Publications and Research

Document Type


Publication Date



Failed research can function as the underbelly of all qualitative research projects that come to fruition. These shadow projects offer invaluable insights to future research and researchers alike. In this article, I trace a failed life history of sex offenders project from its conceptualization to its abandonment, after conducting a series of searches on the online National Sex Offender Registry database. Through the use of preliminary field notes and an analysis of media representations, I examine the role of bracketing of the topic, as a by-product of the phenomenological tradition, and other methodological issues such as physical and emotional vulnerability as a lone researcher, preconceptions harbored about “challenging” populations, and how a research setting can contribute to failed research.


This article was originally published in International Journal of Qualitative Methods Volume 18: 1–10, available at doi:10.1177/1609406919842450.

The article is distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial (CC-BY-NC 4.0) License.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.