SAGE Journal Articles

Click on each link to expand and view the content. Click again to collapse. Please note that journal article links will open in a new window. Readings are not provided for Chapter 1.

Chapter 2: Gearing Up: There is Method in the Madness

Article 1

Gale, K., Speedy, J., & Wyatt, J. (2010). Gatecrashing the Oasis? A Joint Doctoral Dissertation Play Qualitative Inquiry, 16(1), 21-28.

This article explores the institutional and individual struggles surrounding the submission of a jointly authored doctoral dissertation at a British university. The article is written as a play script, which allows for different points of view to be offered and juxtaposed and for key issues to emerge and be explored. These issues include the institutional and individual impact of challenging what counts as original doctoral scholarship, the supervision relationship, and aspects of the experience of the completion of a doctorate. The play works with the metaphor of nomadic journeying across desert terrain toward the “Oasis” of membership of the academy as an image of the doctoral process.

Questions that apply to this article:

1. What are some of the key issues raised in this play script?

2. What do you see as the most challenging aspect of writing a qualitative dissertation?

3. What goals will you set for yourself as you embark on the qualitative research process?


Article 2

Espino, M., Muñoz, S., &  Marquez Kiyama, J. (2010). Transitioning From Doctoral Study to the Academy: Theorizing Trenzas of Identity for Latina Sister Scholars. Qualitative Inquiry, 16(10), 804-818. 

This article focuses on multiple truths pertaining to doctoral education as expressed by three Latina doctoral recipients. These scholars successfully navigated various educational processes with the support of one another, their families, faculty, and their chosen discipline. The authors, as sister scholars, retell their educational journeys through testimonio and analyze how their trenzas de identidades multiples (multiple strands of identity) now inform their work. By interrogating the extent to which intersections of identity affect educational and career pathways, the authors use platica (dialogue) to theorize their doctoral experiences and examine how their challenges and successes manifest in their professional lives in academia.

Questions that apply to this article:

1. What value do you expect to derive from using a reflective journal?

2. What insights have you derived from this article?

3. What was most surprising to you as you read this article? Why?


Article 3

Dillow, C. (2009).  Growing Up: A Journey Toward Theoretical Understanding. Qualitative Inquiry, 15(8), 1338-1351.

This article describes a struggle and a journey between the need to be scholarly and the desire to be evocative. The author discusses how, as a doctoral student, she was aware of the need to address her innate resistance to use theory and how she struggled to assimilate this with her research project. The author uses a narrative style to explore approaches to theory, knowledge, and representation and to illustrate this struggle within the context of her research into lived experience. To do this, she records the way she constructed her own theoretical framework, and explains the realization that decisions about approach and method are indeed theoretically informed and supported. The article illustrates how the author faced her theories about theories, discovering that the journey is important and that certainty is an elusive destination.

Questions that apply to this article:

1. What assumptions do you hold about “knowledge”?

2. In what ways, if at all, do you anticipate having to struggle with theory integration?

3. Going into your study, what are your thoughts about creating a conceptual framework to guide your research?


Article 4

Leisey, M. (2008). Qualitative Inquiry and the IRB: Protection at all Costs? Qualitative Social Work, 7(4), 415-426.

Implications of Institutional Review Board (IRB) decisions, especially for qualitative researchers, may be that already marginalized voices continue to go unvoiced. Using a constructivist inquiry as a case study, this article examines IRB assessment of risk for interpretive qualitative research.

Questions that apply to this article:

1. What new insights about IRB have you derived from this article?

2. What are your views on the perspective adopted by this author?

3. What do you understand as “protecting human subjects” vis-à-vis qualitative research?


Article 5

Tierney, W. G., & Blumberg Corwin, Z.. (2007). The Tensions Between Academic Freedom and Institutional Review Boards. Qualitative Inquiry  13(3), 388-398.

Academic freedom and the protection of human research subjects are central tenets of American universities. Academic freedom protects the rights of tenured professors to conduct autonomous research; human subject protection ensures that research causes as minimal a risk as possible to study participants. Although the two principles are mutually exclusive, recent trends in Institutional Review Board jurisdiction have placed the two principles in increasing conflict with one another. This article outlines three ways in which Institutional Review Boards potentially infringe on academic freedom: (a) by regulating who is required to consent to research, (b) by stipulating the type of questions allowed and location of research interactions, and (c) by limiting research design.

Questions that apply to this article:

1. Do you agree that IRB restrictions impinge on academic freedom? Explain your reasons.

2. What do you think are the implications of unregulated qualitative research?

3. How do you define “research design”?


Article 6

Colyar, J. (2009). Becoming Writing, Becoming Writers. Qualitative Inquiry, 15(2), 421-436.

Many qualitative researchers have puzzled over the question of how to write more engaging, more communicative texts. “Why” we write, however, is not often part of our scholarly conversations. In this article, the author examines the writing process and positions writing as a learning tool that enables what researchers know about themselves and their topics. The author engages with writing as a product, process, form of invention, and instrument of self-reflection, suggesting that writing should be included more intentionally in our research methods courses. 

Questions that apply to this article:

1. What are your views regarding writing in first or third person?

2. What do you personally see as the key challenge/s involved in academic writing?

3. What aspect of academic writing do you struggle most with?

4. What is your view on the qualitative researcher/writer as “instrument of self-reflection”, and what do you anticipate might be some of the limitations in this respect?


Article 7

Quinlan, K. M. (2013). Writing the First Person Singular. Qualitative Inquiry, 19(5), 405.

Here, a poem explores the boundaries of what can be written in the social sciences and how far we can push those norms of social science. It addresses the discomfort many social scientists feel when writing in the active, first person singular, while raising questions about qualitative inquiry that plague those who choose to venture into literary writing styles that offer a greater expressive range and more emotive language.

Questions that apply to this article:

1. What are the implications for the researcher of writing in the first-person singular?

2. What are the implications for the reader of writing in the first-person singular?

3. What insights do you come away with from reading this poem?

Chapter 3:  Choosing a Qualitative Research Approach

Article 1

Pezalla, A. E., Pettigrew, J. et al. (2012). Researching the researcher-as-instrument: an exercise in interviewer self-reflexivity. Qualitative Research, 12(2), 165-185.

Because the researcher is the instrument in qualitative interviews, unique researcher characteristics have the potential to influence the collection of empirical materials. This article discusses the interviewer characteristics of three different interviewers who are part of a qualitative research team. The researcher/interviewers – and authors of this article – reflect on their own and each other’s interviews and explore the ways in which individual interview practices create unique conversational spaces. The results suggest that certain interviewer characteristics may be more effective than others in eliciting detailed narratives from respondents depending on the perceived sensitivity of the topic, but that variation in interviewer characteristics may benefit rather than detract from the goals of team-based qualitative inquiry. The authors call for the inclusion of enhanced self-reflexivity in interviewer training and development activities, and argue against standardization of interviewer practices in qualitative research teams.

Questions that apply to this article:

1. What is meant by “researcher-as-instrument” in qualitative research?

2. What are the key strengths of “researcher-as-instrument”?

3. What are the limitations of “researcher-as-instrument”?


Article 2

Kral, M. J. (2014). The Relational Motif in Participatory Qualitative Research.  Qualitative Inquiry, 20(2), 144-150.

The relationship between researchers and the researched is at the center of qualitative research, particularly participatory research. In this article, the author describes the nature of this relationship in Indigenous communities, where there is a history of problematic research relationships. Indigenous and other research funding agencies are increasingly adding participation/ collaboration as an ethical principal for research. Reasons for this are reviewed, and his work with Inuit in Arctic Canada is outlined with a focus on community participation in the research. It is recommended that enhancing research relationships and participation/collaboration should go beyond Indigenous communities to community-based research more generally.

Questions that apply to this article:

1. The relationship between the researcher and the “researched” lies at the very center of qualitative research. How do you, as a researcher, conceptualize this?

2. What factors do you think contribute to healthy workable research relationships?

3. What, in your mind, could be problematic research relationships? Explain.


Article 3

Roulston, K. & Shelton, S. A. (2015). Reconceptualizing Bias in Teaching Qualitative Research Methods. Qualitative Inquiry, 21(4), 332-342.

Researchers who have been prepared in positivist traditions to social research frequently equate “subjectivity” with “bias,” which is viewed as both a problem to be managed and a threat to the credibility of a study. This article revisits the methodological literature to examine how bias has been understood in qualitative inquiry. The authors argue for an approach to teaching qualitative research methods that assists students to make sense of long-standing and new debates related to “bias” and reconceptualize it in relation to their work. Recommendations are provided for how teachers of qualitative inquiry might do this and illustrate these strategies with examples drawn from methodological reflections completed by a graduate student taking qualitative coursework.

Questions that apply to this article:

1. Can we equate bias with subjectivity?

2. How do we account for bias in qualitative research?

3. Explain the concept of “reflexivity” with regard qualitative research.


Article 4

Doyle, S. (2013). Reflexivity and the Capacity to Think. Qualitative Health Research, 23(2), 248-255

Reflexivity is fundamental to qualitative health research, yet notoriously difficult to “unpack”. Drawing on Wilfred Bion’s work on the development of the capacity to think and to learn, the author shows how the capacity to think is an impermanent and fallible capacity. He uses this conceptualization together with examples from published interview data to illustrate the difficulties for researchers attempting to sustain a reflexive approach, and to direct attention toward the possibilities for recovering and supporting the capacity to think. The author counters some of the criticisms suggesting that reflexivity can be self-indulgent. In the concluding discussions he acknowledges tensions accompanying the use of psychoanalytic theories for research purposes, and points to emerging psychosocial approaches as one way of negotiating these.

Questions that apply to this article:

1. What does it mean to be reflexive?

2. What does this author see as the difficulties associated with reflexivity?

3. What does this author mean by “recovering and supporting the capacity to think”?


Article 5

Bendassolli, P. F. (2014). Reconsidering theoretical naiveté in psychological qualitative research. Social Science Information, 53(2) 163–179.

This article proposes a reconsideration of the view that, in order to better grasp the objects of study, qualitative researchers should bracket their preconceived ideas, particularly their theoretical assumptions. This view has led to the advocacy of theoretical naïveté in the context of research, particularly in qualitative settings. The author argues that such naïveté presupposes a simplistic dichotomy between theory and empirical data and, therefore, drawing from current developments in the philosophy of science, he proposes reconsidering the view of theoretical naïveté in light of the distinction between theory, phenomena, and data. After discussing approaches that do not recognize the phenomenon as a mediator between theory and data or that do so only partially, an approach is proposed that explicitly assigns a mediating role to phenomena. The article concludes with a discussion of the implications that substantive rehabilitation of theory in the construction of scientific phenomena will have for qualitative research in general and for psychology in particular.

Questions that apply to this article:

1. What is meant by “theoretical naiveté”?

2. What is the role of theory in qualitative research?

3. What role do you think theory will play in your study?

4. What is the role of “phenomena” in qualitative research?


Article 6

Mannay, D.,  & Morgan, M. (2015). Doing ethnography or applying qualitative technique? Reflections from the waiting field. Qualitative Research, 15(2) 166–182.

Contemporary social science research is often concerned to engage with and promote particular forms of postmodern and innovative data production, such as photo-elicitation, autoethnography or free association interviews. This fascination with the latest and greatest techniques has been accompanied by an ever more fragmented range of research methods training for students. This individualisation of techniques has set up rival camps and critiques where the common ground of being embedded in traditional ethnography is often forgotten. For researchers who began their academic careers in the ethnographic tradition, there is an appreciation of the holistic base of enquiry from which a family of methods can be effectively employed. However, more recently qualitative researchers have been distracted by ‘the technique’; a distraction that can blind them to the occupation of ethnography. Concurrently, there have been shifts in the social and economic expectations placed on qualitative inquiry that have acted to close down spaces of ethnographic teaching and practice. In response, this article focuses on the importance of the ‘waiting field’; an opportunity to explore the times where real lives carry on before they make room for the intrusion of the data production of ‘the technique’ and remind us that much qualitative research is, in fact, an ethnographic undertaking: one that encompasses the researcher within and beyond the field.

Questions that apply to this article:

1. How would you describe “Postmodernism”?

2. What is meant by postmodern qualitative research?

3. In what ways does traditional ethnography differ from postmodern ethnography?


Article 7

DeMeulenaere , E. J. & Cann, C. N. (2013). Activist Educational Research. Qualitative Inquiry, 19(8) 552-565.

In the field of education, critical theorists, critical pedagogues, and critical race theorists call for academics to engage in activist academic work to promote the social transformation of the material conditions created by racism and other forms of oppression. This article is a response to this call for academics, particularly those in the field of education, to confront inequities resulting from intersecting oppressions such as heterosexism, racism, and sexism as well as to take action to create a more socially just world. Using two years of fieldnotes and interactive interviews, the article presents a critical co-constructed autoethnography that reviews literature on activist research, offers a critical analysis of the authors’ own efforts at activist research, and provides a framework for reflecting on the impact of different types of activist research, particularly in the field of education.

Questions that apply to this article:

1. Where does activist academic work fit within the field of qualitative research?

2. How can action research be applied to activist work?

3. Explain critical theory and critical pedagogy.


Article 8

Charmaz, K. (2014).  Grounded Theory in Global Perspective: Reviews by International Researchers. Qualitative Inquiry, 20(9), 1074-1084.

This article locates grounded theory in its national, historical, and disciplinary origins and explores how and to what extent these origins affect research practice across the globe. The article presents a conversation with international researchers who review using grounded theory in their countries and cultures. Their reviews reveal the significance of (a) shared meanings, (b) contradictions between data collection techniques and cultural practices, (c) tensions between coding in English and native languages, (d) points of cultural convergence and grounded theory strategies, and (e) local constraints. In conclusion, the article calls for attending to how the national and cultural underpinnings of methodological approaches affect inquiry.

Questions that apply to this article:

1. What is the history of grounded theory?

2. What is the current landscape of grounded theory?

3. How, according to this author, do national and cultural underpinnings affect inquiry?


Article 9

Levin, M. (2012). Academic integrity in action research. Action Research, 10(2) 133–149.

This article attends to how claims for rigor and relevance can be met in action research (AR). High degree of relevance emanates from the focus on solving pertinent problems. Academic integrity is introduced as the issue that is essential for shaping research of high rigor from AR, and it is conceptualized as the combination of formal (substantive and methodological) research skills, strategic political capacity, and the ethical and moral stature necessary to argue and act for seeking the best possible understanding (truth). The point of departure is a discussion of the critique that has been raised of AR, and the article suggests that through a discussion of what is the essence of social science research, the solution may be found in the formation process ‘Bildung’ of action researchers. The final sections of the article introduce four factors that would support high rigor and trustworthiness in writing scientific texts for communicating research findings: research partnering; controlling biases; standardized methods; and alternative explanations.

Questions that may apply to this article:

1. What is the major critique of action research with regard rigor?

2. What does the author suggest as appropriate standards or criteria for rigor with regard action research?

3. What is meant by “integrity” in action research?

4. Explain the concept of “bildung”, and how this relates to integrity and rigor.


Article 10

Pascal, J., Johnson, N., & Dore, C., (2011). The Lived Experience of Doing Phenomenology: Perspectives from Beginning Health Science Postgraduate Researchers. Qualitative Social Work, 10(2), 172-189.

This article provides an account of the lived experience of undertaking phenomenological research. Three postgraduate health science researchers and their supervisor share their experiences of understanding phenomenological theory, study design, and application of phenomenological principles pertaining to a range of research topics. The article commences with the theoretical context; however, the main intention is to reveal the development of the students’ thinking and experience of doing phenomenological research. Such revelations are intended to encourage future social work and health science postgraduate researchers to consider phenomenology as having direct practical application for real life experience.

Questions that apply to this article:

1. What are the main challenges in conducting a phenomenological study?

2. What skills should a qualitative researcher bring to the table to conduct a phenomenological study?

3. Having read this article, what questions remain for you?

Chapter 4: A First Step: Developing Your Proposal

Article 1

Reybold, L. E.,  Lammert, J. D., &  Stribling, S. M. (2013). Participant selection as a conscious research method: thinking forward and the deliberation of ‘Emergent’ findings. Qualitative Research, 13(6), 699-716.

Participant selection is one of the most invisible and least critiqued methods in qualitative circles. Researchers do not just collect and analyze neutral data; they decide who matters as data. Each choice repositions inquiry, closing down some opportunities while creating others. These authors present critical vignettes of their selection choices in three separate studies, examining how those choices directed meaning making within and beyond the studies. The analysis across these vignettes uncovers a constant interface—and often a struggle—between personal situations and social agendas as qualitative researchers. Four aspects of this Reporting In/Reporting Out tension are discussed: trusting qualitative research, building the story, dealing with powerful others, and accepting unintended consequences. The authors encourage qualitative researchers to critically think forward their selection choices before and during the research process, and to be mindful that selection is a constitutive method of the data collection and analysis process.

Questions that apply to this article:

1. What type of sampling procedure does qualitative research employ, and what are the implications of this procedure?

2. Why is participant selection so critical in qualitative research?

3.  What are the potential dangers and/or limitations inherent in purposeful participant selection, and how can researcher address these dangers and/or limitations?


Article 2

Vainio, A. (2013). Beyond research ethics: anonymity as ‘ontology’, ‘analysis’ and ‘independence’. Qualitative Research, 13(6) 685-698.

Anonymity-- its desirability and perceived difficulty-- divides the domain of qualitative research. This article illustrates that such divisions are associated with discrepancies in assumptions about what the power relations between the researcher and the researched, as well as the desired goals of the research, should be. This article questions the assumption that anonymity is necessary only for ethical reasons and identifies three additional functions of it in qualitative research: anonymity as ‘ontology’, anonymity as ‘analysis’ and anonymity as ‘independence’. First, ontologically, anonymity is a way of turning into ‘data’ what someone has said or written. Second, anonymization as ‘analysis’ turns the participants into examples of specific theoretical categories, and as such is a part of the data analysis. Third, anonymity as ‘independence’ enables the researcher to interpret the data irrespective of the participants’ wishes. In conclusion, it is argued that anonymizing research participants has an influence on the overall quality of research and therefore is also useful when no ethical risks are perceived, when participants wish not to remain anonymous or when their anonymity cannot be guaranteed.

Questions that apply to this article:

1. What are some of the central ethical considerations involved in qualitative research?

2. Are you familiar with Institutional Review Board (IRB) requirements?

3. What are the IRB stipulations regarding confidentiality, and anonymity?


Article 3

Murray, L., Pushor, D., &  Renihan, P. (2012). Reflections on the Ethics-Approval Process. Qualitative Inquiry, 18(1), 43-54.

It is sometimes a difficult journey receiving ethics approval for research involving vulnerable populations, research involving children, or innovative research methodologies such as autoethnography. This autoethnographical account is a story about one student who wanted to write a PhD dissertation in a very different way and also the story of her co-supervisors who supported the student in using autoethnography as a creative way to share her “secrets of mothering” and who also supported her through an ethics-approval process that was both challenging and rewarding. The article reflects on a personal journey through the ethics-approval process, and asks the questions: What is the purpose of research and how can research ethics boards support research and stories that are difficult to tell and difficult to hear? It is an inquiry into secrets and difficult knowledge, and how reluctant we are to talk about difficult topics such as developmental disabilities, sexual abuse, divorce, accidents, and illness.

Questions that apply to this article:

1. What are the ethical issues involved in researching vulnerable populations?

2. How can these issues be addressed?

3. What stance should you, as a qualitative researcher, take in maintaining the highest codes of ethical conduct?


Article 4

Tilley, L. & Woodthorpe, K. (2011). Is it the end for anonymity as we know it? A critical examination of the ethical principle of anonymity in the context of 21st century demands on the qualitative researcher. Qualitative Research, 11(2), 197-212

This article is an examination of contemporary challenges posed when dealing with the ethical principle of anonymity in qualitative research, specifically at the point of dissemination. Drawing on their respective doctoral experience and literature exploring the difficulties that can arise from the application of anonymity with regard to historical and geographical contexts, the authors question the applicability of the principle of anonymity alongside pressures to disseminate widely. In so doing, the article considers anonymity in relation to the following: demonstrating value for money to funders; being accountable to stakeholders; involvement in knowledge transfer; and the demands of putting as much information ‘out there’ as possible, particularly on the internet. In light of these pressures, the authors suggest that the standard of anonymity in the context of the 21st century academic world may need to be rethought.

Questions that apply to this article:

1. What new demands confront the qualitative researcher regarding ethical anonymity when it comes to disseminating findings?

2. What do these authors suggest regarding protecting the identity of human subjects in qualitative research?

3. How does the researcher balance being accountable to stakeholders and maintaining ethical standards regarding research participants? What types of action can be taken to safeguard anonymity of research participants?

4. What are the implications of “putting information out there” on the internet?


Article 5

Shaw, I. (2008). Ethics and the Practice of Qualitative Research. Qualitative Social Work, 7(4), 400-414.

This article stems from a concern that relying only on codes of research ethics risks compartmentalizing ethical aspects of research, and shutting them off into a preamble to research. The article explores ways in which the practice of qualitative research ethics is presented afresh – and contextualized in distinct forms – at every stage of research. The author develops three linked arguments. First, the ethics of qualitative research design pose distinctive demands on principles of informed consent, con?dentiality and privacy, social justice, and practitioner research. The focus is on consent – for its topicality, not because it is more important or dif?cult – and social justice. Second, ?eldwork ethics raise special considerations regarding power, reciprocity and contextual relevance. Third, ethical issues raised by the analysis and uses of qualitative inquiry evoke questions regarding the ethics of narrative research and the utilization of such research.

Questions that apply to this article:

1. What new learning regarding ethics in qualitative research do you come away with?

2. What was most surprising to you about this article?

3. Do you think there may be instances when consent is not possible?

Chapter 5: Introduction to Your Study

Article 1

Sandberg, J. & Alvesson, M. (2011). Ways of constructing research questions: gap-spotting or problematization? Organization, 18(1), 23-44.

This article examines ways of constructing research questions from existing literature. The authors review 52 articles in organization studies and develop a typology of how researchers construct their research questions from existing literature. The most common way across research paradigms is to spot various ‘gaps’ in the literature and, based on that, to formulate specific research questions. The dominance of gap-spotting is surprising, given it is increasingly recognized that theory is made interesting and influential when it challenges assumptions that underlie existing literature. The article proposes some ways of constructing research questions that move beyond gap-spotting, and discusses how these ways are likely to promote more interesting and significant theories.

Questions that apply to this article:

1. What are some of the key challenges in developing research questions?

2. What key insights do you come away with?

3. What questions are you still left with in regard to the development of research questions?

Chapter 6: Developing and Presenting Your Literature Review

Article 1

Fawcett, J. (2013). Thoughts about conceptual models, theories, and literature reviews. Nursing Science Quarterly, 26(3) 285–288.

This article focuses on various types of literature reviews, including scoping reviews, realist reviews, and integrative reviews. As contributions to understanding the state of nursing science about a particular topic, each literature review should be but rarely is guided by a nursing conceptual model, and the research findings should be but rarely are interpreted as theories that were generated or tested. Examples that are exceptions to usual literature reviews are provided.

Questions that apply to this article:

1. The author talks of various types of literature reviews. What are some of the key differences between them?

2. What , according to this author, is the function of a literature review?

3. What is “meta-synthesis” and “meta-summary”, and what are the differences between them?


Article 2

Rocco, T. S. & Plakhotnik, M. S (2009). Literature reviews, conceptual frameworks, and theoretical frameworks: Terms, functions, and distinctions. Human Resource Development Review, 8(1), 120-130.

This article begins with a discussion of the literature review, theoretical framework, and conceptual framework as components of a manuscript. The discussion includes similarities and distinctions among these components and their relation to other sections of a manuscript such as the problem statement, discussion, and implications. The article concludes with an overview of the literature review, theoretical framework, and conceptual framework as separate types of manuscripts. Understanding similarities and differences among the literature review, theoretical framework, and conceptual framework can help novice and experienced researchers in organizing, conceptualizing, and conducting their research, whether qualitative, quantitative, or mixed-methods.

Questions that apply to this article:

1. What are the key components of a literature review as outlined in this article?

2. What is the relationship of the literature review to other sections of the dissertation?

3. What is the relationship of the literature review to the conceptual framework?

4. What new insights do you come away with after reading this article regarding the role and function of a conceptual framework vis-à-vis the literature review and the research project overall?


Article 3

Freer, P. K. & Barker, A. (2008). An instructional approach for improving the writing of literature reviews. Journal of Music Teacher Education, 17(2), 69-82.

The authors engaged in a team-teaching approach to foster improvements in the writing and evaluation of scholarly literature reviews by their graduate students in music education. A focal point of the semester-long project was the analysis and public critique of each author’s dissertation literature review by the other author, using a variant of a rubric for evaluating literature reviews by Boote and Beile. Students further refined the rubric by evaluating literature reviews in current music education journals and then used the rubric to guide their own writing. Student reflections and responses were gathered through questionnaires and interviews, with indications that the process had a twofold effect: (a) improved skills in conceptualizing, writing, and analyzing literature reviews and (b) increased collegiality as students perceived their instructors as peer scholars.

Questions that apply to this article:

1. What do you think are the biggest challenges in writing a literature review?

2. What is the function of a literature review?

3. What is meant by “synthesis” and how does this differ from “summary”?


Article 4

Boote, D. N., & Beile, P. (2005). Scholars Before Researchers: On the Centrality of the Dissertation Literature Review in Research Preparation. Educational Researcher, 34(6), 3-15.

A thorough, sophisticated literature review is the foundation and inspiration for substantial, useful research. The complex nature of education research demands such thorough, sophisticated reviews. Although doctoral education is a key means for improving education research, the literature has given short shrift to the dissertation literature review. This article suggests criteria to evaluate the quality of dissertation literature reviews and reports a study that examined dissertations at three universities. Acquiring the skills and knowledge required to be education scholars, able to analyze and synthesize the research in a field of specialization, should be the focal, integrative activity of pre-dissertation doctoral education. Such scholarship is a prerequisite for increased methodological sophistication and for improving the usefulness of education research.

Questions that apply to this article:

1. What do you understand by the statement: “Doctoral students must be scholars before they are researchers”?

2. What do you think is the role and purpose of the literature review in educational research?

3. What do you see as the function of the literature review vis-à-vis analysis of findings?

Chapter 7: Presenting Methodology and Research Approach

Article 1

Roer-Streier, D., & Sands, R. G. (2015). Moving beyond the ‘official story’: when ‘others’ meet in a qualitative interview. Qualitative Research,15(2), 251-268.

This article examines the qualitative interview as a site for meetings between interviewers and interviewees from groups that are in conflict. It illustrates how interviewees who initially resisted participation and voiced what one called the ‘official story’ of her group moved beyond this position enabling the encounter to become a meaningful experience for both parties. This critical case analysis is based on three interviews from three different studies and follow-up interviews with interviewers and interviewees. The article describes six phases of the encounters found in all the interviews (on guard, the ‘official story’, expert position, confrontation, looking for common grounds, and beyond the ‘official story’) and explores the conditions that brought about bidirectional communication and intimacy. The findings are discussed in light of current debates around reflexivity, positionality, and power relations in qualitative interviewing. Importantly, the article highlights the importance of the historical and political contexts.

Questions that apply to this article:

1. What are the key aspects of qualitative interviewing?

2. What might be the limitations of interviews for qualitative research?

3. What is meant by “reflexivity” in qualitative research, and how can the researcher address this?


Article 2

Belzile, J. A. & Öberg, G (2012). Where to begin? Grappling with how to use participant interaction in focus group design. Qualitative Research, 12(4), 459-472.

Participant interaction is said to be the hallmark of the focus group method, but it is often suggested that the defining feature of the method is virtually absent in most focus group research. The authors’ meta-analysis of this debate over participant interaction in the focus group literature suggests that absence of interaction data reflects a philosophical position, rather than neglect. As the authors explain, participant interaction is treated differently in different types of research, reflecting a tacit division between researchers who view the participants primarily as individuals sharing held truths and those who view them as social beings co-constructing meaning while in the focus group. An argument is made that the treatment of participant interaction needs to be a conscious and explicit design decision – one clearly rooted in a theoretical perspective and best suited to the research purpose. While exploring this issue, these authors discuss how a researcher’s lens affects how they deal with the interaction of participants, what they view as strengths and limitations of the method, and what kinds of results they end up with. An overview of alternative approaches to participant interaction is provided, and strategies from different disciplines for analyzing interaction are offered.

Questions that may apply to this article:

1. Participant interaction is said to be the hallmark of the focus group method. What are the key strengths of participant interaction?

2. What are some of the limitations participant interaction in conducting focus groups?

3. What skills are needed on the part of the researcher to  (a) manage and (b) optimize participant interaction in focus groups?


Article 3

Jacobsson K., & Åkerström, M. (2013). Interviewees with an agenda: learning from a ‘failed’ interview.  Qualitative Research, 13(6), 717-734.

Social constructionists consider interviews as mutually co-constructing meaning. But what if the interlocutors do not seem to agree on what they construct? What if the interviewee has a particularly strong agenda, far from the intended research topic? Are these ‘failed’ interviews? The authors address this issue using a ‘deviant’ interview in a study of ‘being a neighbor’. First, they add to the discussion of interviewees’ category representativeness by acknowledging a situation when the interviewee insists on representing a category not intended by the researcher. Second, they address the notion of asymmetries of power, where it is often assumed that the interviewer has the upper hand. Through this case, the authors argue that the opposite may well be true. Finally, they argue that cases where the interviewee pursues a strong agenda may suggest new research areas. After all, strong efforts of resistance may indicate deeper cultural concerns.

Questions that apply to this article:

1. Describe issues of power and positionality vis-à-vis qualitative data gathering?

2. What are the potential problems associated with semi-structured interviews?

3. How can these potential problems best be addressed?

4. What would you consider a “failed interview”, and how would you address this in your research?


Article 4

Sinha, S., &  Back, L. (2014). Making methods sociable: dialogue, ethics and authorship in qualitative research. Qualitative Research, 14(4) 473-487.

The article argues for fostering sociable forms of dialogue in qualitative research. Conventional research shares an emphasis on extracting narratives with judicial and invasive state modes of enquiry rather than on learning from a genuine two-way dialogue between participants and researchers. Using a study of young migrants, the authors show how involving participants as observers and shapers of analytical dialogue can produce circulations of communication, thereby producing new insight, beyond the limits of qualitative investigation. This has consequences for rethinking authorship that share, credit and specify responsibility. Developing such an approach opposes the ‘ethical hypochondria’ characterizing qualitative research culture, where ‘automatic anonymity’ is limiting the potential of research to connect people and engage the public imagination.

Questions that apply to this article:

1. Why is it important to foster sociable forms of dialogue in qualitative research?

2. Why is it important to involve research participants as “observers and shapers” in the research process?

3. What are the implications regarding trustworthiness, of adopting a more interactive approach to data gathering and data analysis?


Article 5

Kuntz, A. M., &  Presnall, M. M. (2012). Wandering the Tactical: From Interview to Intraview Qualitative Inquiry, 18(9), 732-744.

This article addresses the simplistic use of the interview as a methodological technique that abstracts the humanist subject as an object for analysis. Rather than simply a tool of inquiry, these authors present the interview as a wholly engaged encounter; a means for making accessible the multiple intersections of material context that collude in productive formations of meaning. In this process, they hope to indicate the possibility for the interview to function as intervention at the level of what Michel de Certeau terms the tactical. As such, the research process may include, adjacent to and alongside the proper artifact of the transcript, the material basis of its metaphors, affecting and affected by the meanings made possible in the design, encounter, and interpretation of the interview. The authors point to the possibilities inherent in embodied metaphor and indirect logic formations as a means to better understand daily practices and expressions of tactical resistance.

Questions that apply to this article:

1. As these authors explain, the interview in qualitative research is not just a data collection tool; it is a “methodological technique”. Explain.

2. In what ways do you see the interview as an “intra-action”?

3. Seen as an “intra-action”, what are the associated implications and applications of interviews in qualitative research?

Article 6

Hoskins, M. L., & White, J. (2013). Relational Inquiries and the Research Interview: Mentoring Future Researchers. Qualitative Inquiry, 19(3) 179-188.

The article describes some of the challenges and constraints that students face when they engage in qualitative research interviews. The authors begin by identifying what they believe are the main challenges facing novice qualitative researchers. Issues of professional identities, objectivity, relational engagement, and inherited understandings of what counts as research are highlighted. This article will be useful for graduate students engaged in narrative, ethnographic, and auto-ethnographic methodologies as well as other inquiries that require deeply relational processes. Included are recommendations for supervisory conversations.

Questions that apply to this article:

1. What are some of the challenges and constraints to be aware of in embarking on qualitative research interviews?

2. Describe issues regarding subjectivity.

3. Describe issues regarding relational engagement.


Article 7

Allen, M. D. (2014). Telephone focus groups: Strengths, challenges, and strategies for success. Qualitative Social Work, 13(4), 571-583.

Telephone focus groups offer an alternative to the limitations of traditional face-to-face focus groups for conducting research with rural research participants or those who are unable to meet in a common location. Identified strengths of telephone focus groups include: the ability to engage participants that are geographically dispersed; an opportunity for participants to connect with those who they would unlikely meet otherwise; and the ability to conduct focus groups with a lower cost and increased participation rate. Despite the usefulness of telephone focus groups, this methodology may present challenges with the participation and engagement of focus group members. Using the example of a telephone focus group study of early childhood mental health consultants, this article introduces procedures for overcoming the challenges of telephone focus group participation and engagement, and it analyzes the effectiveness of those procedures for improving the participation and engagement of focus group members.

Questions that apply to this article:

1. What are the advantages of telephone focus groups?

2. What are the disadvantages or limitations associated with telephone focus groups?

3. What are your key takeaways from the present study?


Article 8

Roulston, K. (2010). Considering quality in qualitative interviewing. Qualitative Research, 10(2), 199-228.

Within the field of qualitative inquiry, there has been considerable discussion around how ‘quality’ might be demonstrated by researchers in reports of studies. With the growth in the application of qualitative methods in social research, along with the proliferation of texts available to qualitative researchers over the last four decades, there has been increasing diversity in how quality has been demonstrated in reports. This article focuses on the use of qualitative interviews in research studies, arguing that researchers must demonstrate the quality of their work in ways that are commensurate with their assumptions about their use of interviews. The author sketches a number of possibilities for how qualitative interviews might be theorized, and shows the different ways in which quality might be demonstrated from each perspective. The author proposes this typology as one means by which novice researchers might begin to work through design decisions involved in the process of proposal writing, the conduct of interview studies, and the writing up and representation of findings.

Questions that apply to this article:

1. How do you describe quality with regard qualitative interviewing?

2. What are the key challenges inherent in interviewing?

3. What new insights do you come away with after reading this article?

Chapter 8: Analyzing Data and Reporting Findings

Article 1

Hannes, K., & Macaitis, K. (2012). A move to more systematic and transparent approaches in qualitative evidence synthesis: update on a review of published papers. Qualitative Research, 12(4) 402-442.

In 2007, the journal Qualitative Research published a review on qualitative evidence syntheses conducted between 1988 and 2004. It reported on the lack of explicit detail regarding methods for searching, appraisal and synthesis, and a lack of emerging consensus on these issues. This article presents an update of this review for the period 2005–8. Not only has the amount of published qualitative evidence syntheses doubled, but authors have also become more transparent about their searching and critical appraisal procedures. Nevertheless, for the synthesis component of the qualitative reviews, a “black box” remains between what people claim to use as a synthesis approach and what is actually done in practice. Clear methodological instructions need to be developed to assist others in applying these synthesis methods.

Questions that apply to this article:

1. What is meant by “synthesis” in qualitative analysis?

2. How does data synthesis differ from synthesis of findings?

3. What are the different methods of  “evidence synthesis” as described by Hannes and Macaitis?

4. What do you understand as the “black box” phenomenon with regard data analysis, and how can this be overcome?


Article 2

Buckley, C. A. & Waring, M. J. (2013). Using diagrams to support the research process: examples from grounded theory. Qualitative Research, 13(2) 148-172.

Despite their potential for yielding an understanding of the conceptualization being developed, diagrams remain one of the least utilized tools in the analytical process. They have been used by interpretive investigators at various stages of the research process, for example, as artifacts to stimulate discussion in interviews, assisting the researcher in formulating ideas, refining conceptualizations in the process of theory building and communicating ideas to others. This article has two main objectives: first, to begin to explore some of the intricacies associated with the use of diagrams in grounded theory, and second, to use case study material from two separate projects, which adopted individual approaches to grounded theory, to investigate young peoples’ attitudes towards physical activity; it outlines the ways in which diagrams and drawings were used differently by researchers at various stages to support the research process and ongoing analysis of data.

Questions that apply to this article:

1. These authors state that despite their potential for yielding an understanding of the conceptualization being developed, diagrams remain one of the least utilized tools in the analytical process. How do you plan to use diagrams to present findings in your study?

2. Do you think that diagrams (tables and charts) are an effective way of conveying findings? Why?

3. What kinds of visual presentation appeals to you when reading through other studies? Why are they appealing?

4. What kinds of visual presentation have been unappealing to you when reading through other studies? Why do you find them unappealing?


Article 3

Carrera-Fernández, M., Guàrdia-Olmos, J., &  Peró-Cebollero, M. (2014). Qualitative methods of data analysis in psychology: an analysis of the literature. Qualitative Research, 14(1), 20-36.

In this article, the authors present a general overview of the state of qualitative research in psychology by analyzing publications found in the Institute for Scientific Information’s Web of Science database. The objective is to provide a global perspective on the use of qualitative methods in data analysis and the frequency with which they are used in the journals. In total, 4840 articles were analyzed. The authors used bibliometrics methods to describe the publication patterns, and found a considerable increase throughout the 1990s in the number of publications using qualitative methods. Specifically,content analysis, grounded theory and discourse analysis steadily increased. The data obtained seem to indicate that qualitative research publications will continue increasing in the coming years.

Questions that apply to this article:

1. Describe the historical development of qualitative data analysis.

2. What are the major influences involved in this development?

3. What, currently, are the key methods of qualitative data analysis?


Article 4

Finfgeld-Connett, D. (2014). Use of content analysis to conduct knowledge-building and theory-generating qualitative systematic reviews. Qualitative Research, 14(3), 341-352.

Findings from knowledge-building and theory-generating qualitative systematic reviews have the potential to help guide policy formation and practice in many disciplines. Unfortunately, this potential is currently hindered by the fact that rigorous data analysis methods have not been consistently used and/or articulated for purposes of conducting these types of reviews. Content analysis is a flexible data analysis method that can be used to conduct qualitative systematic reviews; however, its application in this context has not been fully explicated. Qualitative systematic reviewers who aim to build knowledge and generate theory are urged to adapt content analysis methods to accommodate data that are, by nature, highly organized and contextualized. In addition, they are encouraged to use reflective memo and diagramming to ensure credible integration, interpretation, and synthesis of findings across studies. Finally, reviewers are advised to clearly and fully explain their data analysis methods in research reports.

Questions that apply to this article:

1. How does content analysis differ from qualitative data analysis?

2. How does the author describe the process of qualitative content analysis?

3. What does this author suggest are the potential difficulties in using content analysis in qualitative research?

4. How can these difficulties be addressed and overcome?


Article 5

Brinkmann, S. (2014). Doing Without Data. Qualitative Inquiry, 20(6), 720-725.

Coding and data are conceptual twins. This article focuses on the latter concept in particular and opens with a dilemma: We can either follow the root meaning of “data” and say that they are the “givens” that we “collect” and code. In this case, however, data turn out to be mythological, for they are always produced, constructed, or “taken” as the pragmatists said. Or we can say, like some qualitative researchers, that “everything is data,” which rests on a more sophisticated philosophical position but which easily renders the concept empty. The article describes a way out of this dilemma by presenting a way to think about (and teach) qualitative analysis that is neither data-driven (induction) nor hypothesisdriven (deduction) but driven by astonishment, mystery, and breakdowns in one’s understanding (abduction).

Questions that apply to this article:

1. The author states “Coding and data are conceptual twins”. Explain.

2. Can we do qualitative data analysis without coding? Why or why not? Explain.

3. Explain inductive, deductive, and abductive forms of analysis.


Article 6

Staller, K. M. (2015). Qualitative analysis: The art of building bridging relationships. Qualitative Social Work, 14(2), 145-153.

“Every existence has its idiom, every thing has an idiom and tongue; He resolves all tongues into his own, and bestows it upon men, and any man translates, and any man translates himself also: One part does not counteract another part, He is the joiner, he sees how they join.” – Walt Whitman, 1855

Questions that apply to this article:

1. What does the author mean by the “black hole of qualitative analysis”?

2. Why does this author see coding as a problem? Do you agree? Why or why not?

3. What is meant by “building bridging relationships”?


Article 7

Sandelowski, M., & Leeman, J. (2012). Writing Usable Qualitative Health Research Findings. Qualitative Health Research, 22(10), 1404-1413.

Scholars in diverse health-related disciplines and specialty fields of practice routinely promote qualitative research as an essential component of intervention and implementation programs of research and of a comprehensive evidence base for practice. Remarkably little attention, however, has been paid to the most important element of qualitative studies—the findings in reports of those studies—and specifically to enhancing the accessibility and utilization value of these findings for diverse audiences of users. The findings in reports of qualitative health research are too often difficult to understand and even to find owing to the way they are presented. A basic strategy for enhancing the presentation of these findings is to translate them into thematic statements, which can in turn be translated into the language of intervention and implementation. Writers of qualitative health research reports might consider these strategies better to showcase the significance and application of findings to a wider audience.

Questions that apply to this article:

1. The findings in reports of qualitative health research are often difficult to understand in the way they are presented. This is very significant. Have you experienced this in your research experience?

2. The author suggests a strategy for enhancing the presentation of findings is to translate them into thematic statements. Does this resonate with your own research?

3. What strategies have you used (or that you intend to use) to enhance the presentation of your study’s findings?


Article 8

Waite, D. (2011). A Simple Card Trick: Teaching Qualitative Data Analysis Using a Deck of Playing Cards. Qualitative Inquiry, 17(10), 982-985,

This article describes a lesson the author uses to teach qualitative data analysis. Data sorting and categorization, the use of tacit and explicit theory in data analysis, and discrepant case analysis can be illustrated though use of a standard deck of playing cards. As the author suggests, the use of playing cards appeals to those who learn best kinesthetically and is a welcome break from lecture-oriented, didactic teaching. It mirrors data sorting by hand and allows the instructor to highlight the importance of play in qualitative research.

Questions that apply to this article:

1. What are the main lessons to be learned about qualitative research from this article?

2. How would you describe qualitative data analysis to somebody who is unfamiliar with qualitative research?

3. If you were teaching qualitative research would you adopt this method? Why or why not?


Article 9

Maxwell, J. A. (2010). Using Numbers in Qualitative Research. Qualitative Inquiry, 16(6), 475-482.

The use of numerical/quantitative data in qualitative research studies and reports has been controversial. Prominent qualitative researchers such as Howard Becker and Martyn Hammersley have supported the inclusion of what Becker called “quasi-statistics”; simple counts of things to make statements such as “some,” “usually,” and “most” more precise. However, others have resisted such uses. This paper presents both the advantages of integrating quantitative information in qualitative data collection, analysis, and reporting, and the potential problems created by such uses and how these can be dealt with. It also addresses the definition of mixed methods research, arguing that the use of numbers by itself doesn't make a study “mixed methods.”

Questions that apply to this article:

1. What, according to Maxwell, are the benefits of integrating quantitative information in qualitative studies?

2. How does the author define Mixed Methods Research?

3. What is the author’s rationale for negating the claim that the use of numbers makes a study “Mixed Methods”. What are your thoughts on this issue?


Article 10

Lewis, P. J. (2011). Storytelling as Research/Research as Storytelling. Qualitative Inquiry, 17(6), 505-510.

If story is central to human meaning why, in the research world, is there not more storytelling? Walter Benjamin (1973) noted that, “a story is different. It does not expend itself. It preserves and concentrates its strength and is capable of releasing it even after a long time” (p. 90). This article points to the question: How might research not expend itself, but preserve and concentrate its strength?

Questions that apply to this article:

1. What are the key points made in this article?

2. What new insights have you come away with?

3. What is your view regarding the metaphor of “researcher as storyteller”? What other metaphors come to mind when you think of the qualitative researcher?


Article 11

St. Pierre, E. A. & Jackson, A. Y. (2014). Qualitative Data Analysis After Coding. Qualitative Inquiry, 20(6) 715–719. 

Data analysis has often been referred to as “the ‘black hole’ of qualitative research”. These authors are concerned about analysis that treats words (e.g., participants’ words in interview transcripts) as brute data waiting to be coded, labeled with other brute words (and even counted), perhaps entered into statistical programs to be manipulated by computers, and so on. Morover, in many cases, words are reduced to numbers. There are several problems in equating qualitative data analysis with coding, and these authors  briefly discuss some of these. They have identified at least two interlocking problems with what counts as data and how those data are collected. The first is that using presence as a criterion for quality, it is assumed that data collected face-to-face from participants are of high quality and worthy of collection and analysis, thereby counting some words as data but not others. Second, it is assumed that an empirical reality in which those words exist as brute data is  independent of the interpretive desires of the data “collector.” The authors point to numerous  theoretical perspectives that problematize not only what constitutes qualitative data analysis but also where and when it happens.

Questions that apply to this article:

1. Collecting data presumes we’ve already determined what counts as data. What are your views on this?

2. These authors state: “To code data, then one must assume that words textualized in interview transcripts and field notes are not only data but also brute data that can be broken apart and decontextualized by coding—even using existing coding schemes from others’ research projects. Once coded, words can be sorted into categories and then organized into “themes” that somehow naturally and miraculously “emerge” as if anyone could see them.” Do you agree? What are your views on this?

3. Which of the many theoretical perspectives mentioned in this paper resonate with you? Why?

Chapter 9: Analyzing and Interpreting Findings

Article 1

O’Dell, L., Crafter, S., de Abreu, G., &  Cline, T (2012). The problem of interpretation in vignette methodology in research with young people. Qualitative Research, 12: 702-714.

In this article, the authors explore how interpretation is dealt with by using vignettes. Researchers using vignette methodology often struggle with interpretation: how to interpret the responses when participants shift between discussing the vignettes as themselves, taking the perspective of the character in the vignette and commenting on what ‘ought’ to happen. The argument is made that by foregrounding a consideration of the method with an explicitly articulated theoretical position of dialogicality, issues inherent in interpretation become a valuable addition to the research rather than an obstacle to be overcome. The authors discuss ‘Louise’ a young carer, detailing the various positions she takes in her talk about the vignette of Mary, a fictitious young carer, to illustrate how a perspective based in dialogical theory contributes to the analysis of her various moves through different identity positions.

Questions that apply to this article:

1. What is meant by “interpretation” in qualitative research?

2. How can a researcher go about providing credible interpretations?

3. How would you describe vignette methodology, and what are the key advantages of this approach regarding presentation of qualitative research findings?


Article 2

Bartlett, R. (2013). Playing with meaning: using cartoons to disseminate research findings Qualitative Research, 13: 214-227

Cartoons are a ubiquitous form of visual communication. In this article, the potential of cartoons as a vehicle for processing and transmitting qualitative research findings is explored and some methodological advantages and concerns of using cartoons in this way are outlined. Discussion stems from a small-scale, experimental ‘knowledge transfer’ project located within a larger qualitative study about higher functioning men and women with dementia who campaign for social change. It concludes that cartooning can serve to bring to life in a playful way serious issues, but as form of visual communication, cartoons are not always appealing, and must therefore be used judiciously to disseminate research findings.

Questions that apply to this article:

1. Interpretation is about attaching “meaning” to your findings. What do you think of cartoons as a method of interpreting findings?

2. Do you agree, as this author suggests, that cartoons have the potential for presenting findings from scholarly research in a visually engaging way? Why or why not?

3. The intention of using cartoons as a form of visual communication is to stimulate critical thinking. What, if any, might be potential dangers or ethical issues in applying this method as a “playful approach” to interpretation?


Article 3

James, A. (2013). Seeking the analytic imagination: reflections on the process of interpreting qualitative data. Qualitative Research, 13: 562-577

In the light of the changing landscape of social research, this article explores the role of the analytic imagination in the process of qualitative data analysis. It argues that while team research, secondary data analysis and the use of computerized qualitative data analysis packages may be altering the ways in which research and analysis are carried out, this need not change the processes of interpretation that are at the heart of qualitative data analysis. Here, as the article explores, imaginative acts are key to the analytical craftsmanship involved in interpretive analysis. This a process is illustrated through the analysis of parent and child narratives gathered during a project about families and food.

Questions that apply to this article:

1. What, if at all, is the role of computerized data analysis packages in interpreting qualitative findings?

2. What do you think is key to interpretation of qualitative research findings?

3. What do you see as the major obstacles to credible interpretation of findings? How can these obstacles be overcome?


Article 4

Kinn, L.G., Holgersen, H., Ekeland, T., & Davidson, L. (2013). Metasynthesis and Bricolage: An Artistic Exercise of Creating a Collage of Meaning. Qualitative Health Research, 23: 1285-1292

During the past decades, new approaches to synthesizing qualitative data have been developed. However, this methodology continues to face significant philosophical and practical challenges. By reviewing the literature on this topic, our overall aim in this article is to explore the systematic and creative research processes involved in the act of meta-synthesizing. By investigating synthesizing processes borrowed from two studies, the authors discuss matters of transparency and transferability in relation to how multiple qualitative studies are interpreted and transformed into one narrative. They propose concepts such as bricolage, metaphor, playfulness, and abduction as ideas that might enhance understanding of the importance of combinations of scientific and artistic approaches to the way the synthesizer “puzzles together” an interpretive account of qualitative studies. This study can benefit researchers by increasing their awareness of the artistic processes involved in qualitative analysis and meta-synthesis to expand the domain and methods of their fields.

Questions that apply to this article:

1. Describe the various ways of synthesizing data as outlined by this author?

2. What is meant by “meta-synthesis”?

3. Explain concepts such as bricolage, metaphor, playfulness and abduction.


Article 5

Howell Major, C. & Savin-Baden, M. (2011). Integration of qualitative evidence: towards construction of academic knowledge in social science and professional fields. Qualitative Research, 11(6), 645-663.

This article presents an overview of the growing field of the integration of qualitative evidence. Based on an analysis of 177 syntheses published in a variety of professional and social science fields, the authors introduce a way of categorizing the various approaches that researchers use to combine evidence derived from primary qualitative studies. Finally, they argue for the place of a constructionist approach when synthesizing findings from primary qualitative research.

Questions that apply to this article:

1. What are some of the approaches used to combine evidence?

2. What do you understand by “synthesis”?

3. How and in what ways do you think that synthesis differs from summary?


Article 6

Ben-Ari, A., & Enosh, G. (2011). Processes of Reflectivity : Knowledge Construction in Qualitative Research. Qualitative Social Work. 10(2), 152-171.

The aim of this article is to suggest a useful approach demonstrating the focal role of processes of reflectivity in qualitative research. The authors distinguish between levels of analysis and analytical procedures for generating and organizing the interpretation of data and meanings in knowledge construction. They argue that reflective processes simultaneously involve both a state of mind and an active engagement. Within this context, reflective processes may refer to deliberate awareness involving both a contemplative stance (state of mind) and intentional activity aimed at recognizing differentness and generating knowledge (active engagement). The authors identify four levels of reflection: observation, informants’ accounts, text deliberation, and contextualization and reconstruction. Simultaneously, they suggest several practical analytical procedures of reflectivity, which emanate from a dialectical line of thinking, including figure and ground, pre-existing expectations, apparent contradictions and opposites, and turning points (epiphanies). The dialectical approach to qualitative inquiry presented here maintains that discrepancies and opposites found at one level of analysis may be reconciled at a higher level of conceptual integration. 

Questions that apply to this article:

1. What are some of the different levels of analysis mentioned in this article?

2. Describe the four levels of reflection, outlining the key differences among them.

3. The authors describe a dialectical approach to qualitative inquiry. How do you understand this approach, and what relevance does it have for you?


Article 7

Kaufmann, J. (2011). Poststructural Analysis: Analyzing Empirical Matter for New Meanings. Qualitative Inquiry, 17(2), 148-154.

How one makes meaning differs according to the theoretical perspective one employs. Aligning with a poststructural theoretical perspective, the author understands that meaning is stabilized by being organized according to the concepts available. By using the same concepts to stabilize meaning, qualitative researchers have the propensity to limit the possibilities of experience and knowledge. One way qualitative researchers can consciously work toward creating new meaning is to experiment with applying alternate concepts when analyzing empirical matter.

Questions that apply to this article:

1. How is meaning understood from a poststructural perspective?

2. Describe the ways in which the author outlines the three different ways of analyzing empirical matter.

3. What is your view on the ethics of poststructural analysis of empirical matter?


Article 8

Freeman, M. (2011). Validity in Dialogic Encounters With Hermeneutic Truths. Qualitative Inquiry , 17(6),  543-551.

Hermeneutic theories of interpretation are at the core of qualitative methodologies and can be identified as belonging to either epistemological or ontological philosophical orientations. Concerns about validity in qualitative research have mainly been shaped by epistemological questions. What differentiates philosophical hermeneutics, an ontological perspective, from traditional hermeneutics is its radical departure from finding a “technique” of interpretation to proposing a hermeneutic ontology, where the hermeneutic task of understanding is thought to be our very way of being in the world. Unlike traditional interpretive approaches which often seek to maximize credibility by eliciting a respondent’s account of an experience in a way that closely corresponds to that experience, philosophical hermeneutical approaches assert that the meaning of the experience is uniquely configured in the dialogic encounter itself. Dialogue is thought to offer a hermeneutic valence for people’s engagement with understanding and the means of encountering truth. Understanding, therefore, cannot be conceived of as a fixing of meaning but as an event in which meaning is generated and transformed. This article considers how philosophical hermeneutics might inform qualitative research when the aim is to understand.

Questions that apply to this article:

1. What do you understand by hermeneutic theories of interpretation?

2. Describe traditional interpretive approaches.

3. In what ways, if at all, does philosophical hermeneutics inform qualitative research?


Article 9

Vickers, M. H., (2010). The Creation of Fiction to Share Other Truths and Different Viewpoints: A Creative Journey and an Interpretive Process. Qualitative Inquiry  16(7), 556-565.

This article explores and shares the creative journey and interpretive process that the researcher experienced when creating fiction as a qualitative researcher. The author seeks to accomplish three objectives: (a) articulate the process of creation and interpretation; (b) revisit the burgeoning literature that argues for the use of fiction and other poetic, artistic writing as useful contributions to scholarly research; and (c) show how the creation of fiction can usefully show other truths and different viewpoints.

Questions that apply to this article:

1. Describe the author’s journey in creating fiction as a qualitative researcher.

2. Do you think that the author accomplished her three objectives? Why or why not?

3. What new insights have you come away with?


Article 10

Paulus, T. M.,  Woodside, M., & Ziegler, M. F. (2010). “I Tell You, It’s a Journey, Isn’t It?” Understanding Collaborative Meaning Making in Qualitative Research. Qualitative Inquiry, 16(10), 852-862.

While collaboration is common in qualitative inquiry, few studies examine the collaborative process in detail. In this study, the authors adopt an interpretive, reflexive stance to explore our process as a collaborative qualitative research team. They analyzed transcripts of eight research meetings for aspects and assumptions underlying their collaboration. Three overarching aspects of their process emerged from the analysis: position-taking, meaning making, and producing. The authors adopt a learning stance in their work together and make meaning through an iterative, dialogic process that foregrounds and backgrounds key elements of the research process. While some scholars have questioned whether truly collaborative research ever occurs among peers, this study illustrates through its findings what such a process can look like.

Questions that apply to this article:

1. What are your views on collaborative qualitative research?

2. What do you see as the value of collaboration in qualitative research?

3. What do you see as the limitations of collaboration in qualitative research?

Chapter 10: Drawing Trustworthy Conclusions and Presenting Actionable Recommendations

Article 1

Donmoyer, R. (2012). Can Qualitative Researchers Answer Policymakers’ What-Works Question? Qualitative Inquiry, 18(8), 662-673.

The article calls into question whether constructivist qualitative researchers have anything to offer policymakers who expect researchers to tell them what works. The first part of the article addresses philosophical objections to characterizing the social world in cause/effect terms. Specifically, it considers whether it is legitimate for qualitative researchers who claim to be employing a constructivist research paradigm to even attempt to provide the sort of simplified causal explanations that policy makers normally expect. The second part of the article takes a more empirical tack by focusing on three recent evaluation studies in which funders wanted to learn what types of programs they should support to produce desired results. The underlying question in this part of the article is pragmatic: Even if there is no paradigmatic prohibition against attempting to answer policymakers’ what-works question, are constructivist qualitative researchers able to answer policymakers’ bottom-line question in a defensible way?

Questions that apply to this article:

1. What are the implications of recommendations for policy?

2. How does the concept of causality fit with the overall recommendations of a qualitative study?

3. How does the concept of causality fit with policy recommendations in particular?


Article 2

Halkier, B. (2011). Methodological Practicalities in Analytical Generalization. Qualitative Inquiry, 17(9), 787-797.

This author argues that the existing literature on qualitative methodologies tend to discuss analytical generalization at a relatively abstract and general theoretical level. It is, however, not particularly straightforward to “translate” such abstract epistemological principles into more operative methodological strategies for producing analytical generalizations in research practices. The aim of the article is thus to contribute to the discussions among qualitatively working researchers about generalizing by way of exemplifying some of the methodological practicalities in analytical generalization. Theoretically, the argumentation in the article is based on practice theory, describing three different examples of ways of generalizing on the basis of the same qualitative data material. There is a particular focus on describing the methodological strategies and processes in producing the three different ways of generalizing: ideal typologizing, category zooming, and positioning.

Questions that apply to this article:

1. How do you understand the concept of generalizeability in qualitative research?

2. Explain the concept of transferability.

3. What new insights have you come away with?

Chapter 11: Some Final Technical Considerations

Article 1

Badley, G. F. (2014). Un-Doing a Title. Qualitative Inquiry, 20(3), 287-295.

A complicated title may put some readers off. Others may be intrigued by the complexities that a messy title suggests. “Undoing a title” is an essay that focuses on unraveling the threads of Hanna Guttorm’s messy article “Becoming-(a)-Paper, or an Article Undone.” The essay, first, introduces titology and titles and subtitles as paratexts. Second, it examines the title’s main concepts, namely, Becoming, Paper, Article, Undone, (Post-). Knowing, Writing (Again), Nomadic, and Messy, which structure the article. It concludes with brief comments on topics raised in the main text including that of academic texts as love letters.

Questions that apply to this article: 

1. The title of a research study is important for various reasons. Explain.

2. What factors should you consider when crafting your study’s title?

3. What are some of the limitations regarding an ineffective or “bad” title?

Chapter 12: Defense Preparation and Beyond

Article 1

MacKenzie, C. A., Christensen, J., & Turner, S. (2015). Advocating beyond the academy: dilemmas of communicating relevant research results. Qualitative Research ,15(1), 105-121.

Drawing from experiences in Northern Indigenous Canada, Uganda, and Vietnam, the authors discuss the challenges encountered while trying to communicate relevant results to local communities with whom we work. Wavering between participatory and advocacy research, they explore how the grappled with finding the right audience with whom to share results, their attempts to craft communication to be relevant within specific contexts, and dilemmas over self-censorship. The article documents the authors’ struggles to manage their own expectations and those of the communities with whom they work regarding the ability of their research to broker change. This article emerged from the authors’ frustration of wanting to be accountable to their interviewee communities, but finding few academic articles that go beyond ideals to examine how researchers often struggle to meet these expectations. While participatory approaches are increasingly mainstreamed in social science work, these authors argue that advocacy research can be a more appropriate response to community needs in certain cases.

Questions that apply to this article:

1. How do we choose the most appropriate audiences to disseminate our research findings, and overcome dilemmas regarding self-censorship?

2. What factors need to be taken into account in sharing findings and crafting communication within specific contexts?

3. How, and to what extent do we remain accountable to our research participants?


Article 2

Broadhurst, K. (2014). Academic publishing and the doctoral student: Lessons from Sweden. Qualitative Social Work, 13(5), 595-601

The journey from doctoral student to published author is not without challenges. In condensing a qualitative dissertation one risks the possibility of losing the integrity of the data. How to avoid this and other challenges including coauthoring, and convincing reviewers that a paper is worth publishing, are discussed at length. The authors conclude that whether students can easily write short articles after being steeped in the production of a far lengthier dissertation, is debatable.

Questions that apply to this article:

1. What are some of the challenges of moving from doctoral student to published author?

2. What are some of the most useful pieces of information you take away from this article?

3. What, if at all, was surprising to you about this article?


Article 3

Morse, J. M. & Coulehan, J. (2015). Maintaining Confidentiality in Qualitative Publications. Qualitative Health Research, 25(2),151-152.

Protecting the privacy of study participants is a core tenet of research ethics. It is usual practice to change the names of study participants when publishing qualitative research, but for a number of years, Qualitative Health

Research (QHR) has maintained that this procedure in itself is inadequate to disguise a participant’s identity.

The number of demographic tags, or identifiers, linked to the person in the article may compromise confidentiality—the greater the number of tags that are included, the easier it is to identify the person. To minimize the risk of violating confidentiality, QHR will not publish a table that lists participants’ demographic information. Such information, especially because of the small samples that are used in qualitative research, could enable an interested party to identify a specific person, and to scan the article for what was reported about that individual, tracing what that person said throughout the article.

Questions that apply to this article:

1. Protecting the privacy of study participants is critical. What strategies can be employed to ensure confidentiality?

2. How can you, as the researcher and writer, develop your analysis to the level of an abstract concept as this author suggests?

3. Should IRB approval be required in autoethnograhic research? Why or why not? Explain.