Publication Details

This article was originally published as Irvine, HJ and Gaffikin, M, Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, 19(1), 2006, 115-145. Copyright Emerald. Original journal available here.


Purpose. This paper seeks to provide a behind-the-scenes view of how a qualitative research project was conducted. It is therefore a paper about the process of qualitative research from the point of view of a researcher, rather than a qualitative research paper about an organization. Design/methodology/approach. Its approach is both theoretical and reflective rather than being a description or analysis of what went on in the organization. Findings. Because the focus of the paper is personal rather than organizational, it does not offer “findings” about the way in which accounting is practised, but rather reflections and insights about the way research was conducted, from getting into the organization (getting in), conducting the research (getting on) and finally exiting the organization (getting out). Research limitations/implications. Even though this paper represents the reflections of one researcher conducting a qualitative study (and another coaching from the sidelines) in one unique organization, the experiences shared emphasize the need for flexibility, reflection and reflexivity in any qualitative research project. Practical implications. The intention of the authors is that this paper should be informative, but they do not view it as a manual of practice. It is hoped that it may help to prepare new researchers for what they may face as they conduct a qualitative research project, while at the same time providing resonances for experienced researchers. Originality/value. While much qualitative research has been undertaken within the discipline of accounting, little or no attention has been paid to the way in which that research has been conducted. This paper addresses that gap, in the hope that it will enlighten both experienced and new qualitative researchers.



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