Ethnography and Education
Taylor & Francis
School of Education
Edith Cowan University School of Education’s School Research Initiative
This article reflects on the effect of gatekeepers, guides and ghosts on gaining access to research participants and field sites. Using a critically reflective approach, we examine our role as researchers and the roles of intermediaries in the process to access schools during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our findings show how gaining access is a non-linear process that is influenced by the agency of researchers and intermediaries at different contextual levels. Our analysis probes past research on gatekeepers, develops the emerging research on the role of guides and advances current understandings by introducing the concept of ghosts. Given the lack of detailed, contextualised accounts on how researchers gain access to schools during or after a crisis, our experiences add to current understandings by providing an ‘on the ground’ account on how research can be stymied or end with mixed results when it is viewed as a difficult undertaking.
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