Ethnographic research involves prolonged and often personal interaction between the researcher and research participants. This paper is a collaboration between a social work researcher and a research participant who became acquainted through the researcher’s ethnographic fieldwork for her dissertation. Despite differing in numerous and significant ways, not the least of which are age, class, education, and race, the two women developed a quasi-friendship after the researcher exited the field–a time when many researcher-participant relationships wane or terminate entirely. The two recorded and transcribed a series of informal conversations wherein they reflected on their experiences in the research process. Of particular salience is the research participant’s perspective of the immaterial benefits she experienced through her participation in the research and her perception of the qualities of a “good” qualitative researcher: one who approaches listening as a practice and cultivates relationships with participants slowly and naturally. The authors’ reflections indicate that participants may be able to offer valuable feedback on the research experience, and researchers might use participants’ unique perspectives to alter their research approach and/or techniques.


Qualitative Research, Ethnography, Relationship Building, Reflexivity, Active Listening, Interviewing

Author Bio(s)

Charity Anderson, PhD, is a senior research associate at the Joseph C. Cornwall Center for Metropolitan Studies at Rutgers University–Newark and academic director of the Clemente Veterans’ Initiative (CVI) Newark. She holds a PhD in social work from the University of Chicago. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: charity.anderson@rutgers.edu.

Monique Henry is a graduate of the Bard College Clemente Course in the Humanities. She is a student at the Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) with plans to study nursing.

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





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