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Open Access Identity, positionality and reflexivity: relevance and application to research paramedics

This article is Open Access under the terms of the Creative Commons CC BY licence.

This article introduces the reader to the concepts of identity, positionality and reflexivity and outlines their relevance to research paramedics. We outline how a researcher’s identity and positionality can influence all aspects of research, including the research question, study design, data collection and data analysis. We discuss that the ‘insider’ position of paramedics conducting research with other paramedics or within their specific clinical setting has considerable benefits to participant access, understanding of data and dissemination, while highlighting the difficulties of role duality and power dynamics. While positionality is concerned with the researcher clearly stating their assumptions relating to the research topic, the research design, context and process, as well as the research participants; reflexivity involves the researcher questioning their assumptions and finding strategies to address these. The researcher must reflect upon the way the research is carried out and explain to the reader how they moved through the research processes to reach certain conclusions, with the aim of producing a trustworthy and honest account of the research. Throughout this article, we provide examples of how these concepts have been considered and applied by a research paramedic while conducting their PhD research studies within a pre-hospital setting, to illustrate how they can be applied practically.

Keywords: allied health personnel; clinical academic; emergency medical services; methodology; research

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: University of Leeds; North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust ORCID iD:, URL: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9854-4289 2: Manchester Metropolitan University ORCID iD:, URL: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1609-5898 3: South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust; University of Hertfordshire ORCID iD:, URL: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0796-5465

Publication date: September 1, 2022

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