Five SAGE Research Cases were featured in a series of posts on the topic of collaboration. In this series of posts we will revisit these cases and explore the research designs and approaches used to conduct each respective study.
The cases are open access for a limited time. If the links have expired, you can access them through with a 30-day free trial of the Cases platform, using your academic email address.
Qualitative Research Collaborations
Qualitative research is especially challenging when you are studying sensitive issues, with vulnerable populations. Success entails not only negotiations with service providers who serve as gatekeepers, but also with the participants themselves.
Some research problems can only be understood with in-depth understanding of the difficult lived experience. Studying these deeply personal matters is challenging on many fronts: gaining access to consenting participants, and then gaining their trust. Ethical issues are, so to speak, in your face– not on a form that is approved by an ethics or IRB board. This practical research case shows how one researcher addressed these issues.
Research on sensitive topics and/or with vulnerable people
poses specific ethical difficulties and tensions. These include tensions between researcher and participant needs, such as conveying to participants the possibility of distress while not discouraging participation, developing safety protocols for both the participants and the researcher, and staying within the confines of the research topic (as described to ethics review boards and funders) versus allowing participants to influence the agenda. (Curtis, 2018, p. 6)
The case will be valuable to students or novice researchers who can benefit from Curtis’ thoughtful efforts. Discussion questions and exercises will help readers think about how to use the lessons learned in their own studies.
Here is a map of key elements of this case. As you can see, qualitative research methodology and in-depth interview methods for data collection are at the heart of this case. (More about knowledge mapping here.)