Say my name? Anonymity or not in elite interviewing

Christoph Houman Ellersgaard*, Kia Ditlevsen, Anton Grau Larsen

*Corresponding author

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review


This article discusses anonymizing elite interviewees. Based on our experiences with interviewing professional elites and ultra-elites in different research projects, we describe how the types of conflicts involving analysis and publication change when interviewees are not promised anonymity. We discuss how contextualizing the elite positions of anonymized interviewees becomes increasingly difficult in interviews with persons who hold prestigious positions of authority and are interviewed in their official capacity. Masking interviewees can create conflicts with regard to the researcher’s presentation of results, the transparency of the research and the ability of interviewees to talk back. We show how working with non-anonymized interviewees–and even using excerpts from interviews on public radio–can be an option in qualitative research. However, non-anonymized interviews with elites should be considered only in some instances and may seriously hamper the validity of the material in other cases.

TidsskriftInternational Journal of Social Research Methodology
Udgave nummer5
Sider (fra-til)673-686
Antal sider14
StatusUdgivet - 2022

Bibliografisk note

Important note from the publisher regarding the attached version of the article: “This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in International Journal of Social Research Methodology on 06 Jun 2021, available online:”


  • anonymity
  • Confidentiality
  • elite
  • elite interviews

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