Should I stay or should I go? Reflecting about experienced methodological issues

Camille Claeys, Els Dumortier, Sofie De Kimpe

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This paper derives from the fieldwork experiences of a female PhD student, doing ethnographic research in the field of police interrogations of juvenile suspects, and her discussions with her supervisors[1]. As there has only been a small-scale empirical research in Belgium on how police interrogates juvenile offenders in daily practice, the researcher and her promoters want to discover through ethnography (more specifically observations and complementary interviews with the police interrogators) how the interrogations are conducted.
After her first steps into the field (a Belgian Police Youth Unit) and drawing on her first empirical data, the researcher and her supervisors reflect on the approach the researcher used to access the field and on her personal 'baggage'. They also reflect about several methodological issues such as: the role as an observer and avoiding over-identification. As reflecting about these issues (arising from both the research aims and the research context) affects the way we approach our research and interpret our data - and because reflection about this topic is sometimes overlooked in literature - the researcher and her supervisors believe this reflection is significant from a theoretical as well as a practical point of view. Methods are a crucial part of the scientific enterprise and reflexivity offers an opportunity to discuss and overthink them. Consequently, this paper underlines the relevance of reflecting about methodology and is intended as a contribution to the discussions about qualitative research methods in a police setting.

[1] In Belgium, we use the term 'promotor'.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCriminology, Security and Justice. Methodological and epistemological issues
EditorsC. de Agra, C. Cardoso, J. de Maillard, C. O'Reily, P. Ponsaers, J. Shapland
ISBN (Print)9789046607787
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Publication series

NameGERN Research Paper Series


  • methodological issues
  • ethnographic research
  • police


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