As a qualitative researcher most of my work involves speaking to people, asking them about their experiences, trying to understand what matters to them and then using this information to address the research questions that I have. Research participants are therefore central to such work, without them there would be no data, no new information and we would struggle to keep moving forwards with interpretations and understandings. Others have written about why people get involved in research and identify that a personal interest can be driving factor or people can seek or hope that research will bring about change or that they will be represented in some ways. It’s important that as researchers we think about the motivations of people participating in the research we do, but it’s also really important that we think about our appreciation of them doing so to.
From doing my PhD research, where I condcuted what were often long oral history interviews, I quickly learnt that research participants are often exceedingly generous to researchers, giving up time, offering hospitality and allowing you into personal aspects of their lives. This sense has only continued as I have moved into doing applied health research where I am often asking people about intimate or emotive topics. The generosity of research participants must be acknowledged, not just between the researcher and participant but more publically. So this post is a thank you to everyone who engages with and gives generously to enable our research to occur. Thank you for giving your time, for speaking up and for being willing to be open and invested in the idea that research can and should be a potential mechanism for change.