This article considers lessons learned from conducting research inside the intelligence community. Drawing on a year of ethnographic field work and interviews at the National Counterterrorism Center, I show that “boundary personnel”- people who navigate between the worlds of academia and national security - provide value added in the form of tacit knowledge that outside researchers would not be able to deliver. At the same time, these people face delays, challenges to freedom of information, and ethical considerations that are unique to their positions. Despite setbacks, social scientists must continue their engagement with national security organizations to further our understanding of how these powerful institutions operate.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.
Nolan, Bridget. 2018. "Ethnographic Research in the U.S. Intelligence Community: Opportunities and Challenges." Secrecy and Society 2(1). https://doi.org/10.31979/2377-6188.2018.020105 https://scholarworks.sjsu.edu/secrecyandsociety/vol2/iss1/5