Men on the margins? Reflections on recruiting and engaging men in reproduction research




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Methodological Innovations



Peer reviewed


While social science research into reproduction is a vibrant and growing field of scholarly activity, the majority of research is conducted with women and focusses on women’s lives. Reproduction research which does focus on men tends to overlook aspects such as pre-conception desires for parenthood and planning. Scholars have argued for a greater inclusion of men in reproduction research, yet there is a paucity of methodological literature addressing how best to do so.

This paper reports methodological reflections from a qualitative study into men’s perceptions and intentions regarding the ‘right time’ to have children. It does this in reference to Critical Studies of Men and Masculinities (CSM) - which foregrounds men as gendered beings and comprises the study of the gendered nature of men’s lives - as both a theoretical position influencing study conception and design, and as an explanatory framework for enhancing understanding of the research encounter. The first part of the paper describes the CSM-informed study conceptualisation and design, specifically the decisions to include unpartnered men in the sample and to address the absence of men in reproduction research in recruitment materials. It then goes on to discuss the most effective recruitment strategy employed, recruiting through informal gatekeepers, and to consider the consequences of this. The second part of the paper presents data from the male participants pertaining to their stated motivations for participating, which relate to interest, helpfulness, and in response to perceived marginalisation, as well as their reflections on the interview encounter as enabling them to construct a narrative.

It aims to extend knowledge and understanding regarding engaging men in reproduction research and to illustrate the utility of CSM for doing so; and in doing so to advance both reproduction research as well as discussions of CSM and methodology more broadly.


Open access article



Law, C. (2018) Men on the margins? Reflections on recruiting and engaging men in reproduction research, Methodological Innovations, in press.


Research Institute

Centre for Reproduction Research (CRR)