Video Interview: Sarah Foley

Among the issues addressed in Chapter 17, Evanthia Lyons and Jess Prior examine a pluralistic approach to qualitative research (in a subsection with that title). This approach is also briefly examined in Chapter 2 of the book.

A pluralistic approach involves applying different qualitative methods with different ontologies and epistemologies to a single data set. For example, if you had a set of interview transcripts and you were using a pluralistic approach to analysis, you might analyse the transcripts using thematic analysis and then narrative analysis and then discourse analysis. Each analytic approach adds distinctive insights and the aim is to produce an analysis that is rich and multi-layered. However, it can be difficult to get a sense of how exactly such an ambitious approach to qualitative analysis might work and feel like in practice.

In this video, Sarah Foley talks about her experience of being part of a group that used a pluralistic approach to analyse accounts of depression. She also shares her experience of teaching students about a pluralistic approach and having them use it in course work.

In the video, Sarah notes the importance of having incorporated a reflexive approach into the analytic process. Reflexivity is addressed in Chapter 2 of the book in a section entitled ‘Reflexivity in qualitative research’ and in Chapter 17 in a subsection entitled ‘The role of the researcher: Theoretical knowledge and biographical experiences’. For other examples of studies in which reflective materials were used, see the video interviews with Abdallah Rothman on reflexivity (Chapter 2), Laura Moreno-Galindo on Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (Chapters 9 and 10) and Maria Dempsey on grounded theory (Chapters 11 and 12).

Sarah Foley is a Lecturer in the School of Applied Psychology at University College Cork (UCC) in the Republic of Ireland. She obtained her PhD in Applied Psychology from UCC in 2020. In her research, Sarah employs qualitative research methods in the field of human-computer interaction to examine the role of technology and design in care contexts. Her PhD research examined the use of technology to enhance social relationships in dementia care. Sarah teaches qualitative research methods to undergraduate and postgraduate students in Applied Psychology, and is an active member of the Ireland Network for Pluralism in Qualitative Research. That network brings together cross-disciplinary researchers across Ireland who have an interest in qualitative research practices. 

To find out more about a pluralistic approach and about the research that Sarah Foley refers to in the video, see: