Friday, 31 August 2012

Qual Unconference 2013 Anyone?

Im thinking heavily about running an Unconference or QualCamp at Sydney Uni next year..a what? I hear you say...

Here is how it works..first the things not done

No pompous plenaries or panels

No prepared talks
No $780 rego fees
No overheads
No horrible meals
No domination by people who want to show off

Unconferences are a new trend, about 5 years or so in Australia, (see News-com.au article ) where the emphasis is placed on collaborative learning rather than pontificating....basically everyone is a particpant, they all turn up and through skilled facilitation develop the agenda on the first day.....a number of streams might be developed, cented around actual problem solving, story telling and also teaching technical skills...but there are no dyadic talks..maybe 7mins max of talk time given to many people, then discussion...

If we held one at Uni, for example, 100 people might meet in the quadrangle then split up based on interests and find spaces to run sessions.. uni cafes, parks, Glebe Point Road cafes, lecture theatres, lecture rooms wherever..

Instead of panels there are Unpanels done in a fishbowl discussion style with speakers in the middle, rotating with participants..

Spectrograms can be used to place people along a continuum of agreement/disagreement with a controversial topic..people are then interviewed along the line

Community-Mapping can be done to visually picture how everyones research projects are related to each other....

..also Lightening Talks, SpeedGeeking and more...

There are many other creative ideas..check this blog and others.......want to be involved?

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Onwards and Upwards? Lets See

Proposal to Head of School
Development of Qualitative Research Education Unit in School of Psychology
Dr Paul Rhodes, Clinical Psychology Unit

An informal research support group was developed 18 months ago, Qualitative Research in Psychology (QRIP), to support qualitative researchers in the School of Psychology. Fortnightly meetings have been held since this time focussing on educating students on the full gamut of qualitative research knowledge, from epistemology to design, methods, data collection techniques, data analysis methodologies, rigour, coding, writing up, publishing and more.
Methods explored have included thematic analysis, grounded theory, discourse analysis, conversational analysis, interpersonal process recall, interpretative phenomenological analysis, narrative inquiry, community-based participatory action and more.
This material is presented in an informal setting, involving discussion and development of current research and serves to augment lectures given in the school. Many of the group meetings have involved interview role playing, collaborative research design, collaborative coding and many other activities that are most suitable for a group setting.
Achievements to Date
Since QRIP’s inception 87 students and academics have joined, from the School of Psychology, but also from Health Sciences, the Medical School, Social Work, Occupational Therapy and other affiliated disciplines. Fifteen to twenty students and academics attend meetings, depending on content, and a majority are Honours, DCP and PhD students from the School of Psychology. Many of these students have teamed up to work together in between meetings, particularly for cross coding purposes.  Formal feedback concerning student satisfaction and feedback regarding these groups will be sought at the end of 2012 and annually from then.
 The remaining members are supported by our listserve, our Usyd E-Community site, our blog and occasional one-to-one meetings conducted by myself. The blog has proved a particularly innovative and effective resource, well suited to the way in which students source information and interaction. The blog receives approximately 500 hits per week by those seeking advice on qualitative research, including our own students. http://qual-rip.blogspot.com.au/. It appears as the second international Google search item under search terms ‘qualitative research psychology.’ It has also been recently recommended by the British Psychology Societies Readers Digest to U.K Psychologists.  Recognition and encouragement has also come from Prof. Lyn Richards (Founder of QSR International), "Love your blog – and your openness and practical de-mystifying approach. Qualitative research needs so much more of such input – and an ability to laugh at itself".
This group has also been recognised by the Institute of Teaching and Learning, University of Sydney, including an article in their regular Newsletter and presentation at ITL Seminar. I am also presenting related material at The Australian Conference on Science and Mathematics Education (The 18th UniServe Science Conference). Rhodes, P. What standards should be set for qualitative research conducted in a science faculty: Psychology, rigour and the politics of evidence. A close relationship with The Centre for Values, Ethics and Law in Medicine, University of Sydney has also developed, including research supervision of our students being supported by their academics and exchanges in teaching responsibilities.
Given these developments I am proposing that QRIP be developed into the Qualitative Research Education Unit, hosted by the School of Psychology.
1. To provide technical support to research students in the School of Psychology conducting qualitative research
2. To promote methodological diversity in qualitative research in the School.
3. To promote high standards of rigour in qualitative research in the School, including the use of methods to ensure dependability and credibility of findings.
4. To foster collaboration with other academic qualitative researchers in the University of Sydney and other Universities, who can further support research students in the School of Psychology, providing specific technical expertise when required, including serving as Associate Supervisors.
5. To actively advocate for the further recognition of qualitative research in the School of Psychology and Psychology as a field.
Many of the functions of the Unit would be consistent with QRIP as it now stands.
1. Provision of regular education and research support group meetings
2. Provision of Digital resources: Listserve, Usyd E-Community and Blog resource
3. Provision of one-to-one consultations for research students in the School of Psychology
Additional functions would include:
4. Development of a group of Academic Associates to support the endeavours of the Unit and research students in the School of Psychology
5. Hosting regular small seminars with guest speakers to support research students in the School of Psychology
6. Develop and advocate for clear standards of excellence in the design and conduct of qualitative research in psychology
7. Support a mentoring system between students at different levels of research, providing opportunities for PhD students to gain experience in supporting research students.
Proposed Outcomes
1. Increased number of research students including qualitative methods in their research, where appropriate.
2. Increased standard and rigour of qualitative research conducted by students in the School of Psychology.
3. Greater number of students asking and answering questions that are suitable for qualitative research, including therapeutic process research, research on reflective practice, community-based action initiatives, consumer-driven research.
4. Enhanced pool of Associate Supervisors and technical expertise available to students.
5. Further recognition of the School of Psychology as supporting innovation and diversity in research.
6. Enhanced capacity to manage larger numbers of students requiring supervison.
To date QRIP has been essentially coordinated  informally, with feedback from students. I am seeking to change this by:
1. Convening a committee to meet once every four months to discuss directions and organisation of events, made up of both academic and student representatives.
2. Committee would also conduct annual reviews of both student satisfaction and outcomes (including number and quality of publications)
3. Report to Head of School each year on achievements and future goals.
4. Development of a central web page, linked from School of Psychology from which the details regarding meetings, events, blog could be accessed.

Dr Paul Rhodes
Senior Lecturer
Clinical Psychology Unit.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Thesis Boot Camp Anyone ? Shut Up and Write

The best Phd blog in the universe is obviously the Thesis Whisperer who has developed fantastic idea  for research students, Shut Up and Write meetings held in RMIT Cafes or thereabouts....the idea started in San Francisco where writers met together to chat, drink coffee, then 'time-box', keeping quiet for 45 minutes until the next break....I notice the library at UTS has started doing it and that Melbourne Uni has also done Thesis Boot Camps....

Seems a perfect idea to mediate against the isolation of writing AND procrastination...

Im flagging the idea for QRIP too, but with some of the breaks for consultation about the writing of qual research, with academics but also between students....in situ group problem solving...Ive sent an email out to all members, lets see what happens

Standards for Quality ?

I have a talk coming up titled What standards should be set for qualitative research conducted in a science faculty: Psychology, rigour and the politics of evidence which i will present at the Australian Conference on Science and Mathematics Education 2012, Sydney, Australia..I havent written it yet but have been reading a great paper, below and a few others

Quality in qualitative research

They propose the following standards to judge good qual research:

    • Clarification and justification;
    • Procedural rigour;
    • Representativeness;
    • Interpretative rigour;
    • Reflexivity and evaluative rigour; and
    • Transferability.

Clarification and justification
As in all forms of research, clarity of research question reflected in the aims of the study is essential for evaluating results and their interpretation. The demonstration of theoretical rigour (referring to the soundness of fit of the research question, aims and the choice of methods appropriate to the research problem11) is extremely important.
There is a wide variety of named qualitative approaches that are underpinned by particular theoretical perspectives. In addition, the researcher may use basic field research (question, investigation, interpretation). Regardless of the theoretical approach used, the choice requires justification in reference to the research question of the study.
Procedural rigour
Procedural, or methodological, rigour concerns the transparency or “explicitness” of the description of the way the research was conducted. It involves detailing issues of accessing subjects; development of rapport and trust; how data are collected, recorded, coded and analysed; and accounts of the manner in which errors or subject refusals are dealt with.4,11,22 In this regard, readers and reviewers may ask the following questions while examining descriptions of qualitative methods: How were participants/settings accessed? Who was interviewed/observed? How often? For how long? What interview questions were asked? What was the purpose of any observation? Which policy documents/case notes were accessed? How were they assessed? How was collected data managed?
There are a number of commonly available, non-probability sampling approaches. Maximum variation sampling seeks representativeness of all aspects of the topic in terms of participants. Homogenous sampling consists of the selection of a group fitting specified criteria. Snowball samplinginvolves networking from one difficult-to-access type of participant to a wider range of participants. Finally, convenience sampling involves studying easily accessed individuals or groups. This last technique obviously presents its own ethical dilemmas of the “insider” type and is possibly the weakest form of sampling in terms of allowing conceptual generalisability.4,15,16,22,23Maximum variation is the ideal when a holistic overview of the phenomenon is sought; for instance, the question of how a particular hospital department operates may involve sampling in the wider organisation as well as within the individual department and among recipients of services.
Simply mentioning the sampling strategy in the methods section of a qualitative research paper is not sufficient. The key findings of the research need to be evaluated in reference to the diverse characteristics of the research subjects. Through constantly comparing the experiences and responses of the participants against each other, subtle but significant differences can be uncovered that can generate profound insights into the phenomena under study.19
Interpretative rigour
Interpretative rigour relates to as full as possible a demonstration of the data/evidence. In qualitative research, a commonly used concept is inter-rater reliability. This refers to using a type of researcher triangulation by which multiple researchers are involved in the analytical process. This is an attempt to increase the validity and reliability of the study19 through the provision of a more complex and nuanced understanding of the possible interpretations of the objects of the research.11 In contrast to the quantitative research paradigm, what is important in this process is not the level of consensus, but the opportunity for discussion among analysts to provide opportunities for developing further coding.19
A related technique is that of respondent validation, or member checking. This entails offering subjects interviewed the opportunity to view and amend their transcripts as a type of validity.12 However, this approach does have limitations due to the evolution over time of the positions and purposes of the researchers and participants, thereby potentially affecting interpretations and accounts. Respondent validation should be thought of as part of a process of reducing error, which involves the generation of further original data, which then requires interpretation.8
Other techniques that enhance interpretative rigour are the differing forms of triangulation: data (multiple evidentiary sources; ie, documents, interviews, survey data, observation), methods (multiple methods), and theory (multiple theoretical and conceptual frames applied to the research to enhance insights into phenomena). Using these forms of triangulation allows the development of a comprehensive understanding of the phenomena and can ameliorate the potential bias of simply using one method.4,5,8,11,16,22
In the interpretive process, accounts of “negative” or “deviant” cases are especially important. These are explanations pertaining to data or evidence that contradicts the researchers overall explanatory account of the phenomena.5
In sum, a clear description of what forms of analysis were used, the process and what were the major outcomes of the analytical process in terms of findings is needed to ensure quality for the author, and to enable an assessment to be made in terms of the analytical quality of the research by the reader.
Reflexivity and evaluative rigour
Reflexivity is where researchers openly acknowledge and address the influence that the relationship among the researchers, the research topic and subjects may have on the results.4,11,13 Fundamentally, reflexivity requires a demonstration by the researchers that they are aware of the sociocultural position they inhabit and how their value systems might affect the selection of the research problem, research design, collection and analysis of data.15 It also refers to an awareness by the researchers of the social setting of the research and of the wider social context in which it is placed.4
Evaluative rigour refers to ensuring that the ethical and political aspects of research are addressed. Typically, this refers to proper ethics approval from appropriate committees covering confidentiality, informed consent and steps to avoid possible adverse effects on the subjects. Importantly, where appropriate, relevant community leaders should be consulted in the design and conduct of the research.11 Researchers should revisit their actions and interactions within the research process to ensure as “accurate” as possible portrayal of the production of their findings.
Conceptual generalisability and transferability refer to how well the study’s findings inform health care contexts that differ from that in which the original study was undertaken.4 For example, a review of data from qualitative studies was conducted on a wide variety of doctor–patient interactions about medication compliance.24 The authors examined barriers to patients taking prescribed medication as directed by their doctors and found that patients were often inclined to resist taking medicines, not because of problems with the patients, doctors or systems, but because patients were concerned about the medicines. This type of study allows for the construction and transfer of general policy on medicine-taking (through, for example, less emphasis on patient behaviour modification and more emphasis on production of safer medicines) and practice (suggesting, for instance, that doctors should assist lay evaluations through provision of more information, support, feedback and safe prescribing practices
Here is an approach that perhaps has more consideration for the many different types of qual research

The Open University, UK
m.hammersley@open.ac.uk MartynHammersley 0000002007 330Taylor & Francis 2007 Original Article 1743-727X (print)/1743-7288 (online) International Journal of Research & Method in Education 10.1080/17437270701614782 CWSE_A_261329.sgm Taylor and Francis
This article addresses the perennial issue of the criteria by which qualitative research should be evaluated. At the present time, there is a sharp conflict between demands for explicit criteria, for example in order to serve systematic reviewing and evidence-based practice, and arguments on the part 
of some qualitative researchers that such criteria are neither necessary nor desirable. At issue here,

in part, is what the term ‘criterion’ means, and what role criteria could play in the context of qualitative enquiry. Equally important, though, is the question of whether a single set of criteria is possible across qualitative research, given the fundamental areas of disagreement within it. These reflect 
divergent paradigms framed by value assumptions about what is and is not worth investigation. In 
addition, there are differences in methodological orientation: over what counts as rigorous enquiry, 
realism versus constructionism, and whether the goal of research is to produce knowledge or to serve 
other goals.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Designing MIxed Methods Research

I was involved in a really useful meeting today looking at a mixed method study that involved the sequential use of community-based participatory action research as a hypothesis generation tool, followed by a more quantitative testing of emergent themes and theory from that study....

Mixed methods studies have so many advantages and can be used in many different ways.

1. Quant data can support qual analysis, triangulating, or adding trustworthiness to findings
2. Qual studies can be nested in bigger quant studies like randomised control trials
3. Quant and qual studies can be done simultaneously with both sets of findings analysed together (the inside and outside views)
4. Qual studies can generate hypotheses that are then tested by quant studies

There are many more designs of course...if you want to know more I highly reccommend the following book chapter, just email me p.rhodes@sydney.edu.au if you are a Usyd student and want access to it..

Research design : qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches / John W. Creswell. 
Edition 2nd ed. Publisher Thousand Oaks, Calif. : Sage Publications, c2003. Chapter 11: Mixed methods procedures

Mix it up!!!!

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

How to Derive Meaning (Not Just Codes) From our Data: Ten Tips

I have recently been discussing the issue of making meaning from your data not just listing lots of themes with a couple of my students...trawling through your transcripts and coding similar phenomenon might be time consuming and important but in the end this type of coding is only a tool to help you think about the depth and complexity of what is really going on in the data.....the aim is to move from CATEGORISING to developing CONEPTS, to let higher order meaning emerge from your analysis.

Here are 10 tips I would recommend to help:

1. Go for a walk, untangle yourself from your data and just see what comes to you
2. Try telling someone what it all means in five minutes....you may already know how it hangs together
3. Draw lots of diagrams and pictures until one comes out that seems to fit
4. Talk to colleagues to get it out of your head and bounce it off someone else
5. Cross reference categories with demographics.
6. Have a look at Negative Cases or Outliers...they will tell you alot about the rest
7. Go to theories in the literature..do they kick start your thinking?
8. Summarise each of your participants findings into one paragraph, lay all of them out on the floor and then compare and contrast these, not the codes.
9. Struggle
10.and keep struggling!

REMEMBER..build an argument or a narrative...not a list!

Here is an incredibly good paper by the master, Pat Bazeley Research Support P/L and Australian Catholic University