Getting past the gatekeeper: Cultural competence, field access and researching gender-based violence – evidence from four countries

Paul Miller, Gillian Kirkman, Susan Timmins, Rukmini Banerjee, Anne Panicker, Kenisha Nelson, Adele Jones, Eric Ochen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Increasingly researchers are recognising the importance of including the perspectives of children and young people in research and in the development of interventions and innovations, in order to understand children's lives on their own terms. Purpose: This article reflects on the potential risks posed to children and young people in research and the role of gatekeepers in granting access and, in direct field activities, especially where the research could be deemed as ‘sensitive’. Research Design:Using a combined descriptive and autoethnographic research design, questionnaires and reflections were gathered from the field experiences of researchers in four countries (India, Jamaica, Uganda and the UK) conducting research on children's experiences of violence victimisation as part of a gender-based violence prevention project. Data was collected retrospectively and analysed thematically with the aid of QSR NVivo. Results: Based on the five themes that emerged: accessing schools; approach to access; accessing participants; lessons learnt; and advice for other researchers, the overall findings indicate that researching sensitive topics with children and young people is necessarily problematic in order to safeguard them. This is especially the case in contexts where discrimination and stigma relating to certain topics may be a significant barrier to children's participation. Conclusion: Research planning requires attention to gatekeeper power, safeguarding children and young people, and understanding how processes and attitudes concerning the status and rights of children at national and institutional levels might influence the research process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)204-217
Number of pages14
JournalPower and Education
Issue number3
Early online date4 May 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2022


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