• methodology;
  • reflexivity;
  • sensitive subjects;
  • loyalism;
  • dissemination

This article offers a reflection upon four aspects of methodology in the context of the author's doctoral research in Northern Ireland: managing identity and research relationships, the ethics of dissemination and the reception of potentially polemic research in the academy. It argues that identity influences research in sensitive contexts in ways that are often hard to anticipate, that more inclusive approaches to dissemination can help counter issues related to research relationships, and that responses to work in controversial contexts highlight ambiguities within the academy regarding the nature and function of social science research, presenting particular challenges for early-career researchers.