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But How Do I *Do* Qualitative Research? Bridging the Gap between Qualitative Researchers and Methods Resources--PART 3

Connectors, Crusaders, and Collaborators

Jill’s post from last week detailed ways we data-support professionals can connect researchers to library collections and other information sources for bridging the qualitative methods gap. I’d like to offer more ideas for how we can act not only as connectors but also as crusaders and collaborators on our campuses specifically in the realm of providing and developing qualitative-research teaching resources. 

Because we work with researchers across campus and in various capacities, data-support professionals are often more aware of methods gaps than are the academic departments we support. As such, we are well-positioned to act as intermediaries to address these gaps by connecting researchers to existing resources and crusading for additional resources. For example:

  • We can use our cross-disciplinary knowledge to connect researchers to resources (including other people) about which they may be unaware:
    • “Did you know that the College of Education offers a qualitative methods class that’s open to any discipline?”
    • “Do you know about ResearchTalk's Qualitative Research Summer Intensive?”
    • “Professor X does narrative analysis - maybe you should contact them to see if they’d be on your dissertation committee?”
    • “Professor Y does mixed-methods research - perhaps they’d be willing to consult on the qualitative aspects of your research, and maybe even be a co-investigator?”
  • When we encounter campus researchers experiencing this qualitative methods gap, we can document these occasions and then share them with those who can affect positive change:
    • Tell chairs of academic departments and/or methods professors that graduate students attending qualitative analysis software workshops want this training integrated into their qualitative methods class.
    • Contact the Graduate School and recommend they coordinate student support groups focused on qualitative research [Liz’s post next week will have even more community-building suggestions].
    • Share information gleaned from research consultations and/or instruction sessions with your library administrators to advocate for funds for qualitative-research collections/e-resources and for your own professional development in qualitative methods training.

In addition to connecting and crusading, we data-support professionals can collaborate with other campus researchers to buttress qualitative methods training on campuses. For example:

  • Librarians can draw on their own expertise and also partner with qualitative researchers on campus to offer presentations, workshops, brown bags, etc., aimed at addressing the qualitative methods gap:
    • In my presentation with sociology professor Dr. Ralph LaRossa, “The Logics and Logistics of Qualitative Research”, Dr. LaRossa discusses the methodological steps involved in building theoretically-rich qualitative analyses, then I outline the specific features of NVivo qualitative research software that complement and facilitate these analyses.
    • When teaching qualitative research softwares such as NVivo, Atlas.ti, Quirkos, MAXQDA, or Dedoose, pointedly integrate methodological concepts along with teaching the mechanics (e.g., “Grounded Theory in the Atlas.ti Environment,” “Using NVivo Memos to Document your Methodological Process,” “Developing Variables and Rich Coding Schemas using NVivo Hierarchical Nodes,” “De-Identifying Interview Transcripts in Quirkos,” etc.)

These are just a few ideas for how we can use the three Cs (connecting, crusading, and collaborating) to address this qualitative methods gap. What ideas do you have? What are your successes in this area? Or your slip-ups that we can all learn from?

We welcome comments here, emails to the IASSIST listserv, the QSSHDIG google group, or directly to the authors, and/or comments in this “Blog Conversations” doc embedded in the QSSHDIG website. Also, there's a section at the bottom of the "Blog Conversations" doc for suggesting future QSSDHIG posts - please do!

Stayed tuned for Part 4 of our blog series next week, when Liz Cooper will address how librarians and other data-support professionals can help build community at their institutions around qualitative research.

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