Research in the wake of tragedy

Date of publication: November 2, 2020


This paper outlines the challenges of conducting qualitative research in the aftermath of a national tragedy. As the circumstances in which the research was conducted was traumatic for all involved, intense emotion work was required, especially in the recruitment of participants and moderation of discussions. The paper demonstrates that conducting research on subjects that are socially and culturally sensitive in nature can be emotionally demanding for a researcher, and may have a powerful personal impact on them as individuals. We bring to light how emotional skills become central in such studies and are as important as the intellectual and cognitive skills utilised - if not more. Qualitative researchers need to be resilient in not only managing the emotions of participants in a study, but also at managing the emotions of other stakeholders along with their own emotions.

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