The rapport building process of the researcher-participant relationships
Intense, trusting researcher participant relationship has vital importance when researchers attempt, examine, interpret the meaning of the participants’ world and produce a trustworthy report. A credible researcher participant relationship encourages participants to bring in personal ideas, disclose sensitive information, and bring reciprocity to the researcher and the research. “Throughout this process participants influence researchers, researchers influence participants, and all are intersubjectively constructing a relationship” (Pitts & Day, 2007). To facilitate a rapport building process, researchers need develop a mutual trust and respect reciprocal relationship with their participants. West (1993) argued that it is important for researchers to realize the dual roles they are functioning in the research process as they act as a social researcher and also a human interested in the participant’s lives. The dual roles may lead researcher to a precarious position like a vulnerable observer (Pitts & Days, 2007). In other words, researchers are in a precarious state in studying the participants as the subjects may or may not show interest and provide relevant information for the study. Thus, the rapport building process plays a crucial role in starting off a research.
Pitts & Day (2007) suggest that partnerships and friendships can be developed in rapport building process and help to accomplish the research objectives and goals across paradigms,. In the following I am going to explore the stages in the rapport building process.
The first stage in the rapport building of researcher-participant model is the “Other Orientation” process (Pitts & Days, 2007). This is a crucial stage as it is the weakest rapport bond developed and may successfully identify a potential participant. The researcher’s role in this stage is to gain access, consent and establish rapport to meet the research objective. Resistance, challenges may occur from participants. Subjects may show confrontational language, challenging comments and detachment in the study as one may distrust the intentions of the researcher. This stage is the most difficult part for researcher. To reduce participant’s uncertainty, researcher can show friendliness by smiling, increase in eye contact, nodding to help the participant to feel at ease, explain the research purpose, objectives and ethical responsibilities, address the participant’s needs and gain trust and credibility in the research. Participants who are unwilling to cooperate in this stage will remain in a low intimacy with the researcher and it is unlikely to proceed to the next stage. Then, the potential participant may withdraw and the researcher participant relationship may terminate in the study.
The second stage in the rapport building of researcher-participant model is the “Self in relation to other” process (Pitts & Days, 2007). Researchers and participants started to know each other and agreed a mutual goal in the research objective. In the second stage, increased eye contact, smiling were observed (Pitts & Days, 2007). Researchers diminished the professional role of a social researcher and developed interest in the participant. Both researcher and participant started to develop an awareness of the research. For example, researcher had a greater willingness to share personal information and increased the exchange and...