The collaborative research relationship is a diffuse ideal amongst geographers conducting qualitative research with other organisations. The language of working ‘with’ other organisations is widely used in academic publishing and presentations and is being increasingly institutionalised through research funding protocols, university procedures and postgraduate training. Whilst there has been much debate over the nature of the research relationship and power in the encounter, these have tended to focus on relationships between individuals or with marginalised communities. This paper explores a research relationship between a researcher and a municipal network in India to discuss the dynamics of collaborating in ‘the field’. I argue that this language of working ‘with’ others often hides a more complex research relationship and in some cases (such as the one I discuss) the power of the ‘researched’ organisation to shape the relationship away from the ideal of collaboration is not fully recognised, nor the potential clash in epistemology. I go on to suggest that in some instances this diffuse ideal may have permeated the discipline too far and geographers need to more critically assess the limitations of such a research relationship. Whilst the ideal of collaborating is an important one in certain instances, in others relationships built on different parameters may allow for more critical research.


Fisher, S. December 2011. Knock, knock, knocking on closed doors: exploring the diffuse ideal of the collaborative research relationship. Area, v.43, pp.456-462.

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