Conducting Research in Difficult, Dangerous, and/or Vulnerable Contexts: Messy Narratives from the Field

Brittany L. Peterson*, Oana B. Albu, Kirsten Foot, Darvelle Hutchins, Jack Qiu, Craig R. Scott, Michael Stohl, Sarah J. Tracy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Organizational communication scholars have historically conducted research in large for-profit businesses, governmental agencies, and a few high-profile nonprofits/NGOs—all of which are relatively easy to access and presumably “safe” to study. It is largely unsurprising, then, that limited scholarship addresses the challenges associated with conducting research in less standard contexts that are often perceived to be difficult, dangerous, and/or vulnerable (DDV). In this forum, we offer lived stories—unfiltered messy narratives—to demystify three core ethical challenges inherent in conducting research of this nature and share how we (imperfectly) navigated them. In addition, we offer practical strategies for conducting research in DDV contexts. Taken together, our overall collective aim is to successfully prepare future scholars to conduct research projects in DDV contexts.
Original languageEnglish
JournalManagement Communication Quarterly
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)174-204
Number of pages31
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022

Bibliographical note

Published online: December 30, 2021.


  • Access
  • Fieldwork
  • Ethnography
  • Interviewing
  • Risk

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