Journal article Open Access

If My Participants say "You're Wrong," Does it Mean I really Am?

Quatrini, Allison

In addition to the sharing of their lives, part of the close relationship that participants can have with researchers is an interest in the research project itself. Some participants are curious about the inner workings of the project and how researchers intend to use the information gleaned from field site visits. This subject differs from existing literature on the ethnographic endeavor. Some work focuses on the identity of the researchers and the implications for the relationship with key participants (Rabinow 1977). Other work, however, examines the challenges of inviting participants into the writing process (Shokeid 1997). The following discussion also considers the dilemmas encountered when participants become part of the analysis and writing process. Unlike previous work, it examines the point at which an analyst has several ideas on paper rather than a full manuscript. Additionally, it looks at a stage past the research design period.1 Specifically, this essay addresses the following questions: Should researchers make significant adjustments when participants view them as incorrect? Are there additional factors at work that account for the discrepancy between participant and researcher interpretations?

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