University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

Balancing insider-outsider postioning in near-to-practice research

Dhillon, Jaswinder ORCID: (2019) Balancing insider-outsider postioning in near-to-practice research. In: International Professional Development Association (IPDA) conference, 29-30 November 2019, Aston university UK. (Unpublished)

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This paper is a think/opinion piece on researcher positioning in near-to-practice research. I argue that researcher positionality is not a neutral aspect of methodology or method but a fundamental feature of research design that needs to be considered, justified and defended at all stages of the research process. This is particularly the case in near-to-practice research where researchers navigate professional, inter-professional and disciplinary boundaries in complex practice-based settings as well as negotiate their own role and identify as a researcher, which we may term their 'researcher self'. This complex ontological and epistemological navigation and negotiation of multiple dimensions of the researcher self requires creativity, reflexivity and ethical sensitivity and a nuanced conceptualisation of researcher positionality. However, such conceptualisations and the issues and dilemmas arising from varying and fluid researcher postioning are not prominent in discussions of research methodology. The traditional binaries and dualities of, for example, insider/outsider, subjectivity/objectivity, validity/reliability of quantitative/qualitative data, continue to persist in perceptions of the quality, significance and rigour of research in professional communities in education, health and other fields of near-to-practice research. In keeping with the conference strand, thinking otherwise about method and methodology, I propose that the notion of the 'researcher self' opens up debate about navigating and balancing multiple positionalities when undertaking empirical research in professional practice. The paper draws on examples of original empirical studies, undertaken by myself in collaboration with other researchers (Dhillon and Thomas 2018, Dhillon et. al 2017, Dhillon and Bentley 2016) and the work of doctoral students I have co-supervised in the professional fields of education and health (Hooker 2016, Smith 2018). It considers issues, dilemmas and researcher decision-making in balancing insider-outsider positioning in specific near-to-practice contexts. It builds on theoretical distinctions, such as 'multiple selves' (Coffey 1999) and this empirical research experience to offer a more nuanced conceptualisation of researcher positionality. This can generate richer and deeper insights into professional practice and justify the fluidity of researcher positioning as central to thinking about method and methodology.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
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A pdf file of this conference PowerPoint presentation is available to download via this record.

Copyright Jaswinder Dhillon. This presentation is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. To view a copy of this license, visit

Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: ethics, practice -based research, insider research, researching positioning
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education
Divisions: College of Arts, Humanities and Education > School of Education
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Depositing User: Jaswinder Dhillon
Date Deposited: 05 Oct 2020 15:26
Last Modified: 07 Dec 2020 17:13

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