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School of Applied Social Sciences

SASS Staff

Publication details for Dr Mark McCormack

McCormack, M., Adams, A. & Anderson, E. (2013). Taking to the streets: The benefits of spontaneous methodological innovation in participant recruitment. Qualitative Research 13(2): 228-241.

Author(s) from Durham


In this article, we discuss the methodological implications of a qualitative research project that examined the experiences of bisexual men living in three metropolitan cities. A detailed research proposal was approved in advance by both the funder and our university ethics review board. Once in the field however, we found our methods inadequate for recruiting the sufficient number of participants. With only a week to collect data before leaving the city, it was necessary to substantially revise how we recruited participants. We took our research to the crowded streets, shouting for participants. In order to explore the benefits of changing methods in situ, we describe the genesis of the research project and its failings and the development of a new data collection plan. The significance of this article is in the argument that it is important to maintain flexibility when conducting research: that rigidly sticking to a predetermined methodological procedure approved by funding bodies and ethical review panels can hinder the quality of data collected, and stultify the innovation of methods.