[New article] Conducting hidden populations research: A reflective case study on researching the biohacking community

 

Futures studies are important for long-term decision making in critical social sectors such as healthcare and crime prevention. Our researchers Mariam Elgabry and Jonathan Camilleri have published a new paper on the challenges that researchers may encounter in these fields and how to address them.

You can check out this paper, published in the Futures Journal, by clicking here.

Paper abstract: Futures studies aim to capture emerging social phenomena and to aid long-term decision making, important in critical social sectors such as healthcare and crime prevention. Despite a growing interest, research on emerging social groups or hidden populations, and the development of rigorous research products continue to be challenging due to the logistical difficulty in collecting accurate information about group dynamics. Early-career researchers embarking on hidden populations research may experience a steep learning curve when in the process of collecting data or conducting fieldwork. Here, we reflect on this learning process and on the challenges which researchers may encounter. Using the first author’s own research on the biohacking community as a case study, we parallel our reflections in terms of Gartner’s Hype Cycle, a methodology used by businesses to represent the maturity of new products. We discuss overcoming challenges, such as gaining trust and establishing rapport with participants, while navigating the demands of institutional ethics requirements, placing the researcher in a better position to conduct further research. We aim to offer practical and relatable insight for readers conducting their own research, to encourage them as they approach hidden communities and plan their investigations.