Historically, qualitative research proceeded on the basis of a fairly conservative concern to defend its perspectives and practices. In more recent times, qualitative researchers have begun to throw the net far and wide in order to find creative ways to address the complex challenges of approaching the human and social realms. Such a move into new waters has been served not just by a scientific concern with ‘truth’ but also by aesthetic and ethical concerns that may reflect Plato’s characterisation of the three realms of ‘the good, the true and the beautiful’. The challenge for qualitative research then is to incorporate insights, not just from the philosophy of science but from the philosophies of art, literature, ethics and aesthetics as well. One of the practical implications of this for qualitative research is that qualitative researchers may need to become more explicit at the beginning of their studies in articulating the kind of knowledge, understanding or purposes that the specific research aims to address.
The Centre for Qualitative Research, in addition to providing expertise in traditional qualitative research methodologies such as grounded theory, ethnography and narrative analysis, is also pursuing novel and innovative methodologies that draw upon multiple influences and epistemologies from philosophy, the arts and the humanities. There are a number of innovations being developed here, and for which we are becoming increasingly known. These include Performative Social Science, Biographic Narrative Interpretive Method, The Cut-up Technique, Unitary Appreciative Inquiry and integrative approaches to ‘mixing’ qualitative research methods.
- Jones, K. (2012). Connecting Research with Communities through Performative Social Science. The Qualitative Report 2012, Vol. 17, Review/Essay 18, 1-8.
- Holloway I. & Todres, L. (2007). Thinking differently: challenges in qualitative research. International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-Being. 2(1), 12-18.
- Jones, K. (2004). Mission drift in qualitative research, or moving toward a systematic review of qualitative studies, moving back to a more systematic narrative review. The Qualitative Report, Vol. 9, No. 1, Mar 2004: 95-112.
Ways of integrating a variety of qualitative approaches
A challenging issue in qualitative research focuses on its internal coherence on the one hand, and its diversity on the other. We have contributed to this debate by taking an inclusive perspective that acknowledges the need for consistency between research approach, research question and research methods. However, we also wish to acknowledge the possibility of mixing qualitative research methods depending upon a clear and consistent research framework. Staff of the Centre have also contributed to ongoing methodological debates about breadth and depth in qualitative research, ethical issues and developments in data collection.
The Gay and Pleasant Land? Project provides a substantial example of a ‘multi-method’ approach to a qualitative study. The project used mult-methods to explore connections between place, space and identity, which included visual ethnography, focus groups and interviews using the Biographic Narrative Interpretive Method. The development and production of a short, professonally made film, RUFUS STONE, was the key dissemination tool of the Project.
- Fenge, L.-A. & Jones, K. (2011) “Gay and Pleasant Land? Exploring Sexuality, Ageing and Rurality in a Multi-Method, Performative Project” British Journal of Social Work, Br J Soc Work (2011) doi: 10.1093/bjsw/bcr058
- Holloway, I & Todres, L. (2003). The Status of Method: Flexibility, consistency and coherence. Qualitative Research. 3(3), 345-357
- Holloway I. (ed.) (2005) Qualitative Research in Health Care. Maidenhead: Open University Press
- Holloway I. & Freshwater D. (2007) Narrative Research for Nurses. Oxford: Blackwell
- Holloway I. (2008) A-Z of Qualitative Research in Healthcare. Oxford: Blackwell
- Todres, L. & Wheeler, S. (2001) The complementarity of phenomenology, hermeneutics and existentialism as a philosophical perspective for nursing research. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 38, 1-8.
- Todres, L & Galvin, K (2005). Pursuing both breadth and depth in qualitative research: illustrated by a study of the experience of intimate caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease. International Journal of Qualitative Methods. 4(2), 1-11. Available at: http://www.ualberta.ca/~ijqm/backissues/4-2//pdf/todres.pdf
- Redwood, S. & Todres, L. (2006). Exploring the Ethical Imagination: Conversation as Practice Versus Committee as Gatekeeper [25 paragraphs]. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research [On-line Journal], 7(2), Art. 34. Available at: http://www.qualitative-research.net/fqs-texte/2-06/06-2-34-e.htm