I’m Okay, You’re Okay?: Reflections on the Well-Being and Ethical Requirements of Researchers and Research Participants in Conducting Qualitative Fieldwork Interviews

  • Wendy Mitchell
  • Annie Irvine

Abstract

In this paper the authors present their reflections on a U.K. government–funded study exploring mental health and employment. Conducting research on a sensitive theme with a potentially vulnerable group gave renewed focus to some social research issues, including consent and control, rapport building, managing and responding to emotion, and offering appropriate longer term support. The researchers discuss their personal approaches and experiences (practical, methodological, ethical) during and after the fieldwork process. In the paper the authors highlight some of the challenges they faced and discuss how these were addressed and managed, sometimes differently, and not always resolved. They demonstrate the need for researchers to be aware of their “research footprint,” in particular the need to be reflexive and responsive to participants’ emotional well-being, and for funders and employers to also be sensitive to and mindful of the demands of social research, including impacts on researchers’ well-being.

Author Biographies

Wendy Mitchell
Wendy Mitchell is a Research Fellow at the Social Policy Research Unit, University of York. She works within the Children and Families Team and her specific interest are families with disabled or chronically ill children.
Annie Irvine
Annie Irvine is a Research Fellow at the Social Policy Research Unit, University of York. She works within the Social Security and Living Standards Team and her specific interests are in employment and mental health and unemployment, sickness and disability benefits.
Published
2008-12-23
Section
Articles