• ‘I call it the hero complex’ – Critical considerations of power and privilege and seeking to be an agent of change in qualitative researchers’ experiences.

      Oakley, Lisa; Fenge, Lee-Ann; Taylor, Bethan; University of Chester, Bournemouth University, My CWA
      There is a relative paucity of studies specifically exploring the experiences of qualitative researchers undertaking research in socially sensitive areas or with marginalised groups. This paper reports some of the findings of a qualitative study using semi-structured interviews to explore the experiences of ten participant researchers. The findings of this study suggest that participant researchers are cognisant of issues of power and privilege in conducting their research. They also illustrate the motivation to enact change via the research findings. However, they demonstrate the complexities of power, privilege and change in the research process and how these concepts can be related to researcher guilt. The study shows that experience can act as a buffer in the qualitative research process but that further work in researcher resilience is required. Participant researchers suggest the need for more honest and open discussions around foundational principles of qualitative research. They suggest further development of cross institutional spaces for these discussions to take place. However, the paper also illustrates the necessity to consider issues of power, privilege and research as social change at individual, institutional and systemic levels,
    • The Impact of Sensitive Research on the Researcher: Preparedness and Positionality

      Fenge, Lee Ann; Oakley, Lisa, Kathryn, Jusin & Mor Kinmond, Humphreys & Dioum; Taylor, Bethan; Beer, Sean; Bournemouth University, University of Chester, Cheshire without Abuse, Bournemouth University
      There is currently limited research exploring the impact of undertaking sensitive or challenging research on the researcher, although some textbooks explore researcher preparedness. This article presents a discussion of the findings from a research project which engaged with the seldom heard voices of researchers themselves. The aim was to explore researchers’ experiences of undertaking research on sensitive topics, or with marginalized groups, as this can expose researchers to emotionally disturbing situations throughout data collection and analysis, which can be psychologically challenging. Although ethical codes of practice include discussion around protection of both the researcher and the participant, in practice, the ethics approval process rarely considers the impact of the proposed research on the researcher. Their experiences are therefore seldom acknowledged or heard, resulting in potential distress for the researcher. Semi- structured interviews were undertaken with social science researchers from a range of discipline backgrounds and at different points in their research careers (n = 10). This article explores two themes emerging from the data: preparedness and positionality. It considers what these themes mean in terms of supporting researchers who encounter challenging research data, and issues related to supporting researcher reflexivity and the requirements for institutional support offered to researchers will also be considered.