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.
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
Clinical Psychology Unit.