A few posts back I talked about open access journals, and specifically, the International Journal of Qualitative Methods.This post was a response to Mark McGuire’s blog post about open access journals, which he followed up with this new post talking about the International Journal of Qualitative Methods. I’ve looked into this journal a little more, and found this paper called ‘Learning to Think Qualitatively: Experiences of Graduate Students Conducting Qualitative Health Research,’ which I thought was relevant (seeing as I’m a design student conducting research using ethnographic methods).
This paper was written in response to the panel discussion entitled Mentoring Students in Research Methodologies That Go “Against the Grain” of Conventional Health Research, by the McGill Qualitative Health Research Group Conference. The authors say that taking a qualitative approach “has involved many challenges, including being introduced to and becoming engaged with a completely different knowledge base and paradigm, muddling through different kinds of methodological questions than peers who work within a more quantitative world.” This sounds pretty similar to the qualitative research I’ve been doing this year. Often quantitative approaches are very established but inflexible, whereas there is more creative room in some qualitative methods.
“When conducting our qualitative projects, we have felt deeply privileged when we are invited to hear people’s stories. Doing qualitative research involves “getting up close and personal” with participants, and we recognize that this involves an important commitment from them as well. These people take time out of their lives to share their stories, relate meaningful and sometimes difficult experiences, respond to challenging questions, and even allow us to accompany them throughout some of these experiences.”
This passage from the journal article seemed very familiar for me. Over the past two years I’ve conducted projects on new parents, and elderly people. Hearing their stories can be one of the best parts of the research process. In my experience people have proven to be extremely generous with their time and personal stories. These stories are what makes the research real. They are the inspiration that gets you through the harder parts of the research. The journal paper is worth a read, especially if you’re a budding qualitative researcher.