The emotional wellbeing of doctoral students conducting qualitative research with vulnerable populations

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Abstract

Qualitative studies have the potential to evoke emotional distress among participants, particularly where sensitive issues are explored. Consequently, novice qualitative researchers become well versed in strategies to minimise risk to participants. But what happens to the novice researcher when they are confronted with the emotional account of a participant? While research practices consistently serve to protect the wellbeing of participants, concern for researcher wellbeing is often overlooked. This study explored doctoral students' experiences of undertaking qualitative research projects with vulnerable populations, and the ways in which this influenced their emotional wellbeing. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with six doctoral candidates attending a public Australian university. The analysis shed light on the ways in which doctoral students navigate their emotional wellbeing, pointing to a range of challenges and resources. This article discusses potential intervention points throughout doctoral candidature, while pondering deeper questions about the responsibilities of universities to support early career researchers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1522-1545
Number of pages24
JournalThe Qualitative Report
Volume26
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2021

Keywords

  • wellbeing
  • doctoral
  • student
  • qualitative
  • vulnerability
  • higher degree

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