Tips for new assistant professors

In the United States, as we enter the new academic year, many new assistant professors are beginning a new position. Congratulations to all those who are beginning in new positions in 2017! This is a wonderful accomplishment. The first semester in a new position is filled with new faculty orientations, preparation for teaching new courses, and thinking through ideas and plans for converting doctoral research into publications. With so many responsibilities, it is possible to overlook the larger picture in terms of planning a career. What are some strategies that might help?

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“Qualitative researchers need to be storytellers”

This is what Harry Wolcott (1994, p. 17) asserts in his book on qualitative data analysis. What are strategies that one might use to tell the story of one’s research? Whatever approach one selects to use in a qualitative study, the end product will typically be a written report on the research study. This might take the form of an article, chapter or book. Of course there are numerous other ways to present one’s findings, including drama, poetry and performances – that is a topic for another post. Continue reading ““Qualitative researchers need to be storytellers””

An introduction to Creative Analytic Practices and Arts Based Inquiry

“Creative analytic practices” (CAP) is a term coined by the sociologist, Laurel Richardson (1999, p. 660), who writes:

In the wake of poststructuralist, feminist, critical race literary and queer theory, ethnographic work now appears in multiple venues in a variety of forms. The ethnographic genre has been blurred, enlarged, and altered to include autoethnography, poetry, drama, conversation, new journalism, readers’ theater, performance, hypertext, fiction, faction, creative nonfiction, true fiction, aphorisms, comedy, satire, layered texts, writing stories, songs, museum installations, photographs, body painting, choreography and so forth. Continue reading “An introduction to Creative Analytic Practices and Arts Based Inquiry”

Approaches to examine storytelling

Researchers who use narrative inquiry focus on telling the stories of the participants of their studies. There are so many different approaches to narrative inquiry though — how might one begin?

What is meant by the term “narrative”? That depends on the perspective to narrative that one takes. Some argue that narrative data can include open-ended survey data, through interview data, to written narratives. From this perspective, “narrative” is being used synonymously with “words” or “textual data”. Others argue that narratives are stories that have a beginning, middle and an end. That is, narratives are stories that involve a plot with temporal order. Continue reading “Approaches to examine storytelling”

10 Suggestions for Summer-time things to do in qualitative inquiry

For those in the northern hemisphere it is summer time, and some qualitative researchers have extra time to do things that are difficult to squeeze into a regular semester. Here are suggestions for 10 fun things to do… Continue reading “10 Suggestions for Summer-time things to do in qualitative inquiry”

Tips on considering “subjectivity” in qualitative research

Many newcomers to qualitative studies struggle with the idea of how one’s self, and “subject positions” or “subjectivities” might be represented in qualitative inquiry. For those more attuned to positivist approaches to research in which the researcher is depicted as “neutral” and “objective,” discussing one’s own interests and relationships to a topic and participants of a research study can be viewed as erring dangerously into the territory of “biased” research that is viewed as problematic, if not lacking in validity. Continue reading “Tips on considering “subjectivity” in qualitative research”

Influential qualitative researchers: Harry F. Wolcott

Educational anthropologist Harry Wolcott (1929-2012) has written numerous books on how to do qualitative research. His early study investigated the work of a principal in The man in the principal’s office: An ethnography (Wolcott, 1973). Unlike many of his contemporaries, Wolcott argued for the merit of an n of 1 (Wolcott, 1995). One of his more well-known studies examined the life history of a young man known in a trilogy of publications as Brad. Brad took up residence on Wolcott’s property in Oregon (Wolcott, 2002), and Wolcott went on to interview him and publish his life story in a journal article. Continue reading “Influential qualitative researchers: Harry F. Wolcott”

The International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry, 2017

This past weekend I attended the 13th meeting of the International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. This conference is attended by scholars from all over the world and offers  a feast of different approaches to qualitative researchers. Over 1500 delegates from more than 75 nations registered for the conference. Continue reading “The International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry, 2017”

Tips for formulating interview questions

Asking questions of interviewees in ways that help them tell their stories is something of an art. It goes without saying that it is good practice to be well-prepared for interviews. This includes thinking about the physical setting for an interview and the technology one will need to record an interview. And there are so many choices: what will be used — a digital recorder, cell phone, tablet, pen and paper, telephone or synchronous online meeting room? If you are using a digital technology for the first time, it is always useful to test it, and check that the file form can be easily downloaded and made accessible for transcribing. This is because some digital recorders do not have a means to download files. Yet even before setting up the interview and asking the first question, one needs to have thought about the topics one wants to learn about, how these relate to the research questions posed, and the kinds of questions that might elicit information about those topics. In this blog post, I discuss tips for formulating interview guides. Continue reading “Tips for formulating interview questions”

Assessing “quality” in qualitative research

There is a very large body of literature devoted to thinking about how the “quality” of qualitative research should be assessed. From writing several decades ago in which the concepts of “validity” and “reliability” were redefined and applied to qualitative research (e.g.,  Goetz & LeCompte, 1983; LeCompte & Goetz, 1992), methodologists have argued for the rejection in qualitative inquiry (e.g., “validity”, Wolcott, 1990), re-conceptualized such terms as “validity,” (e.g., Lather, 1993; Scheurich, 2001), and proliferated new terms such as “crystallization” (Ellingson, 2009, 2011). It can be difficult for anyone new to conducting qualitative research to figure out where to begin when so much has been written. Here are a few ways to begin to think about what quality means in qualitative research. Continue reading “Assessing “quality” in qualitative research”