Qualitative research in communities of color: Challenges, strategies, and lessons

Rosalyn Denise Campbell, Mary Kate Dennis, Kristina Lopez, Rebecca Matthew, Y. Joon Choi

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    10 Scopus citations


    In its quest to improve social work practice and design interventions to reach a broader swath of its diverse clientele, the discipline of social work continues to recognize and encourage research within underserved communities of color. Researchers are increasingly turning to qualitative methods to better understand marginalized groups and the nuances of their experiences. Although there are a number of benefits to conducting qualitative research within communities of color, researchers frequently encounter challenges, which range from access to community members to getting participants to speak on topics that they and/or their communities consider to be private or taboo. Research strategies thus far have been directed at researchers who are narrowly defined as “outsiders” or have recommended including scholars of color as members of the research team. However, barriers can persist. Thus, our group of authors—four researchers of color and one white researcher with experience conducting community-based participatory research within marginalized communities where she had previous relationships—share our experiences in this paper. We highlight lessons learned and effective strategies that scholars, especially scholars of color, may use in qualitative research with marginalized and underserved communities, including communities of color.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)177-200
    Number of pages24
    JournalJournal of the Society for Social Work and Research
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Mar 1 2021


    • Cultural competence
    • Cultural studies
    • Insider/outsider
    • Methodology
    • Reflexivity

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
    • Sociology and Political Science


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