Using data from a large primarily qualitative research project on how people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities experience and access health services, this methodological article focuses on the role of the community gatekeeper – a role that has significance for research teams globally when attempting to involve those facing multiple forms of exclusion. Drawing on standpoint feminist principles and using a reflexive approach, researcher positionality, situated knowledges, and the power dynamics between researchers, participants, and community gatekeepers are reflected upon. Addressing a gap in the literature by providing real-life examples of the power and influence of gatekeepers at all stages of the research process, the findings reveal: the extent to which gatekeepers of research with BAME participants are facilitative or obstructive during the research process; how they affect processes such as the recruitment of participants, access to community venues, the conduct of the research interview, and the dissemination of findings; and finally, the implications for future research with so called “hard-to-reach” groups.


qualitative research, gatekeepers, recruiting and researching BAME participants, power, opportunities, pitfalls

Author Bio(s)

Nadia Bashir is a research fellow at the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research (CRESR), Sheffield Hallam University. She has substantial experience in qualitative research and co-production in research and evaluation. Her expertise in various qualitative research methods facilitates the engagement of research participants from vulnerable and seldom heard groups, including young people with multiple and complex needs, isolated older people, and people from Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic backgrounds. Reflexivity, methodological issues, and ethics in research are of particular interest to Nadia and are central to her scholarly work. Please direct correspondence to Nadia.Bashir@shu.ac.uk.

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