Prioritising doctoral students' wellbeing in qualitative research

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    18 Citations (Scopus)


    As novice researchers, doctoral students undertaking qualitative research become well-versed in strategies that should be adopted to minimise risk to participants. But what happens when a researcher is confronted with the complex, emotional account of a participant? Despite the consistent emphasis on participant safety, many doctoral students are not explicitly prompted to consider how they will negotiate their own emotional wellbeing throughout the research process. This is particularly important when conducting qualitative research with vulnerable populations. In these situations, sensitive and difficult topics are often discussed, with numerous risks to participants and researchers alike. However, concern for researcher wellbeing is seemingly ignored or addressed in an ad-hoc manner across all levels of the research process. This oversight is reinforced by ethics applications that require a compelling response surrounding potential burdens to participants, without prompting any explicit consideration of those individuals actually undertaking the research. While previous research acknowledges multiple vulnerabilities of doctoral students, with respect to generic anxiety and exhaustion, we suggest that researcher wellbeing might be further compromised due to the nature of the study. In this paper, we argue that current research training processes and university support structures are generally not sufficiently robust to protect novice researchers and participants and call for advances in research and practices to this end.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numberArticle 1
    Pages (from-to)311-318
    Number of pages8
    JournalQualitative Report
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018


    • Qualitative research
    • Researcher wellbeing
    • Vulnerability


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