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Challenges and Opportunities of Conducting Exploratory Qualitative Research on Politically Sensitive Topics: Understanding the Politics of Natural Resource Governance in Zimbabwe

By: Published: 2019 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Cases Part 2
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This case study provides reflections on the use of an exploratory qualitative approach to study the politics of natural resource governance in Zimbabwe, a politically sensitive area at the time of my research. When utilizing qualitative data collection methods, one can encounter both challenges and opportunities. Based on my own experience, things can and do go wrong, such as my failing to record all aspects of the research process and documentary sources. Opportunities include making use of gatekeepers who have extensive knowledge of the research topic and/or targeted areas and have established networks with the key informants. In addition, when researching emerging issues with few existing studies, it is important for the researcher to be flexible to take advantage of the opportunities that may arise during data collection.

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