Help needed!


Hello all,

I hope you are all well and enjoyed the Christmas break. I took the rare opportunity to have a week off!

I am basically conducting semi-structured interviews for my PhD research. As the topic is such a highly sensitive area I am unable to mention any names of respondents (which i don't think you can do anyway). The point is, I am very lucky as I was able to interview some really hard to reach key people within my field and now I need to work out how to convey this into my PhD. My tutor mentioned that there may be a body of literatue out there around establishing claims. So there would be some sort of credibility measure and check, and I could convey that I used these checks.

Does anyone know anymore about this and can you point me in the right direction?



Avatar for Pjlu

Hi Jinio,

I'm a bit confused by your question-so just disregard this if completely irrelevant. The National Ethics Forum and my University's ethics committee would not allow any releasing of names in any form of qualitative research-semi-structured interviews or surveys-whatever. I don't just think this applies to highly sensitive areas or not- anything to do with human research methods and data has stringent privacy codes (here in Australia anyway). Just asking a couple of questions can take copious applications that go through rigorous appraisals through academic and industry committees.

Secondly, if you are using a basic qualitative research method and collecting data through interviews, obs, etc- don't you need to be careful about privileging information from particular sources. Just because the data has come from 'key people'-still would mean that you as researcher must be neutral about analysing this? If you did any more than indicate that this info came from person X who held anonymous position in Institution Y-wouldn't you be introducing a bias or making assumptions before you look at the rich data so to speak? Basically by infering that the data from person X (key person) is more significant or authoritative than the data from person Y.

However, as said before-I could just be misinterpreting what you are asking and someone well may have some info for you. Usually when I am looking for things that I really don't know much about, I go on google and search engine trawls using brainstormed search terms. Means I read stuff that doesn't go into my Lit Review or thesis very often but often this form of blind search actually teaches me what the terms are so I find what it is I am looking for-takes time though.


Thanks Pjlu,

I understand that all respondents have to be kept anonymous, though possibly not if they give consent to being mentioned? I am not sure about that though.

Anyway my point is that within my field, not many researchers have gone and spoken to the people 'on the ground' so to speak, which I have luckily managed to do. According to my tutor this is something I need to stress within my write up, and he said there is a body of academic literature out there which discusses this and something that I could use. He is abroad at the moment so I can't get in contact with him. I have tried toi search for it withno luck, but I have some hard time restrictions and this is why I posted this thread, as people on here may have had the same issue and may be able to recommend some good book/journal on the issue.



Avatar for Pjlu

No worries Jinio,

was indeed not much help I am afraid but perhaps someone else will have some specific literature to advise. These tutors and their holidays! Huh ;)


Not quite sure what you are trying to convey. Is it that your research is different because you have managed to reach these people? in which case you can explain why they were hard to reach and how you managed to get to them - I've also explained why my group were hard to get hold of and how I did this, how I have recognised bias in the method, but why it was important to use this approach. As far as anonymity is concerned I have stated that the possibility of inadvertant disclosure by inference makes direct quoting inadvisable, so my results will be agregated to prevent this. You might want to look at articles that note the ethics of approaching hard to reach groups - I suppose there might be some. I used information concerning internet collection of data which has some of the perils of collecting information in more unusual ways, that is not using standared selection methods. Methodology books should have sections concerning non- standard data collection.


Will do, thanks Joyce. I realistically need to spend a day in the library looking for this, but at the moment would struggle to even do that as I am so overloaded! That's why I thought I would try and get a few tips from people on here to give me a rolling start.