What’s in it for us? consent, access, and the meaning of research in a qualitative longitudinal study

Rebecca Taylor, Malin Arvidson, Rob Macmillan, Andri Soteri-Proctor, Simon Teasdale

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


    Recruiting third sector organizations (TSOs) to a qualitative longitudinal (QL) study turned out to be in some cases a time-consuming and challenging process, and in others a little too easy. The governance structures of the organizations approached were not always simple to navigate with some organizations in a state of flux. Stakeholders’ different understandings of the meaning of research created tensions around anonymity. Establishing meaningful consent was not a straightforward process: who has the authority to grant “organizational” consent? This chapter explores the process of gaining consent and access, and maintaining relationships with research participants in “Real Times”; a study of TSOs and activities over three years. By third sector we refer to a range of non-governmental organizations and activities, including voluntary organizations, community groups, and social enterprises. Whilst the study is concerned with UK-focused organizations the issues raised can be seen to have direct relevance to the NGO sector and NGO scholarship more generally. Drawing on researchers’ field notes on the recruitment process, and interviews with the research team a year into the project conducted by one member of the team, we unpack some of the practical and ethical challenges of undertaking QL research in organizations.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationMethodological Challenges and New Approaches to Research in International Development
    PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
    Number of pages21
    ISBN (Print)978-1-349-45127-2
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


    • consent
    • access
    • meaning of research
    • qualitative longitudinal study
    • third sector organisations


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