From a distance: researching across jurisdictions in the UK

Anne Pirrie, Gale Macleod

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This paper explores the challenges of negotiating access to research participants at a
distance. These challenges are explored in the context of a study of destinations and
outcomes for 24 young people permanently excluded from special schools and Pupil
Referral Units (PRUs) in England. The authors describe the process of negotiating
access through a third party to young people considered to be particularly vulnerable,
from whom written opt-in consent was negotiated through an intermediary. This process
necessitated establishing trust with a wide range of service providers, usually over the
telephone. Moreover, these service providers were gatekeepers and informants to the
research. They were located at different points in a variety of professional hierarchies
with different accountability structures. There was considerable variation in the extent to
which the individuals themselves were prepared to exercise trust, defined here as both
cognitive and behavioural. The responses of these individuals were contingent and
unpredictable. The research team negotiated this uncertain territory as insiders with
knowledge and experience of alternative provision, and as outsiders by virtue of their
location in another jurisdiction of the UK.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)60-70
Number of pages10
JournalScottish Educational Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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