Engaging with narrative inquiry research methods, such as indepth interviews, can provide researchers with valuable qualitative data. However, the processes involved with conducting in-depth interviews can often be problematic. This paper examines the barriers in the way of conducting research into criminal justice organisations within New South Wales (Australia) and in the Thames Valley (United Kingdom). It presents the personal experiences of the researcher in trying to gain access to organisations such as the police, judiciary, corrective services and forensic science services. Such organisations are often considered to be ʻclosed organisationsʼ because they are resistant to externally-based research. The paper also examines the practical difficulties of interviewing criminal justice practitioners even where official permission to conduct research has been granted. Some of the problems that were faced included fear and suspicion about what the research was examining and fear of reprisal from senior colleagues about what was said to the researcher. This fear led to some participants declining to answer certain questions, or when they did answer, using the ʻofficial organisation lineʼ.
Recommended CitationWise, Jenny, Commentary: Getting behind closed doors: The process of conducting research in a criminal justice setting, Current Narratives, 2, 2010, 129-140.