Self-awareness of dual roles when using the CIT (critical incident technique): opening Pandora's box?

Lianne Britten, William Borgen, Mark Wiggins

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The issue of conducting ethical research that considers the wider impact on the participant is not a new idea in academia. It is the constant 'elephant in the room' that exists for any researcher who works with people and this is accentuated when working with vulnerable populations. This article is written as a cautionary note and offers an ethical and moral means of conducting research in the moral quagmire of honoring people's stories, words, behaviors and thoughts. The purpose is for the researcher to note the possible impact that the telling of such stories may have not just on the storyteller, but also on the listener. It is meant to serve as one of the ways to minimize harm to participants and researchers, and maximize the potential of the widely used qualitative research tool and the CIT (critical incident technique). Following in the footsteps of the pilot study by Butterfield, Borgen, Maglio, and Amundsen (2009) regarding the impact of a qualitative research interview on participants, combined with previous post-modern analyses, it is clear that any type of research can have an impact on participants. This article positions itself as a means of advocating that a researcher working with potentially vulnerable populations should wear 'dual hats' when conducting research and, at all times, should be aware of the impact upon participants during the research process. Further, it explores the need to the potential impact first and foremost in the mind of the researcher prior to embarking upon any research with vulnerable and special populations.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)52-63
    Number of pages12
    JournalPsychology research
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2012


    • CIT (critical incident technique)
    • immigrant
    • career
    • youth
    • special populations


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