Best Practices for Qualitative Research on Sensitive Topics

Qualitative researchers require training in identification, ethics, and empathy when studying, processing, and disseminating research on sensitive topics. Through this interactive workshop, participants will take away five key skills to direct their research plans, protocols, and responses during fieldwork.

July 18, 2022, 11:00am Eastern Time – September 8, 2022, 2:30pm Eastern Time

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Kathleen O'ReillyKathleen O’Reilly, Texas A&M University

After 25 years of experience working with vulnerable populations (e.g., lowest caste groups) on sensitive topics (e.g., open defecation) in a foreign language (e.g., Hindi), Dr. Kathleen O’Reilly can assist graduate students in preparing for a career asking difficult questions and listening to the answers. She has learned over the course of harrowing encounters, vengeful gatekeepers, and moments of grace a thing or two about best practices and the finer points of ethics, legal considerations, and plain old how-do-I-live-with-herself after encountering sensitive information in the field.

Eligibility and capacity

We will select up to 20 graduate students to participate in this workshop. Selection will be based on your AAG membership status, your research needs, and time of registration. If you are selected, we will notify you ahead of the workshop and provide you all the workshop details and session links. If you are selected, the expectation is that you will participate in all sessions of the workshop.


This workshop is open to graduate students who are preparing for qualitative fieldwork either pre- or post-proposal defense and planning to work on sensitive topics or concerned that they will encounter them in the field.

Detailed schedule

This workshop will meet at the following times (Eastern Time):

  • Session 1: AAG Welcome Session, 11:00am – 12:30pm, Monday, July 18
  • Session 2: 1:00 – 2:20pm, Tuesday, July 19
  • Session 3: 1:00 – 2:30pm, Wednesday, July 20
  • Session 4: 1:00 – 2:00pm, Thursday, July 21
  • Session 5: 1:00 – 2:20pm, Friday, July 22

Throughout the week, expect to also spend a few hours working independently on readings or short assignments for the workshop.