On "being' participants and a researcher in a longitudinal professional identity study

Michelle McLean, Charlotte Alexander, Arjun Khaira

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterEducationpeer-review


Challenges of longitudinal qualitative research (LQR) include participant motivation and researcher continuity. Following a six-year study of two medical students (Arjun and Charlotte) from Year 1 to their first year as interns, this submission explores our motivations and experiences of “being” participants and a researcher in LQR. To explore our experiences in different roles in the professional identity study, we used what we have called a textual conversational approach. We posed questions to each other and responded individually. I (the researcher) collated and recirculated the responses for further comment. This final working document (a written conversation) became the “data”.

Our “conversation” as participants and researcher highlighted a range of LQR considerations. From participants’ perspectives, initial participation in a study may depend on intrinsic motivation (i.e., a sense of responsibility) and continued participation may depend on perceived personal benefit (i.e., therapeutic in this case). Who the interviewer is matters, with Charlotte and Arjun initially preferring an independent person with no “power.” As the interview location needs to be safe and familiar, it should be the participant’s choice. From a researcher perspective, our conversation identified the pros and cons of a researcher’s status, i.e., being an “insider” (interviewer) or an “outsider” (listening to recordings and reading transcripts). Since being a qualitative researcher can be emotional, emotional intelligence is important. In LQR, cognizance thus needs to be taken of a range of considerations both in terms of participants and the researcher.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationClinical Education for the Health Professions: Theory and Practice
EditorsDebra Nestel, Gabriel Reedy, L McKenna, Suzanne Gough
Place of PublicationSingapore
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)978-981-13-6106-7
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 Jan 2021


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