The Society for Social Work and Research

2014 Annual Conference

January 15-19, 2014 I Grand Hyatt San Antonio I San Antonio, TX

Roundtable On Qualitative Dissertation Research: Learning From Doctoral Student Peers

Saturday, January 18, 2014: 8:00 AM-9:45 AM
Marriott Riverwalk, Alamo Ballroom Salon D, 2nd Floor Elevator Level BR (San Antonio, TX)
Cluster: Research Design and Measurement
Julia R. Henly, PhD, University of Chicago, Gina M. Samuels, PhD, University of Chicago, Benjamin Roth, MSW, University of Chicago, Alana Gunn, MA, MPP, University of Chicago, Melissa Hardesty, MSW, University of Chicago, Alfred Pérez, MSW, University of Chicago, Vanessa Vorhies, MSSW, University of Chicago, Jessica H. Darrow, MSW, University of Chicago, Kafi Moragne, MA, University of Chicago, Florian Sichling, MSW, University of Chicago, Ellen G. Frank-Miller, MA, University of Chicago, Cristina Ortiz, MSW, University of Chicago, Stephen Edward McMillin, PhD, AM (MSW), Saint Louis University, Amanda Michelle Jones, MS, University of Chicago and Christine S. Leone, MSW, University of Chicago
Overview.  Qualitative research has played and continues to play a central role in the advancement of social work knowledge across clinical, organizational, community, and policy domains. Indeed, several key questions that drive social work can most appropriately be addressed with qualitative or mixed-method approaches. However, many doctoral students who embark on qualitative and mixed-methods dissertation projects struggle with a variety of scholarly and practical issues that may be distinct from, or that layer on top of, more familiar dissertation challenges. The goal of this roundtable is to create space to discuss these challenges and share strategies for overcoming them.

Format.  This roundtable includes a session organizer and a moderator, both senior faculty members with multiple years of experience supervising qualitative and mixed-methods dissertations. It also includes “questioners” who are doctoral students in the early years of a doctoral program and “responders,” doctoral students in the later stages of their qualitative dissertations.* The roundtable organizer will introduce the session purpose and goals, and introduce participants. Responders will prepare and present brief 5-minute remarks to specific questions that have been identified in advance of the roundtable session; questions are asked aloud by the questioners. Prepared remarks are meant to generate conversation with the audience, which we envision will include a mix of doctoral students and faculty across universities. Each questioner will be responsible for one domain topic (see below), and will address questions to two responders.  Questioners may ask follow-up questions in response to responder remarks. The moderator will help facilitate discussion, incorporating audience questions and comments throughout the duration of the session. In the final portion of the roundtable, the moderator will facilitate discussion of next steps to move the conversation forward beyond SSWR.  Possibilities may include the formation of on-line discussion groups for trouble shooting dissertation challenges, to provide support, or to post announcements about trainings and other forums related to qualitative research; mentorship models within and across universities; and future SSWR presentations addressing issues in greater depth or new issues not addressed in this roundtable.

Question Topics. 

Domain 1.  Preparing for the Qualitative or Mixed-Methods Dissertation: This domain will address pre-dissertation preparation to conduct qualitative and mixed-methods research, arriving at an appropriate question, considerations of epistemological approach and method selection.

Domain 2.  Special Challenges In and Out of the Field: This domain will address challenges to conducting qualitative and mixed-methods research including: IRB considerations, site selection and sample recruitment, moving from data to findings, and from findings to theory. This domain will also address support to deal with emotional challenges resulting from the intensity of researcher-participant relationships, subjectivity of experience, and other field-related issues.

Domain 3.  Presenting and Disseminating Qualitative and Mixed-Methods Findings: This domain will address diverse approaches to oral and written presentation of qualitative and mixed-methods findings, venues for publishing, and ways to educate audiences about the purposes and uses of qualitative and mixed-methods social work research.

*Organizer, moderator, and doctoral students participated in the development of this roundtable and have confirmed their availability for participation.

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