Ethnographic research characterised by immersion, reflexivity, and rapport can be unpredictable and uncontrollable, producing a wide range of emotional responses. Much of the literature on sensitive research focuses on ethical requirements and strategies for protecting participants while less attention has been given to the need for researcher protection. In this paper, we share some of the concealed and/or overlooked aspects of researcher vulnerability that are commonly disregarded or under-explored. Based on our fieldwork experiences with a vulnerable population, it considers some of the different ways doing sensitive research with people experiencing homelessness has had an impact on our research team and wider. Specifically, we analyze the emotional impact of distressing and painful research experiences on those directly and not directly involved with the collection of research data (i.e., transcribers and coders). The themes that are discussed include: i) blurring of roles in the field; ii) dealing with heart-rending life stories; and iii) handling emotionally charged experiences. By reflecting on our fieldwork experiences and emotions, we also explore the ways in which emotional impacts can be managed in practice. Strategies for emotion management that have helped us deal with the unique challenges of this research are outlined.
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