University of Hertfordshire

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By the same authors

Recruiting young people to sensitive research: turning the ‘wheels within wheels’

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)485-497
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Social Research Methodology
Early online date26 Jul 2016
Publication statusPublished - 3 Sep 2017


This article contributes to a growing literature that takes a more nuanced approach to exploring the complexities of relationships and negotiations with gatekeepers. Using our study of young people living with a parent at the end of life as a ‘critical case’ of sensitive qualitative research, we discuss how far from being a smooth, linear process, participant recruitment was experienced as a series of overlapping challenges, characterised here as ‘wheels within wheels’. Each component of this multi-faceted process relied on identifying and engaging with key practitioners who acted as gatekeepers. We discuss how researcher and gatekeeper positionality influenced the outcome of negotiations with gatekeepers, and highlight potential implications for young people in exigent sets of circumstances. If the routes ‘in’ to access young people are difficult, then this also raises questions about routes ‘out’ for young people and their access to support when living through challenging times.


This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in International Journal of Social Research Methodology on 26 July 2016, available online at

ID: 11347752