Negotiating conflicts of interest: working with multiple stakeholders

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Purpose – The purpose of this article is to examine conflicts of interest (COI) in qualitative social research with multiple and often powerful stakeholders such as organisations and funders.
Design/methodology/approach – The article offers an explorative qualitative analysis of a selected group of Danish doctoral students’ experiences and negotiations of COI in their qualitative, multiple stakeholder research. The point of departure is that while potential and readily identifiable sources of COI, such as funding institutions, are important to disclose this may provide inadequate insight into stakeholders’ actual - and potentially undue - influence on the research during the research pro-cess. This calls for a focus on research practice. Finally, the current neoliberal policy changes affect-ing universities provide the backdrop for the study.
Findings – Focusing on negotiations around COI in practice, the analysis illuminates the complex reality of negotiating different - and sometimes conflicting - expectations and interests when con-ducting long-term qualitative studies. It also shows examples of stakeholders’ attempts to potential-ly, and unduly, influence doctoral students’ research. Finally, it suggests that stakeholders and re-searchers alike can be both powerful and potentially vulnerable when engaging in qualitative re-search.
Originality/value – The article contributes to the existing literature by explicitly focusing on COI in qualitative social research, and by exploring experiences and negotiations of COI in practice.
Original languageEnglish
JournalQualitative Research Journal
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)65-75
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jan 2021


  • Conflicts of interest
  • Research integrity
  • Research stakeholders
  • Stakeholder and researcher vulnerability
  • Doctoral students

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