it is not surprising that insider research — where the researcher has a direct involvement or connection with the research setting (Robson 2002) — has been the cause of much debate and scrutiny. Questions that frequently arise include: What effect does the researcher's insider status have on the research process? Is the validity of the research compromised? Can a researcher maintain objectivity? Is objectivity necessary for validity?

This paper aims to cast light upon these problematic and complex issues. While it is recognized that insider researchers, and the issues that surround them, are also the subject of debate in quantitative research, this paper focuses primarily on qualitative research. It is not the aim of this paper to provide definitive answers — indeed, many would argue that this is an impossible task. Instead this paper aims to raise awareness of the issues involved when considering the validity of qualitative research, particularly when the researcher is an insider to this process.