This article explores the dilemmas I encountered when researching social work education in England as an insider researcher who was simultaneously employed as an educator in the host institution. This was an ethnographic project deploying multiple methods and generating rich case study material which informed the student textbook Becoming a Social Worker the four-year period of the project. First, ethical dilemmas emerged around informed consent and confidentiality when conducting surveys of students and reading their portfolios. Second, professional dilemmas stemmed from the ways in which my roles as a researcher, academic tutor, social worker and former practice educator converged and collided. Third, political dilemmas pertained to the potential for the project to crystallize and convey conflicts among stakeholders in the university and community. Since the majority of research in social work education is conducted by insiders, we have a vital interest in making sense of such complexity.