Global health anthropology

Researcher-researched relationship in qualitative research: Shifts in positions and researcher vulnerability

Målfrid Råheim, Liv Heide Magnussen, Ragnhild Johanne Tveit Sekse, Åshild Lunde, Torild Jacobsen, Astrid Blystad

Photo: Astrid Blystad

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The researcher role is highly debated in qualitative research. This article concerns the researcher-researched relationship.

A group of health science researchers anchored in various qualitative research traditions gathered in reflective group discussions over a period of two years.

Efforts to establish an anti-authoritarian relationship between researcher and researched, negotiation of who actually ‘‘rules’’ the research agenda, and experiences of shifts in ‘‘inferior’’ and ‘‘superior’’ knowledge positions emerged as central and intertwined themes throughout the discussions. The dual role as both insider and outsider, characteristic of qualitative approaches, seemed to lead to power relations and researcher vulnerability which manifested in tangible ways.

Shifting positions and vulnerability surfaced in various ways in the projects. They nonetheless indicated a number of similar experiences which can shed light on the researcher-researched relationship. These issues could benefit from further discussion in the qualitative health research literature.