The author turns attention to research areas where researchers have limited access to such as prisons. Both the inmates as well as the wardens display equal reluctance to be studied. In principle, the article deals only with the methodological aspects of the problem - the applicability of various research methods in studying prisons. Though the author focuses particularly on the participant observation technique he has chosen, he discusses and evaluates other methods and makes his own recommendations. He avoids detailed description of norms, stratifications or communication methods typical for the prison subculture or their current alterations. This last aspect is addressed through the comparison of research methods used before and after 1989.