Undertaking pre-pilot work to gain an empathetic insight into participants’ perspectives
Evidence and practice    

Undertaking pre-pilot work to gain an empathetic insight into participants’ perspectives

Lisa S Whiting Professional lead, Children’s Nursing, University of Hertfordshire, Hertfordshire, Hatfield, England
Julia Petty Associate professor (learning and teaching), Children’s Nursing, University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, England
Brian Littlechild Professor of social work, University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, England
Sam Rogers Research fellow, Centre for Research in Primary and Community Care, University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, England

Why you should read this article:
  • To gain an insight into the value of pre-pilot work

  • To consider involving the research team as participants in pre-pilot work

  • To understand how pre-pilot work can assist in a reflective and empathetic approach to research

Background Being an empathetic researcher can be crucial in understanding participants’ perspectives. However, while the need for empathy is recognised in qualitative interview research, there is less acknowledgement of its value with other methods of collecting data. Researchers can face various challenges when the instruments and approaches used to collect data are new to them. The value of researchers acting as participants when undertaking pre-pilot work are not be underestimated.

Aim To provide a reflective account of the pre-pilot work undertaken by the authors before their main study.

Discussion Pre-pilot work that involves the researchers as participants can develop cultural competence, as well as empathetic insight into participants’ perspectives, thus enabling them to refine and strengthen their main study.

Conclusion It takes time when planning research to incorporate appropriate pre-pilot work that assists personal training and learning. However, this can pay dividends in terms of the empathetic insight gained for the refinement of the proposed study. Pre-pilot work and a reflective approach can strengthen rigour, as well as assist in planning research and collecting data.

Implications for practice Experienced researchers may be novices at using specific tools or methods of collecting data. Pre-pilot work enables a greater understanding and deeper appreciation of participants’ perspectives.

Nurse Researcher. 29, 4, 19-26. doi: 10.7748/nr.2021.e1804



Peer review

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

Conflict of interest

None declared


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