necessary obligation to do so. Oliver (2010) points to some benefits to participants being involved with a research project; the sense of being listened to, the notion that they are being helpful, the idea that the research may bring value to the participant’s community and so on.
We must remember that participants are not forced into the project. Or if they are, that is a serious breach of ethics (Cohen, Manion, & Morrison, 2011) and should be avoided at all costs. The issue is made more complex in the case of teacher-researchers because of the power dynamics involved making the problem of covert forcing a potential threat. Leaving that glitch out of the discussion for the moment, I don’t necessarily believe that researchers ‘use’ participants any more than participants ‘use’ researchers. Sure, there is a disparity between the social levels of an educated researcher and a student, but this is only one example. Oliver (2010) also discusses the problems in research when the younger researcher interviews senior members of an organisation.
To rephrase my point, perhaps I would say that it is unethical to deliberately hide one’s research from participants when disclosure is an option. This, I agree with. However, it is another thing to state that we have an ethical duty to provide participants with our findings. What would you do after finishing a 1,000-respondent study? Would you attempt to make sure that every one got a copy of your paper?
(Please forgive the lack of references. I’m on a long-distance bus without a reference manager. But all of the citations can be found in my earlier posts.)