Thinking about what makes for "good" qualitative research

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Thinking about what makes for "good" qualitative research

Good research touches us. Fred Wertz (Wertz et al, 2011, p. 135) makes this point well when he talks about his phenomenological approach and says: "I experience research as a form of love in which I immerse myself in other people’s lives. In analyzing protocols, I am often surprised and as I reflect more carefully, I gain deeper understanding and feeling of intimacy with human beings. I resonate with the dark sides of existence, and I am drawn to the precious value and dignity of real persons."

The sincere, hard-fought efforts made by qualitative researchers to provide in-depth, meticulous, thoughtful, and respectfully reflexive accounts that enable dialogue, imagination and growth, is truly a matter for celebration. However, word count constraints in many journals unfortunately forces researchers to represent their research in incomplete ways resulting in bland, superficial accounts. This makes it all the more important to give voice to one’s qualitative research across several journal articles while fostering a critical (and cultural) humility about the limits of what qualitative research can offer. I agree with Sandelowski (2006) who argues it is important to foster a critical humility about our research.


References

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 

Wertz, F. J., Charmaz, K., McMullen, L. M., Josselson, R., Anderson, R., & McSpadden, E. (2011). Five ways of doing qualitative analysis: Phenomenological psychology, grounded theory, discourse analysis, narrative research, and intuitive inquiry. The Guilford Press.


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Thinking about what makes for "good" qualitative research

Good research touches us. Fred Wertz (Wertz et al, 2011, p. 135) makes this point well when he talks about his phenomenological approach and says: "I experience research as a form of love in which I immerse myself in other people’s lives. In analyzing protocols, I am often surprised and as I reflect more carefully, I gain deeper understanding and feeling of intimacy with human beings. I resonate with the dark sides of existence, and I am drawn to the precious value and dignity of real persons."

The sincere, hard-fought efforts made by qualitative researchers to provide in-depth, meticulous, thoughtful, and respectfully reflexive accounts that enable dialogue, imagination and growth, is truly a matter for celebration. However, word count constraints in many journals unfortunately forces researchers to represent their research in incomplete ways resulting in bland, superficial accounts. This makes it all the more important to give voice to one’s qualitative research across several journal articles while fostering a critical (and cultural) humility about the limits of what qualitative research can offer. I agree with Sandelowski (2006) who argues it is important to foster a critical humility about our research.


References

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 

Wertz, F. J., Charmaz, K., McMullen, L. M., Josselson, R., Anderson, R., & McSpadden, E. (2011). Five ways of doing qualitative analysis: Phenomenological psychology, grounded theory, discourse analysis, narrative research, and intuitive inquiry. The Guilford Press.


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