Researcher linguistic vulnerability: A note on methodological implications


Publication date


Series/Report no

Qualitative Health Research;2015


Sage Publications

Document type


We reflect on the experiences of a researcher conducting a pilot exercise project with marginalized research participants within the substance use disorder treatment field, in a language that was nonnative to her. While the project collected and analyzed quantitative data, the researcher was motivated by qualitative inquiry’s commitment to reducing participant–researcher distance and power differences. Despite multiple sources of power imbalances favoring the researcher, the ability of participants to speak their native language to a nonnative researcher, and the researcher’s active recognition of her linguistic vulnerability, appeared to afford them an unexpected source of power within the context of the project. We discuss the researcher’s observations of these power dynamics and their implications for cross-cultural research and when working with marginalized research participants


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