It is still not very common for a researcher to be aware that no matter what your approach to a study is, you are inevitably a tool for research. Your perceptions, your biases, your ways of thinking, all have bearing on the study you are doing. This is especially true when it comes to learning more about fellow human beings. Qualitative approaches understand this from the outset, acknowledging that a qualitative researcher’s skills, capability and quality will only grow as the researcher undertakes more research. RCA takes this realization further and puts measures in place to enable RCA researchers to grow over time while at the same time ensuring that the study is done to highest standards. Constant checks for biases, rigorous triangulation and acknowledging, first and foremost, that it is RCA researchers who would be ‘changed’ by fieldwork are only some of the reasons why RCA is not only a quality qualitative research but it is also a practice of research excellence in general. RCA researchers are constantly reminded to make people to people connections during fieldwork and reject a ‘we know better’ attitude in the field.
On a personal level, I love how I am truly a learner when I go to do RCA fieldwork. I am not some highly educated scholar applying my sophisticated complex academic framework to reality, I am a mere human being making connections with others. Often, I stumbled, felt awkward, and looked ridiculous, but I discovered that barriers are broken and ice melts when people feel it is them who have things to teach you rather than when they see you as ‘the more knowledgeable one.’ What I found through making genuine efforts to relate to people were crucial, candid and poignant insights that I would never have had the opportunity to learn if I hung on to my ‘expert’ hat. RCA studies are some of the hardest, most challenging studies I have ever experienced. But they are also the most enlightening. I really consider it an honour to call myself an RCA researcher.