chapter  1
6 Pages

Introduction

If you are reading this book you are probably a doctoral researcher, or you might be a doctoral supervisor. Quite probably you will be engaging with insider research that complements your professional life as a practitioner in the public sectors of education, social work and health studies. You may be a candidate for a professional doctorate such as the Education Doctorate, the Doctorate of Health and Social Care or the Doctor of Business Administration. You may be on a traditional PhD programme, or undertaking one of the new PhDs that closely resemble many professional doctorates, as a practitioner researcher, working at doctoral level. You may be at the beginning of your doctoral journey, or you may have come to understand, from your experience to date, that conducting research as an insider brings its own challenges and you may be addressing these. You may not be in the same country as the university in which you are registered, and you may be undertaking your doctoral study at a distance. Insider research depends upon the researcher having some experience or insight into the worlds in which the research is being undertaken and this may be from a personal point of view as well as, or instead of, from a professional perspective. Whilst recognising that personal values are significant, and that many of the tensions elaborated throughout the book will be experienced also by those who are not engaged as professionals in the research field, this book is written with a focus on practitioner research by professionals seeking a doctoral degree. As has been pointed out by others (Merton & Storer, 1973), even though insider research undertaken by practitioners often means enquiring about one’s own work organisation, it is not a necessary condition. Rather, an insider researcher may be described as an individual who possesses intimate knowledge of ‘the community and its members’ (Hellawell, 2006: 483), and since the word ‘community’ has wider implications than a single organisation, possessing intimate professional knowledge does not necessarily mean being employed by a particular organisation.