Session: One Size Does Not Fit All: Current Issues in Qualitative Research (Society for Social Work and Research 14th Annual Conference: Social Work Research: A WORLD OF POSSIBILITIES)

88 One Size Does Not Fit All: Current Issues in Qualitative Research

Cluster: Research Design and Measurement

Marie L. McCormick, PhD, Marywood University , Janet Hoy, PhD, University of Toledo and Roberta R. Iversen, PhD, University of Pennsylvania
Saturday, January 16, 2010: 8:00 AM-9:45 AM
Seacliff C (Hyatt Regency)
Qualitative research represents a particular way of knowing that can be characterized as 'a world of possibilities'. It has developed into a research paradigm representing core concepts, unifying values and beliefs, and common practices (Kuhn, 1962) contrasting with and complementary to the quantitative paradigm. In response to the expressed needs and interests of the members of the SSWR Qualitative Research Interest Group present at the 2009 annual meeting, this roundtable opens a dialogue about current issues in qualitative research including, but not limited to transcription, data analysis, subjects as participants or co-researchers, ethics, languaging qualitative research, and qualitative social work research as distinct from other disciplines. It aims to engage attendees who have had some experience in conducting qualitative research and to involve newer researchers who are interested in exploring this way of knowing at a deeper, more nuanced level. To begin the dialogue attendees will be invited to discuss the consonance between qualitative research and social work. Representing one perspective, qualitative research and social work practice are described as relationship-based ways of knowing with conceptual and methodological parallels including emphasis on direct empathic contact with participants/clients; focus on uniqueness rather than generalizability; attention to context; intersubjectivity, reflexivity, and process-orientation. Continuing the discussion, the next topic introduced raises the issue of power differentials inherent in relationships between participants and researchers. Representing one position, the value of and limitations to approaches (critical, feminist, action research) that propose to mitigate power differentials through a 'participant as co-researcher' approach are considered from the perspective of the presenter's experiences in collaborating to develop a study with individuals from a program run by and for people living with severe mental illness. The final topic introduced for discussion focuses on the range of approaches to qualitative data analysis from highly structured methods using software programs and other devices such as matrices, time-ordered displays, and causal sequencing, etc. (Miles & Huberman, 1994), to interpretive approaches that use reflective, associative processes to discover meaning. It aims to engage attendees in a discussion of the epistemological assumptions that underlie the range of approaches to data analysis by articulating a particular position: that qualitative research data is compromised when it is adapted to the requirements and constraints of positivistically derived methods of data analysis. The intent of introducing these particular topics is to begin a richer more complex discussion of the multiple issues that arise when engaging in qualitative research. Participants will be encouraged to introduce their own questions and concerns to further the discussion in order to develop a dialogue that is relevant to the particular interests of the attendees. Members of the Qualitative Research Interest Group will be present to continue the discussions begun during this roundtable; and to build support for qualitative social work research through mentoring, collaboration and networking.
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