Oral History: The insider becomes an outsider

Document Type

Conference Proceeding


Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences


Kurongkurl Katitjin




Rabbitt, E. (2003). Oral History: The insider becomes an outsider. In Defining the Doctorate: Australian Association for Research in Education Conference Proceedings.


The focus of this paper is the use of oral history as an alternative medium for gathering data for a doctoral study. It will investigate the advantages and disadvantages of taking such an approach, where the researcher becomes privy to 'insider' information but remains an 'outsider' in an attempt to maintain academic distance. Defining the parameters of the research, the ethical considerations of how the information will be gathered and used is involved in any project. These complexities are further intensified when writing a doctorate as a distance education student in a small community. The community member as a researcher has their own 'insider' perspective, with prior knowledge of the lives of others through established relationships. This allows for the collection of 'privileged' information, based on trust and rapport. The participants' narratives become the data and subsequent framework of the thesis. Questions arise as to how much data needs to be collected and how many participants need to be involved. How does the researcher maintain 'insider' community status and 'outsider' academic status? What are the social and cultural implications?

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