Joe Sent Me - Some Personal Reflections on the Problems of Gaining Access
If I say Joe sent me will you let me in behind the green door (F. Vaughan) Although fieldwork is a necessary component of qualitative research and the gaining (and maintaining) of access to an organisation is often fraught with difficulties and anxieties, such issues are largely ignored by the research literature. This paper draws on the personal reflections of two researchers undertaking completely independent and separate projects. Despite the research settings being as diverse as a light engineering firm and a failing school, the paper explores how the experiences of the researchers in the field were inherently similar. The rationale in writing the paper is the hope that it may generate a response, perhaps even a debate, on what are important, though largely ignored, aspects of qualitative research. With this in mind, the findings upon which this paper is based should not be seen as prescriptive, they are simply accounts of attempts to overcome problems encountered whilst undertaking social research.