Insider or Outsider? The Salience of Researcher Identity in the Context of a Qualitative Study of Early Help for Families Where There is Child Neglect

David Hogg, John Crossland, Kieron Hatton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This methodologically focused case arises from the lead author’s professional doctorate in social work at the University of Portsmouth that was supervised by the two co-authors. It considers issues that are encountered in the context of professional doctorate research, particularly changes in the research context during the study, working across professional practice and academic settings, and insider–outsider researcher issues. A change of job and work location for the lead author part-way through the study provided an opportunity to compare researching organizational issues as an “insider” (in the early stages of the study) and as an “outsider” (in the latter stages). Analysis of the differences between the findings generated from each of these perspectives highlights how the positioning of the researcher in relation to the organization under investigation can impact on the research process. The study was a qualitative investigation of access to early help for families where there is neglect of young (pre-school) children. It was conducted from a social constructionist perspective, and the findings were considered using ideas from ecological analysis and street-level bureaucracy. Data collection involved semi-structured interviews of parents, focus groups of children’s services practitioners, and a focus group of community volunteers. Data analysis used NVivo 11 coding and thematic network analysis. Practical strategies that the lead author found helpful in the research are outlined, for example, negotiating commissioning decisions, maintaining reflexive research logs, peer shadowing and debriefing, achieving clarity around dual supervision arrangements, using a research design evaluation framework, ways of monitoring organizational change, and negotiating with reluctant gatekeepers.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSage Research Methods
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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