What is also apparent from my literature search is the sheer depth, range and complexity of the research task that faces therapists. Do we engage outcomes or process research? To whose voices should we listen with particular attention? Those of therapists or clients, the marginalized or stakeholders? Even as we address these questions, the challenges multiply when it comes to trying to capture the impossible complexity, ambivalence, variability, and ambiguity of therapy experiences across different cultural contexts. No methodology can hope to do justice to these questions on its own.
The earnest effort by qualitative researchers to be reflexive about the meanings and contexts of their research, with all its associated strengths and limitations, is certainly a matter for celebration even as we recognize the word count constraints journals enforce to the detriment of qualitative research. To retain methodological integrity, we need to ensure a continuing, critically reflexive, self-conscious stance and be self-aware meta-analysis about the research process (Finlay, 2002). I agree with Sandelowski (2006) on the importance of fostering critical humility – and avoiding hubristic tendencies -- regarding our own qualitative research.
In the spirit of reciprocity, perhaps quantitative researchers could be persuaded to follow suit by being more reflexive, humble and owning their scientific-ideological interests and agendas. We are joined as investigators of human experience in its infinite richness and complexity, and we have much to learn from one another.
Finlay L. (2002). “Outing” the researcher: the provenance, process, and practice of reflexivity. Qualitative Health Research, 12, 531-45.
Sandelowski, M. (2006). “Meta-jeopardy”: The crisis of representation in qualitative metasynthesis. Nursing Outlook, 54(1), 10-16. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.outlook.2005.05.004