Undertaking pre-pilot work to gain an empathetic insight into the participant perspective

Lisa Whiting, Julia Petty, Brian Littlechild, Samantha Rogers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Background: Being an empathetic researcher can be crucial in terms of understanding the participant perspective. However, whilst the need for empathy is recognised within a qualitative interview research context, there is less acknowledgement of its value with other data collection methods. In addition, researchers can face a range of challenges when the data collection instruments and approaches are new to them. The value of researchers acting as participants when undertaking pre-pilot work (in this case, with RealCare simulation dolls) should not be under-estimated.

Aim: To provide a reflexive account of the personal preparatory pre-pilot work undertaken by the authors prior to their main study.

Discussion: Pre-pilot work that involves the researcher as a participant can facilitate an empathetic insight into the participant perspective, thus enabling the refinement and strengthening of the main study.

Conclusions: Incorporating appropriate pre-pilot work that facilitates personal training and learning into research planning has a recognised time commitment; however, this can pay dividends in terms of the insight and understanding gained for the refinement of the proposed study. Personal preparation, as well as the use of a reflexive approach, has the potential to strengthen rigour and assist research planning and data collection.

Implications for practice: Experienced researchers can return to a novice status when exposed to different data collection tools or methods. Pre-pilot work enables a greater insight to be gained as well as a deeper appreciation of the participant perspective.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages8
JournalNurse Researcher
Early online date16 Sept 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 Sept 2021


  • Pre-pilot work; empathetic research; reflexivity; participant perspectives


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