Thursday, 31 May 2012

Divorce Your Supervisor?

Here is a very important topic....what to do when your supervisor sucks..check this post on a great blog called The Thesis Whisperer

Excerpt....The relationship had broken down spectacularly, there was no communication, and I sat in tears not knowing how I could get myself out of this. However, I managed to recover and submit my thesis, thankfully, and am now the proud owner of a doctorate, but I understand how isolating it is being in that position and feeling there is no way to turn. This can lead many people, more than you would initially think, to quit. However, there is much that can be done to resolve the situation should you wish for an academic divorce and allow you to finish and submit your thesis. Therefore I offer you some advice based on my own experience.

Heres some funny slides on manageing your Phd supervisor

Here is my list of the top ten things that should make you question if your supervisor is really right

1. Always being critical no matter what happens
2. Never answers emails
3. Forgets to show up for meetings
4. Doesn't know the methods your using
5. Looks like they are faking it
6. Doesn't read stuff you send
7. Isn't tough with you when you f..k up
8. Too closely aligned with you and tries to be friends
9. Looks down your top
10. Falls asleep during supervision

got any.....(soon ill post the top ten reasons to divorce your student)

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Taking the Tabula Rasa Out of Grounded Theory

Grounded theory is probably the most commonly used method for analysis in qual research but it is based on the assumption that the researcher really can get out of the way, analyse the data clearly, as a theory emerges from the ashes..there are obvious problems here of bias, ones that can are not adequately catered for simply by memoing (bracketing) your own biases throughout the coding process

I highly reccommend this article if you have grounded theory in mind...
 Adele Clarke (2005). Situational Analysis—Grounded Theory After the Postmodern Turn. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage xli + 363 pages, ISBN: 0-7619-3056-6, $ 87,70

She recommends using a series of maps to be more transparent about all the myriad of influences around you

In Situational Maps all actors (individual or collective) and actants (elements, bodies, discourses) are mapped and then their relationships to each other analysed.
Social worlds/arenas maps keep hold of different "universes of discourse" (as defined by STRAUSS in 1978), i.e., they map collectives and "sites of action" 
Positional Maps are designed to grasp the sites of the stated and, more importantly, the non-stated positions taken in the field. [11]

Great review of her paper LINK

Making a Mess with Situational Analysis?
Tom Mathar
Review Essay:
Adele Clarke (2005). Situational Analysis—Grounded Theory After the Postmodern Turn. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage xli + 363 pages, ISBN: 0-7619-3056-6, $ 87,70
Abstract: Adele CLARKE, a student of grounded theory co-founder Anselm STRAUSS, uses situational analysis to develop both a methodology and a method which is able to represent the field's messiness, i.e., its heterogeneous and complex character. Grounded theory, CLARKE's starting point, is stuck in a modernist world-view, particularly by looking too much for a pure and oversimplified "basic social process". In order to make grounded theory post-modern, CLARKE considers discourses that are beyond pragmatism, e.g., those initiated by FOUCAULT, LATOUR, HARAWAY. This review essay argues that even though there remain some uncertainties in engaging in this epistemological hybrid, situational analysis provides a very good instrument for researchers to come into their material more deeply and, therefore, is a convincing tool for practice-oriented social science working with qualitative methods.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Loopy Lou's Breast Cancer Research Update

Here is a lovely post by a QRIP member, known online as Loopy Lou, outlining her research on breast cancer using grounded theory!

A quick blurb on my research!!  I am exploring the ways in which women which are at high risk of, but have never been personally affected with, breast cancer adapt to this knowledge of being at increased risk. I am keen to understand the ways in which they manage the uncertainty inherent in risk and the things they think and do to manage any distress they experience in relation to coming from a high-risk family.

I am using Grounded Theory as a methodology, because there are existing theories and plenty of studies on women at increased risk who undergo genetic testing and few studies of the women at increased risk who remain ineligible for testing. I hope that the findings will guide the development of resources and possibly supportive interventions that will be applicable to all women at increased risk, regardless of whether they are eligible for testing or not.

I am finding the research process challenging, as I expected it to be, yet enjoyable and creative in ways that quantitative research is lacking. Obviously quantitative research is essential and very useful, but for a topic like mine, simple measures of distress lack comprehensiveness and existing measures of adaptation quantify it as an outcome, leaving the process behind. If we are to identify stages in the process where intervention is crucial and strategies to be incorporated into those interventions, then qualitative inquiry is the only way.

Today I have realised that my ‘superficial’ open codes are not a complete waste. As I go back through the transcripts to see which codes clump together and reassess the data for meaning, the transition from superficial codes to meaning (question: is this the category, or is the category an additional step between here and the higher order themes?) to overarching themes emerges as a logical sequence. The superficial codes are going to provide transparency of the coding process so that I can justify my findings. Currently, the coding structure is still in its infancy but I get the feeling my three main themes will remain mostly unchanged. I can see the overlap where some of the meanings are relevant for more than one main theme, but with more data I imagine the structure of the codes will tighten up and my theory of how women adapt to knowledge of increased risk will emerge with refined clarity. This is where I’m currently up to, so after I have made a little more headway Ill post again!

Narrative Inquiry Lecture PowerPoint

If your interested in Narrative Inquiry here are the powerpoints for a lecture I am giving next Monday for QUALITATIVE HEALTH RESEARCH Sydney School of Public Health with PhD candidate Lisa Dawson

Are You a Micro-Celebrity?

Found this great qualitative manuscript (grounded theory) online about Facebook users, of which i am prolific, but relevant for bloggers too!!!

What better place to be your absolute funniest, most attractive, interesting and appealing
self than a Facebook profile? Social networking websites (SNWs) have opened the doors of
communication, allowing people from around the world to engage in identity creations and
relationship development. As the leading SNW, Facebook boasts over 400 million active users,
engaging in the Website on a daily basis to facilitate an ongoing dialogue of their identity and
generating influence amongst their networks. Facebook users employ a number of features
including notes (blog), games, chat, joining fan pages, starting groups, posting statuses, and
writing on other’s walls. Through these experiences, users develop their self-concept and 
affiliative identities to create their image, and to produce their own spotlight through a microcelebrity experience on Facebook. This study extends prior research of computer-mediated
environments (personal Websites) to develop theory of how people contemporarily define
themselves in their social online space. The Facebook user celebrity experience is brought about
through connected networks/fan base, a highly regarded image, and associations that are
developed throughout this analysis


Monday, 28 May 2012

Politics? Should We Play the Game or Resist

I've been thinking alot about what we should do when we butt our heads up against the ugly politics of evidence in our relationships with out more quantitative colleagues...do we resist, rebel, become indignant or bend over backwards but get the job done....my view is that there has to be a middle ground, one based, in the first place on a healthy respect for both the value of empirical research but also on a healthy respect for our own epistomology....both of us are right so let the fun begin? We need to avoid the unecessary polarising of our positions

The problem comes, of course, when only one party is playing generously....it may be that we are that party, taking a holier than thou position, or that the hardcore scientists are demeaning qualitative research....my experience is that both can occur pretty much equally and that playing the victim never helped anyone...

What's been your experience? Am i naive?

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Slammed by Reviewers?

Got completely slammed yesterday by reviewers of a Participatory Action study I sent for consideration...it represents three years hard work by a large team of 10 people in disability services..smashed!!!! Why are they so bloody rude...

Responding seems to involve the following:

1. Shock and disbelief
2. Distress
3. Anger
4. Read again
5. Self-flagellation
6. Gradual normalisation
7. Recognition that they may have a point
8. Determination to make changes
9. Look on the net for the journal with the next highest Impact factor
10. Start again

Lots of interesting issues raised though and once I got through the emotions i could see this much more clearly....not enough clarity in terms of participant demographics, too many quotes and not enough analysis and modelling, didnt account for the British audience enough, one straw man argument in the discussion which never goes down well...time to go through it again and make it better for the next journal down the rung..

Found this beauty of the web about publishing..ancient but still massively relevant

How to Win Acceptances by Psychology Journals: 21 Tips for Better Writing

R. J. Sternberg Yale University

The following article appeared in the Sept. 1993 APS OBSERVER newsletter, a publication of the American Psychological Society. Copyright 1993, all rights reserved.

What You Say

1. Start strong. Smith and Jones (1986) found that 83% of readers never got beyond the first paragraph of the majority of articles they began to read. This opening is an example of how to be boring, as are these: Past research shows..., or It is interesting to note that...(says who?). A strong start asks a question or states a problem pertinent to the theme of your article: Why are so many psychology articles safe and cheap substitutes for sleeping pills?, for example, or Dullness blunts the impact of many potentially interesting articles. Tell readers what the article is about in a provocative way that catches their attention.

2. Tell readers why they should be interested. These findings are interesting and important. Therefore, you should support my promotion to tenure. Don't expect readers to know why you find a topic interesting or why they should find it interesting. Show them! Keep your audience in mind: The more you can relate your topic to concerns of your reader, the more interest you will generate. If you are writing for perceptual psychologists, make contact with the theoretical issues that concern people in this field. If you are writing for teachers, show how your findings can be used to improve teaching.

3. Make sure the article does what it says it will do. In this article, I will characterize the meaning of life, solve the problem of world hunger, and reveal at long last Richard Nixon's secret plan to end the Vietnam War. Many articles are declined by journals because they do not deliver what they promise. They claim much, but deliver little. For example, experiments should follow from the theory you present. Make sure you frame your article in terms of what you have really accomplished, not in terms of what you wished you had accomplished.

4. Make sure the literature review is focused, reasonably complete, and balanced. Thus, both studies showed that high levels of reasoning performance require people to wear propeller beanies on their heads. Other studies, showing that high levels of reasoning performance require pocket protectors, are irrelevant. Reviewers are infuriated by literature reviews that are biased in favor of a single point of view, especially if it's not their own (and chances are good that at least some of the reviewers will have different views from your own). Reviewers are even more upset when their own work is clearly relevant but not cited (can you say, Sayonara to acceptance?). And reviewers do not want to read about every marginally relevant study ever done. Make your review complete and current, but also keep it focused and concise, so that it encompasses but does not overwhelm what you are studying.

5. Always explain what your results mean don't leave it to the reader to decipher. ... 

see here for the other 15 points

The Benefits of Collaborative Coding

We just had a great collaborative coding session in our fortnightly meeting, a process that I highly recommend..basically it involves coding in a group, all have a transcript, the researcher reads chunks and the group discuss coding and try to reach consensus

We looked at a transcript from a study about how women adapt to breast cancer risk.

Its ideal if there is some different perspectives in the group, even people from outside Psychology, who can offer alternatives and contribute towards a real debate..today we had lots of debate, particularly wrestling with codes that could be seen as reading too much into the data and those that might have seen denial of risk as pathology rather than self-protection

You'd be surprised how this can add richness to your analysis, spark new ideas, reveal your biases, develop hypotheses for future interviews and more..

It is also , of course, another form of triangulation, adding trustworthiness and supporting a host of measures you might include in your study for this purpose

Monday, 21 May 2012

Free Consultation Available

Wow! Im massively impressed by all you qual researchers out there looking through the site...I have a lovely widget that enables me to see all the countries that you come from and the many ways you end up finding me through your searches...so far a few thousand new readers and one added every 20 minutes or so....

I am really keen to get some feedback from you about what you are finding useful? What kind of work you are doing? Any contributions or queries?

Why not send me a query about method choice/options design, coding, analysis, interviewing...Id be very keen to provide a free consultation!! and of course put your question out there for others to help with..send me your query (email) and ill give you some free advice and then make a post out of it for others to comment too...p.rhodes@sydney.edu.au

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Gotta Number Fetish?

Whether it's ethics committees, research supervisors, grant funders or journals you'll always find someone with a number fetish...forget saturation, they'll be more impressed with your study if it simply has more participants?

Have you had this experience? Feel the pressure to put 40 people into your narrative inquiry study? (by the way that would take about three years to analyse)

Numbers are not the key to quality qualitative research simply because generalisability is not the aim...qual research sacrifices generalisability for depth of meaning, you learn important things from local phenomenon rather than going for representativeness...

The key to determining how many participants to have is based on saturation in many instances...

Volume 11, No. 3, Art. 8 – September 2010 Forum:Social Qualitative Research
Sample Size and Saturation in PhD Studies Using Qualitative Interviews
Mark Mason
Abstract: A number of issues can affect sample size in qualitative research; however, the guiding principle should be the concept of saturation. This has been explored in detail by a number of authors but is still hotly debated, and some say little understood. A sample of PhD studies using qualitative approaches, and qualitative interviews as the method of data collection was taken from theses.com and contents analysed for their sample sizes. Five hundred and sixty studies were identified that fitted the inclusion criteria. Results showed that the mean sample size was 31; however, the distribution was non-random, with a statistically significant proportion of studies, presenting sample sizes that were multiples of ten. These results are discussed in relation to saturation. They suggest a pre-meditated approach that is not wholly congruent with the principles of qualitative research.
Key wordssaturation; sample size; interviews
..........but saturation isnt always the key....you may do a study that aims to sample a rare group of people, for example...this sampling is called Deviant Case or Extreme Sampling...you may also be working with a finite group of people as in Participatory Action Research...you may have only one case, as in autoethnography...

Friday, 18 May 2012

Oldy But Goody: The Lancet Knights Qualitative Research

Stumbled on this today, over a decade old but an article in the Lancet about qualitative research....woooohooooo! We are now officially real!

The Lancet, Volume 358, Issue 9280, Pages 483 - 488, 11 August 2001
Qualitative research: standards, challenges, and guidelines Kirsti Malterud 

Qualitative research methods could help us to improve our understanding of medicine. Rather than thinking of qualitative and quantitative strategies as incompatible, they should be seen as complementary. Although procedures for textual interpretation differ from those of statistical analysis, because of the different type of data used and questions to be answered, the underlying principles are much the same. In this article I propose relevance, validity, and reflexivity as overall standards for qualitative inquiry. I will discuss the specific challenges in relation to reflexivity, transferability, and shared assumptions of interpretation, which are met by medical researchers who do this type of research, and I will propose guidelines for qualitative inquiry.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

It Takes 2toTango: Deconstructing Clients Problems as Therapist-Client Problems?

I'm trying to come up with some research ideas at the moment that focus on deconstructing the way that novice therapists think about their clients problems in a way that reveals them as dyadic process relating more to the therapeutic alliance....ie: when a therapist is pathologising the client it maybe more about a rupture or misunderstanding between the two...

Here are some thought bubbles

When the term resistance comes up in the therapists mind.
When the terms narcissism or BPD first come up in the therapists mind
When new techniques are sought or a new model of therapy is being contemplated

I have turned to Ian Parker for abit of inspiration..his paper Constructing and deconstructing psychotherapeutic discourse (1998) is a classic (here) although may be a bit rich for my current work setting?

This  paper  reviews recent  work  on  the  social  construction  of  the  self  in 
counselling and psychotherapy, and argues that we need to attend to the ways 
in which the therapeutic self is fashioned ( a )  in relation to the ‘psy-complex’ 
as  the  network  of  theories and practices concerned with  psychological 
governance and  self-reflection  in modern Western culture and  ( b )  in  the 
context of ‘therapeutic domains’ outside the clinic and academe, domains of 
discursive regulation and self-expression which then bear upon the activities 
of  professional and lay counsellors. Therapeutic domains contain repertoires, 
templates and  complexes  within which counsellors and clients fabricate 
varieties of  truth  and story a  core of  experience into being. I  then  turn  to 
describe and  assess some of  the  various ways  in which this  kind  of  critical 
reflection  o n   therapeutic  discourse  and counselling practice  now  already 
underpins  the  work  of  social  constructionist ‘narrative’ therapists. Some 
attention  is  given  to the  different  pragmatic  and deconstructionist 
approaches  which make  the  discursive  constitution  of  the  problem  into 
the problem, either by  dissolving or by  externalizing the account the client 
presents. Here I  argue that the activities of social constructionist counsellors 
can  be viewed  as  forms  of  deconstruction-in-process ( a   deconstruction  of 
the discursive frames which have been constructed  by  the client), but that 
they should  not  be  viewed as stepping outside the discursive conditions  of 
possibility  which  ground  their  work.  The   psy-complex  and therapeutic 
domains still function as relatively enduring structures which limit the degree 
to which we may construct and deconstruct psychotherapeutic discourse. 

Got any thoughts on other possible issues for therapists that seem all about the client but can also be seen as dyadic?

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Research Blogging about Blogging Research

Pro-Ana and pro-Self-Injury websites abound on the web as do more constructive sites that aim to detail personal narratives or empower those suffering from a wide range of psychological distress...so can we study these sites, using posts and comments as data for qualitative analysis? What are ethics of using this as data? Do we need consent? Is the info 'public' or private?

There are toolkits for analysis...here

Lots of studies here

Lots of papers on method

HERRING, S.C., Kouper, I., Paolillo, J.C., Scheidt, L.A., Tyworth,
M., Welsch, P., Wright, E., Ning Yu (2005) ‘Conversations in the
Blogosphere: An Analysis "From the Bottom Up”’, Proceedings of the 38th
Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS-38), Los
Alamitos: IEEE Press
HODKINSON, P (2007) ‘Interactive online journals and individualization’, New
Media and Society, 9(4) 625-650.
HOOKWAY, N. (2008) ‘”Entering the blogosphere:” some strategies for using
blogs in social research’ Qualitative Research 8(1) 91-113.
HUFFAKER, D.A., and Calvert, S. L. (2005). ‘Gender, identity , and language
use in teenage blogs’, Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication,
10(2), article1. http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol10/issue2/huffaker
THELWALL, M. (2007). ‘Blog searching: The first general-purpose source of
retrospective public opinion in the social sciences?’ Online Information
Review, 31(3), 277-289
THELWALL, M. & Prabowo, R. (2007). Identifying and characterising public
science-related fears from RSS feeds. Journal of the American Society for
Information Science and Technology, 58(3), 379-390.

Here is a good thread about it on MethodSpace

Do We Need to Know Philosophy?

A long time ago I remember enrolling in a few philosophy courses, covering Greek right up to social constructionism, I also tackled Foulcault's Birth of the Clinic and unsuccessfully read Derrida like every good liberal academic should but I am finding that many of my students aren't conversant in this field even though Psychology is essentially applied philosophy at it's core.

I would argue that clinicians need to understand basic philosophy is they are to learn more than technique and understand the paradigm and approach of the models they work by. See Burnham J. (1992). Approach - Method - Technique, Creating distinctions and creating connections. Human Systems , 3, 3-27 for more on this topic.

But what about researchers? Is there also a risk here that be are in danger of becoming technicians if we dont understand the epistomological basis of the methods we use? Can we simply pick from methods like a tool box? Is it possible to do a RCT one year and then a Discourse analysis piece of work the next? Can you do a mixed methods study employing methods from disparate epistomologies? 

Reminds me of a joke... "A scientist and his wife are out for a drive in the country. The wife says, 'Oh, look! Those sheep have been shorn.' "'Yes,' says the scientist. 'On this side.'" Get it?

Here's another philosophy joke"A blind man, a lesbian, and a frog walk into a bar. The barkeep looks up at them and says, 'What is this — a joke?'"

If you get these your safe!

I Need a Post on an Intro to Discourse Analysis

How does this work? Are there practical guides for beginners? Please help anyone out there? Want to make a post about it?

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Paper Alert: Transitioning from Clinical to Qualitative Research Interviewing


What a great topic for clinicians out there starting out as researchers!!!! Published in the International Journal of Qualitative Methods

Matthew R. Hunt, Lisa S. Chan, Anita Mehta (2011)


In this paper one aspect of the transition that must be made by experienced clinicians who become involved in conducting qualitative health research is examined, specifically, the differences between clinical and research interviewing. A clinician who is skillful and comfortable carrying out a clinical interview may not initially apprehend the important differences between these categories and contexts of interviewing. This situation can lead to difficulties and diminished quality of data collection because the purpose, techniques and orientation of a qualitative research interview are distinct from those of the clinical interview. Appreciation of these differences between interview contexts and genres, and strategies for addressing challenges associated with these differences, can help clinician researchers to become successful qualitative interviewers.

...here's a practical quote from the paper..

Learning to conduct effective research interviews is a basic skill for qualitative inquiry. Whether
conducting an ethnography, grounded theory, phenomenology, or most other qualitative studies, the
ability to gather data through interviewing is crucial. There are many types of qualitative interviews
including unstructured, semi-structured and structured interviews (Gubrium & Holstein, 2002; Tod,
2006). In addition, informal interviewing is also used in tandem with participant-observation in some
methodologies (Bernard, 2002; Fontana & Frey, 1994). To support clinicians new to qualitative research
we propose five strategies and approaches that can assist experienced clinicians to conduct successful
research interviews (as defined within a particular methodology or tradition). We recommend that
clinicians acknowledge and reflect critically on their prior interview experience, prepare carefully for
research interviews, maintain awareness of power dynamics within the interview, pay attention to the use
of language and verbal cues, and evaluate their own progress on an on-going basis.

...and the paper ITSELF

Which Articles/Books Inspired You Most?

Sometimes you read an article or a book that blows you away, in terms of showing you the way to go with your own research, inspiring you to use a particular method, beaking what you thought were rules about presenting material or causing you to refelct on your own endeavors......Id be keen to hear from you about your own favourite papers...here are my top five.

1. Philosophy and Social Hope by Richard Rorty

Not a qual book but a book on epistomology . This was my first real introduction to social constructionism and the liberating idea that pragmatism (what works) can be a guide for practice, rather than what is "true".....Rorty liberated me from thinking that one method was better than another, that qual was bettter than quant: which is the most useful for the task at hand is the question.

2. The Reflecting Team in Action Collaborative Practice in Family Therapy Friedman

Again, not a qual book but one where i first came across the idea of 'insider knoweldge' as opposed to expert knowledge. Goven qual reserch priveleges the knowledge of participants it was formative and directly inspired my PhD.

3. Chiovitti, Rosalina F. and Piran, Niva (2003) Rigour and grounded theory research. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 44(4): 427–435

A very formative paper where I cemented the view that qual research needs as much rigour built in an quant....trustworthiness is the key to being recognised and valued alongside quant research

4. Hunter, S (2010) Evolving Narratives About Childhood Sexual Abuse: Challenging the dominance of the victim survivor paradigm. ANZJournal of Family Therapy

First time Id seen a narrative inquiry paper, and a great one that had proper higher order themes, typologies that inspired.

5. Rober, P., Elliott, R., Buysse, A., Loots, G. & De Corte, K. (2008). What's on the therapist's mind? A grounded theory analysis of family therapist reflections during individual therapy sessions. Psychotherapy Research, 18 (1), 48-57.

First exposure to Interpersonal Process Recall and a paper that really captures the excitement and discovery of qual research...

Lets hear from you about your faves?

Monday, 14 May 2012

BrilliantReads: Minichiello & Kottler's (2010) Qualitative Journeys

Whats the best Qualitative book you've read ?
One that inspires and is written in a practical way ?
...here's mine,

Minichiello & Kottler's (2010) Qualitative Journeys: Student and Mentors Experiences with Research...

This is an invitation to make your research endeavor personal, not in terms of auto-ethnography but in terms of recognizing that doing qualitative research has the potential to actually change your own beliefs and way you think about life...this book firmly places the person of the researcher at the heart of the endeavor and demonstrates how, through struggle and collaborative dialogue, the researcher comes to find his own voice through the process of doing research. Reading this book  is liberating and reminds you, or causes you to reflect on, this critical dimension in doing qual research....it's more than an academic enterprise.

Its a particularly novel approach to demonstrating the nuts and bolts of qualitative methods...there are heaps of chapters each telling the story of a piece of research from the students perspective with excellent commentary from the authors throughout about wider lessons..in terms of nuts and bolts the book covers every aspect of the endeavor including design, interviewing analysis, writing up and a wide range of methodologies. There is also lots about the student-mentor relationship, fostering respectful and transparent relationships.

If your going to buy one qualitative book get this one!!

  • 1.The Personal Nature of Qualitative Research / Victor Minichiello / Jeffrey A. Kottler
  • 2.An Overview of the Qualitative Journey: Reviewing Basic Concepts / Jeffrey A. Kottler / Victor Minichiello
  • 3.Locating and Understanding Voices in Narrative Inquiry: A Journey of Discovery / Helen Edwards / Myfanwy Maple
  • 4.Radical Reflexivity in Qualitative Research / Victor Minichiello / David Leary / Jeffrey A. Kottler
  • 5.An Epidemiologist learns Grounded Theory / Jeffrey A. Kottler / Kiran Regmi
  • 6.When Serendipity Meets Opportunity: Qualitative Dimensions of Teacher Perceptions / LeAnn C. Putney / Connie L. Malin
  • 7.Online Dating and Mating: Methodological and Personal Reflections on Our Journey / Pranee Liamputtong / Danielle Couch
  • 8.Student, Supervisor, Researcher, Researched: Relationships and the Qualitative Research Journey / Wendy Hu / Carol Crbich
  • Contents note continued: 9.Exploring the Meaning and Function of Music in the Lives of Older People / Terrence Hays / Victor Minichiello
  • 10.Through My Eyes: Conducting Research as a Vision-Impaired Researcher / Alison Sheridan / Theresa Smith-Ruig
  • 11.Encounters With Comforting Uncertainties: Understanding Unobtrusive Methods / John Scott / Raymond Donovan
  • 12.A Transgender's Qualitative Journey: Deconstructing Gender-Based Social Opprobrium / Dana L. Comstock / Stacee Reicherzer
  • 13.Lessons From My First Focus Group Project / Suzanne Lunn / Larry Smith
  • 14.Discourse Analysis: Effects on the Researcher / Pol Dominic McCann / Victor Minichiello
  • 15.Integrating Theory and Method to Promote Social Change: Young Women and Physical Activity / Heidi Gilchrist / Gerard Sullivan
  • 16.Focus Group Methodology: Being Guided on a Journey From Novice to Expert / Jane Phillips / Patricia Davidson
  • Contents note continued: 17.Prominent Themes and Lessons Learned / Victor Minichiello / Jeffrey A. Kottler.

Watch Out for the Default Positon

One thing I have been noticing as new research students knock on my door is how easy it is for me (and them) to go straight to the default design position of grounded theory and interviews....(god forbid that thematic analysis is ever raised which I have committed to never doing again..b-o-r-i-n-g!!!)...

In the last five years I have discovered that are so many more exciting options, both for data collection and data analysis than this default position

In terms of data collection the options are endless; by all means use interview but why not augment it with some tools to allow for a richer process.

We are doing a study at the moment of grandparents experience of grandparenting after vision impairment and using relationship scanning tools taken directly from family therapy interviewing to augment our interviews.

In another study involving supervision of case managers in disability services  we are using complex sociograms to augment interview transcripts. You can get your participants to write poems, draw, do timelines, watch videos of themselves doing something related to the question at hand. We have another study where people who binge use an ipod to record their experience AS it happens (except the vomitting bit!).

In terms of data analysis the world is also your oyster. You can actually use established theories to analyse transcripts and see if they fit, you can use metaphors to add depth, code in big multi-disciplinary groups to gets multiple perspectives. We have just finished a study where the coding was done by actual participants which was very exciting and lead to much more trustworthy results.

Only pick grounded theory and interviews if it is the best for your research aims..otherwise MOVE over interviews plus grounded theory!!! Enoughs enough!!

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Qualitative Research: For Metal's Sake

Its a rare occasion when your work and your personal interests come together, but here it is...Qual research goes metal!!!!!

Sinclair, G. (2010) ‘Heavy metal rituals and the civilising process’, Can I Play with Madenss? Metal, Dissonance, Madness and Alienation. Prague 8th November, 2010.

Following an empirical qualitative study which incorporated semi-structured depth interviews and participant observation it was found that heavy metal fans in Ireland use heavy metal music in a similar fashion. Initial data suggests that the heavy metal fans are drawn to the excitement of the music because of their anger towards the repetitiveness and routinisation of popular music and their own everyday lives and social relationships. The music provides a cathartic release for the fans. The live eventis a unique structure where fighting and violence can occur in what is seen as a „controlled de-controlling of emotions‟. This is subject to external controls such as the pace of the music, security, and internal controls with the unwritten code of behaviour facilitating the survival of the mosh pit. It is argued that the distinctive configuration of the heavy metal ritual does not represent an example of a de-civilising process but is indicative of a more complex progression which Wouters refers to as „informalisation‟. This research is unique in that no previous study has examined the consumption of heavy metal music from a figurational perspective and it opens up a new framework for examining music subcultures
Personally id rather go with this explanation! From the British Telegraph

Heavy metal 'a comfort for the bright child'

Intelligent teenagers often listen to heavy metal music to cope with the pressures associated with being talented, according to research.
The results of a study of more than 1,000 of the brightest five per cent of young people will come as relief to parents whose offspring, usually long-haired, are devotees of Iron Maiden, AC/DC and their musical descendants.
Researchers found that, far from being a sign of delinquency and poor academic ability, many adolescent "metalheads" are extremely bright and often use the music to help them deal with the stresses and strains of being gifted social outsiders.
Stuart Cadwallader, a psychologist at the University of Warwick, will present the findings at the British Psychological Society conference in York today.
He said: "There is a perception of gifted and talented students as being into classical music and spending a lot of time reading. I think that is an inaccurate stereotype. There is literature that links heavy metal to poor academic performance and delinquency but we found a group that contradicts that.
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Sneak Peak at Family Therapy and Developmental Disability Research

Just writing up some research conducted with a group of practitioners..here's a sneak peak!

   The application of family therapy in developmental disabilities is limited. Harris (1984a) was arguably the first to publish case material, focusing on difficulties that might emerge when the intergenerational structure of the family is disrupted. Others have explored the significant difficulties families can experience negotiating lifecycle transitions (Birch, 1986, Goldberg et al. 1995), while emphasising the need to recognise familial strengths and narratives (Coles, 2001,Goddard et al, 2000, Gray, 2001). More recently, Rhodes (2003) has integrated the behavioural and systemic models, in order to expand mediation analysis and intervention. Baum and Lynggaard (2006) also advocate strongly for family therapy, providing evidence for the beginnings of wider acceptance in the field.
   The aim of this study is to explore the effects of systemic consultation (Rhodes et al., 2011), a form of case review built on the principles of systemic family therapy. Systemic consultation was designed to introduce the family therapy to clinicians trained in Applied Behaviour Analysis. In particular, the goal was to support them to become more aware of the patterns of interactions and relationships across multiple settings that might restrain effective behavioural intervention. Consultations are informed by systemic family therapy, first developed by Selvini-Palazzoli et al.(1978). This model considers the referred behaviour as one step in a sequence of interactions that can become stuck or rigid in the face of stressors or lifecycle transitions. Patterns can escalate, with relationship become increasingly fraught over time. While this serves as the primary model, issues relating to family and organisational structure are considered (Munuchin et al.,1978) and an emphasis is also placed on the amplification of strengths (De Shazer, 1985).
   In systemic consultation a clinician presents a case to between three and six members of a reflecting team over a 90-minute period (for a detailed description see Rhodes et al., 2011). The team is made up of peers trained in systemic theory and interviewing, including one experienced family therapist. The case is presented slowly, in a structured format that allows for careful thinking based on a gradual appraisal of information. The presentation is augmented by a sociogram drawn on a large board, with relevant facts being noted visually as the ‘story’ unfolds. The team asks questions throughout the presentation, rather than engaging in anecdotes, statements or advice-giving. After a 90 minute period the team discusses the case between themselves while the clinician sits in the same room listening in (Andersen, 1995).This gradual process of inquiry is designed to allow for the introduction of new perspectives arising through reciprocal conversation with the clinician, rather than didactic case presentations.
This study was part of a larger project aimed to develop and refine the process of systemic consultation using Participatory Action Research (PAR) (McIntyre, 2008). PAR involves the collaborative participation of stakeholders in the testing and development of practices. In the larger project both systemic consultation team members and visiting clinicians were interviewed about their experience of systemic consultation, with results being regularly fed back into practice. The aspect of the study being reported here explores the experience  of systemic consultation by visiting clinicians.
Ten visiting clinicians were invited to participate using a purposive sampling approach (Cohen et al., 2000). Clinicians were primarily employed in behaviour intervention roles, from a variety of disciplines, including psychology, special education and rehabilitation. All participation was voluntary and access to the systemic consultation was not predicated on agreement to participate in the research. All cases presented were highly complex in nature, involving challenging behaviour, such as physical aggression and property destruction, and involving acute problems such as neglect, violence and abuse. The majority of cases consisted of adolescents or adults with developmental disabilities living in residential settings, with a minority residing in the family home.
Summary of Findings

Prior to systemic consultations all clinicians described relying heavily on Applied Behaviour Analysis, with some more experienced staff also thinking in more relational terms. Cases were chosen because they had reached an impasse, where these skills were not sufficient to bring about change. Consultations had a variety of effects, including a focus on relationally-informed conceptualisations of client’s needs, the development of a facilitative position when working with staff and some skill development informed by systemic interviewing. These descriptions suggest that staff had been able to re-evaluate their cases, with consultations opening up new ways of working. It is important to note, however, that novice clinicians described managerial barriers to change and were more likely to feel overwhelmed without ongoing support.
One of the primary effects of systemic consultations was a shift in emphasis, enabling clinicians to develop a greater empathy for the relational needs of clients. Consultations allowed clinicians to interpret the meaning of challenging behaviour in interpersonal terms, as representing a need for reassurance and connection, needs that might relate to insecurity resulting from childhood trauma, to lifecycle transitions, or as part of what was becoming a negative cycle of interactions with staff. Applied Behaviour Analysis also interprets the meaning of behaviour, but does so in communicative rather than exclusively relational terms. From this perspective behaviour can serve a variety of important needs: for tangible reinforcement, for self-stimulation or self-regulation, to escape from an unpleasant situation or for the gaining of attention (Carret al., 1994). Some distinct differences can be drawn, however, between the types of relational needs described by clinicians in this study and these more overt conditioned responses.  In particular the somewhat static attention-maintaining category can to be contrasted with the more dynamic construct of attachment, an internal working model that has it’s roots in an individual’s interpersonal history (Bowlby, 1969).
Findings from this study also have implications for the nature of the relationship between clinicians and professional carers. Clinicians described a change in the way they related to staff, based on a review of their role, taking a step down from an expert to facilitator position. In family therapy terms this represents a shift from a position of solitary observer, external to the system observed (Hoffman, 1993), to one involving the social negotiation of meaning from within (Anderson & Goolishian, 1988). These findings are supported by the work of Smyly (2006), who is critical of the expert role of clinicians consulting to group homes, emphasising the need for reflective conversations, ones that help staff consider alternative ways of understanding challenging behaviour rather than being told directly of the results of functional analyses. These types of conversations between clinician and staff mirror what Tomm (1988) calls ‘interventive interviewing,’ a method for introducing new ideas while considering power in relationships. Expert or ‘top-down’ advice is seen to promote ‘stuckness’ or homeostasis , while a more facilitative role is more likely to create opportunities for change.
One of the limitations of systemic consultation seems to be the potential moderating effect of clinical experience. Novice therapists were found to feel more overwhelmed after consultations, given the implied need for greater engagement with a living system, as opposed to the relative predictability of Applied Behaviour Analysis. Knowledge management theorist Snowden (2000) proposes that complex systems can only be understood in retrospect. Decision-making in these instances can only be tentative, based on an engagement with patterns as they emerge rather than planned and operationalised in advance. Family therapists Sadler and Hulgus (1989) describe this phenomenon as follows:
We reserve "explanation" for the description of causal processes, for example, those of physiology or chemistry. We use "understanding" to describe human meanings and not causal processes.
Novice clinicians may require ongoing support if they are to learn to work in this way, in the form of follow-up sessions or through training in systemic theory or interventive interviewing.
Another limitation of systemic consultation is the potential organisational barriers to change when clinicians chose to work differently. This is understandable given the increasing demand for accountability within health and human services, where hierarchical managerialism and technological regulation are prevalent (Burton and van den Broek, 2009). At a minimum it might be useful to invite managers to participate in consultations, to foster greater understanding between them and their clinical staff. There will be situations, however, where these types of barriers cannot be negotiated through systemic consultation.
Despite some promising findings research into systemic consultation is in its infancy. Future studies may benefit from the inclusion of a comparison group, consisting of clinicians receiving standard supervision. Social network analysis may also provide a quantitative method for evaluating outcomes (Freeman, 2006). In addition, the heterogeneity of cases was limited in this study, with the majority to living in group home settings. Further research is required to explore the applicability of this method for clinicians working with children and adults living at home as well as those living is less supported forms of accommodation. 

The Zone: Olympic Video Based on Qualitative Methods

Qual methods go Hollywood, or at least London Olympics!

Check out this great video the Zone supported by the British Psychological Society's Qualitative Methods in Psychology...

Video Installation by David Bickerstaff 
Made in collaboration with Victoria Tischler

The phenomenon of the zone or flow refers to a state of athletic peak performance, likened to a transcendent, ecstatic condition of effortless yet focussed and optimal functioning. Qualitative data represents in-depth textual and visual information gathered from individuals to facilitate understanding ofexperience and process. In this project we focus on the interaction between mental processes and physical performance and map it onto a series of filmed journeys through various athletic landscapes - sports apparatus, running tracks, water-courses and other spaces. The relationship between the athletes’ testimony and the architectural void in which they perform, triggers a construct that allows us to explore the poetics of athletic experience.   

Voiced by Mia Austen and Steven Edwards

This project is supported by the British Psychological Society - Qualitative Methods in Psychology

The Zone from David Bickerstaff on Vimeo.

Impact Factor Vs impact ? Should We Speak More Directly to the Public ?

I've been thinking alot about the state of affairs lately in publishing research findings and how hung up we all are (or have to be) on citations and Impact Factors..there are some ethical issues involved in this striving for numbers when you consider the field we work in...

Let imagine for example that you find, through your research, that you understand a little more about how to recover from a psychological difficulty? You explore an important issue related to people with a specific health problem? a disability? What are our obligations when it comes to disseminating those findings? Should be simply be thinking that getting in the best journal is enough? Flying to the conference in the Bahamas?  Isn't this a little problematic? Will it trickle down to actual clients in the end because of the exposure of the best journals to clinicians or do we have a responsibility to actually communicate more directly with the actual people in question? How can we best do this?

Should we hold forums for the general public? Carers?

What about practitioner journals with no Impact Factor but those that are read by heaps of clinicians looking for practical help? Take ANZ Journal of Family Therapy....it is filled with "how to" papers, incredibly practical hands-on work about the real world of the therapy room? But without an Impact Factor should we put our own careers first and ignore such a journal? Wouldn't publishing in the New Idea have a bigger impact?

What about Open Access Journals...we love to hate them but is this justified?

What do people think about these issues in the light of career development?

My idea, albeit naive perhaps is that we need to innovate and be ahead of the pack in this regard..if we buck the system a little maybe eventually some leadership will be recognized when we go for promotions?