Sensitive educational research
Much educational research can be sensitive, in several senses, and researchers have to be acutely aware of a variety of delicate issues. This chapter sets out different ways in which educational research might be sensitive. It then takes two significant issues in the planning and conduct of sensitive research – sampling and access – and indicates why these twin concerns might be troublesome for researchers, and how they might be addressed. Our outline includes a discussion of gatekeepers and their roles. Sensitive research raises a range of difficult, sometimes intractable, ethical issues, and we set out some of these in the chapter. Investigations involving powerful people are taken as an instance of sensitive educational research, and this is used as a vehicle for examining several key problematic matters in this area. The chapter moves to a practical note, proffering advice on how to ask questions in sensitive research. Finally, the chapter sets out a range of key issues to be addressed in the planning, conduct and reporting of sensitive research.