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Collaborative autoethnography: “self-reflection” as a timely alternative research approach during the global pandemic

Rituparna Roy (School of Social Sciences and Public Policy, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand) (School of Social Sciences, The University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand)
Shinya Uekusa (School of Culture and Society, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark)

Qualitative Research Journal

ISSN: 1443-9883

Article publication date: 2 July 2020

Issue publication date: 13 October 2020




The authors’ aim in this commentary is to critically assess the potential benefits and limitations of collaborative autoethnography (CAE) as a research tool to be used by qualitative researchers during this unprecedented, methodologically challenging time when physical isolation and distancing are the best strategies to prevent spread of the virus.


The authors probe into the potential of collaborative reflection on self-narrative as an alternative and perhaps timely research approach.


The COVID-19 pandemic has altered our experiences of conventional teaching, learning and research. It is a scholarly challenging time, particularly for qualitative researchers in the social sciences whose research involves data collection methods that require face-to-face human interactions. Due to the worldwide lockdowns, self-isolation and social distancing, qualitative researchers are encountering methodological difficulties in continuing with their empirical fieldwork. In such circumstances, researchers are exploring alternative methodological approaches, taking advantage of telecommunication and digital tools for remote data collection. However, the authors argue that qualitative researchers should consider utilizing self-narratives of their experiences during the pandemic as a rich source of qualitative data for further delving into the socioeconomic, political and cultural impacts of the pandemic.


The authors’ focus might be secondary in the minds of many social scientists who are directly contributing to our understanding of how the pandemic has upended communities. However, despite some limitations and ethical concerns, we urge qualitative researchers to embrace the potentials of CAE to study society, especially, but not only, in this unprecedented time.



The authors would like to thank the two anonymous reviewers, the journal editorial team, and the guest editor, Dr. Lorraine Ling for their time to review this paper and provide valuable comments and constructive feedback. The authors would also like to acknowledge Mr. Luke Duane Oldfield for his helpful comments and suggestions.Declaration of interest: The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest.


Roy, R. and Uekusa, S. (2020), "Collaborative autoethnography: “self-reflection” as a timely alternative research approach during the global pandemic", Qualitative Research Journal, Vol. 20 No. 4, pp. 383-392.



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