Accessing the community: Gaining insider perspectives from the outside

Judith Sixsmith, Margaret Boneham, John E. Goldring

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

100 Citations (Scopus)


Accessing participants for research projects is often treated as unproblematic. However the experience outlined here of negotiating access to participants within a community setting illustrates the inherent difficulties of recruitment. The authors describe the techniques used and practical challenges faced when accessing participants within a socially deprived community for a qualitative research project on social capital. They used a number of different strategies to generate a diverse sample including advertising, snowballing, accessing gatekeepers, and street surveys. The value of a stakeholder analysis is described alongside issues surrounding the use of gatekeepers. Rather than acting as outsiders seeking participants at every available opportunity, a more fortuitous strategy involved the ethnographic approach of "being there" as active contributors to community life. Here, the cornerstones of credibility and trust were addressed in a process of continually negotiating access from a semi-insider position.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)578-589
Number of pages12
JournalQualitative Health Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2003


  • Community
  • Recruitment
  • Research process
  • Researcher role
  • Stakeholder analysis

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