Experiences of an insider researcher – interviewing your own colleagues
evidence and practice    

Experiences of an insider researcher – interviewing your own colleagues

Gemma Elizabeth Aburn Nurse specialist/doctoral candidate, Paediatric Palliative Care Starship Children’s Health, Auckland, New Zealand
Merryn Gott Professor, School of Nursing, The University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
Karen Hoare Nurse practitioner/associate professor, Massey University Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

Why you should read this article:
  • To appreciate the benefits of being an insider researcher when researching your own colleagues

  • To understand the challenges that come with being an insider researcher

  • To consider the role of reflective practice in nursing research as an insider researcher

Background The literature has described researching people you know or being an ‘insider’ researcher in a variety of settings. However, the literature has largely focused on the challenges and risks associated with researching in your own community, and has neglected to articulate the benefits for research studies and participants.

Aim To summarise the literature looking at the role of the insider researcher and explore reflections about insider research made by participants in a constructionist grounded theory study.

Discussion This article reflects on the participant-researcher relationship in a grounded theory study exploring staff experiences of working in children’s blood and cancer centres in New Zealand. It uses participants’ reflections to further the discussion of the benefits of being an insider researcher, in the context of interviewing your own colleagues.

Conclusion The challenges of being an insider researcher include the potential for power differentials in relationships with participants, the risk of assumed understanding and the challenge for the researcher of managing emotional burden. These challenges can be minimised by writing reflective memos throughout the research. The benefits of being an insider researcher include the ability to rapidly develop rapport with participants, and participation as a cathartic and therapeutic process for participants.

Implications for practice Reflective practice is critical and essential when undertaking nursing research as an insider researcher.

Nurse Researcher. doi: 10.7748/nr.2021.e1794

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software



Conflict of interest

None declared

Aburn GE, Gott M, Hoare K (2021) Experiences of an insider researcher – interviewing your own colleagues. Nurse Researcher. doi: 10.7748/nr.2021.e1794

Published online: 17 June 2021

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