Monday, 25 May 2015

ICQI Coda: Can I Free Myself and My Students to Be?

As I sit in the airport I'm having a flood of thoughts about my role as a researcher and a mentor for my students. I have just read Elisabeth St Pierre's chapter on New Empiricism, which has also catalysed these thoughts...how do we rescue qualitative research more fully from the positivist paradigm?

As a therapist I know my techniques but then enter the therapy room "not knowing.." Leaving room for something to emerge despite these techniques is the only way for something healing and New to emerge. Collaborative tentative reflection is the way to make meaning in more respectful and ethical ways. When I meet with families I make them my only focus for that hour. BUT the question is, why am I not doing this or teaching this as a researcher? Why have I become so obsessed with method that the emergent is at risk of being strangled. How come I don't leave enough time for collective reflexivity or keep the hour of supervision sacred?

I have been reflecting on how, if qual research really is exploratory then it must truly be a journey of discovery and an entry into the unknown like therapy is. It can also transform us as well as our participants in the process. I must remember this more clearly in the rush and business of academic life.

Methodolatry is also one of the main obstacles to this process. There must be room to allow method to follow findings and be changed in an iterative fashion. As St Pierre says, "going for a walk" when stuck IS method, just as reading books curiously, especially theory is a part of a "literature review". My confession is that I have let method trump theory, and more importantly let method trump discovery in research.

When I return I am to change some of the culture of my research and mentoring. I will try and foster theorising, engage myself and my students more reflectively and serve collectively as witnesses to our participants. The work I do teaching family therapists needs to be mirrored in my work mentoring research.

Thankyou ICQI and all the wonderful people I met, for setting me on a new course as a researcher...hopefully I will become a better academic and a better person because of you


  1. Hello Paul. Well put. I am often on the go go go so meandering through the qualitative can sometimes feel like a luxury or procrastination. I have a hard time wrapping my mind around the fact that the meandering is an integral part of the process that allows for the emergence that is the beauty of qualitative. -Cynthia

  2. Thanks a lot for your niche sharing. I found more helpful info at here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qualitative_research