The Impact of Sensitive Research on the Researcher: Preparedness and Positionality
AffiliationBournemouth University, University of Chester, Cheshire without Abuse, Bournemouth University
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AbstractThere 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.
CitationFenge, L., Oakley, L., Taylor, B., & Beer, S. (2019). The Impact of Sensitive Research on the Researcher: Preparedness and Positionality. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 18(8), 1-8.
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