Social science methods literature identifies gaining access as one of the main challenges of conducting elite interview research. However, the existing literature mostly fails to provide access strategies other than the “textbook” methods of sending email, letters, faxes, or making phone calls. Many researchers, especially the ones who conduct purposive sampling-based in elite interview research encounter various obstacles when they try to gain access to the potential interviewees. Especially in challenging research environments, textbook methods either fail the researchers using purposive sampling or considerably increase the time and energy spent to gain access to elite respondents. Drawing on the author’s own purposive sampling-based research in the Middle East, this article proposes an alternative access strategy adapted from journalism, using interviewees as “fixers.” This free-of-charge strategy not only shortens access time and decreases non-commitment of the potential elite interviewees, but also lends the researcher a partial insider status in the studied elite circle, and thus potentially enhances the quality of interviews.


Elite Interviews, Interviewing Methodologies, Ethnographic Research, Purposive Sampling, Middle East

Author Bio(s)

Esra Bakkalbasioglu is an advanced Ph.D. Candidate in the Interdisciplinary Near and Middle Eastern Studies Program at the University of Washington. The focus of her work is comparative research, infrastructure studies, access to resources, and Middle Eastern studies. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: esrab@uw.edu.


The author would like to thank the anonymous referees, Robert Pekkanen, Joel Migdal, Reşat Kasaba, and Semih Energin, for invaluable feedback.

Publication Date


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.





To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.