University of Tasmania
140838 - understanding the vicarious trauma.pdf (134.93 kB)

Understanding the vicarious trauma and emotional labour of criminological research

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-20, 17:40 authored by Moran, RJ, Nicole AsquithNicole Asquith
The psychological cost of exposure to traumatic events is receiving greater recognition in recent years, especially in terms of its impact in helping professions and emergency services. However, the costs to researchers remain relatively unexplored. In this article, we will discuss the nature and impact of vicarious trauma using two criminological research projects as case studies: one a qualitative project engaging with survivors of childhood sexual abuse, and the other, a quantitative analysis of police hate crime reports. In addition to considering the trauma elicited in fieldwork such as interviews, we interrogate the costs imposed on researchers during the coding and analysing processes. We suggest that the cost is potentially greater when the researcher has a personal connection with the issues being researched, but that this personal experience also provides the researcher with important skills for responding to new or compounded trauma. The costs of engagement with trauma may be compensated by the productive outputs and impact on policy and practice that this type of research may elicit. Understanding the impact and costs of engaging with close analyses of trauma is critical in developing more robust and ethical research processes to ensure that this trauma is appropriately managed so as to avert the long-term damage this work can inflict on researchers and participants.


Publication title

Methodological Innovations






School of Social Sciences


Sage Publications Ltd.

Place of publication

United Kingdom

Rights statement

Copyright 2020 The Authors. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0)

Repository Status

  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives

Mental health; Ability and disability

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