A Report on My Reflections of Insider and Outsider Position during Fieldwork in Malaysia

Teresa Wai See Ong


The position of a researcher as both insider and outsider has been recognised as a fundamental issue in qualitative research because the credibility of research depends on the researcher’s ability to reflect on and to be transparent about the methodological issues faced. Based on my fieldwork experience in Malaysia, this report provides an account of my reflections as an insider and outsider in the field. I discuss four issues using stories from my fieldwork: (1) field and home, (2) the “space of betweenness” when engaging with participants, (3) the interactions between participants and me during interviews, and (4) the drawbacks as an insider. These issues may impact on my interpretation of the findings and thus, I argue that it is important that a researcher exhibits a high degree of ethics and transparency regarding their position during fieldwork.

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