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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.

But How Do I *Do* Qualitative Research? Bridging the Gap between Qualitative Researchers and Methods Resources--PART 1

The IASSIST Qualitative Social Science & Humanities Data Interest Group (QSSHDIG) was created in October 2016, its central purpose: to foster conversations regarding the needs of researchers who generate qualitative data, and what types of services librarians and other information professionals can develop to support these researchers in managing their data/source materials throughout the research lifecycle.

This four-post blog series engages in one particular conversation: challenges researchers face in terms of a lack of qualitative methods training, and strategies for how data-support professionals can address these challenges. The following QSSHDIG members are the series authors:

  • Jill Conte, Social Sciences Librarian at New York University
  • Liz Cooper, Social Sciences Librarian at the University of New Mexico
  • Mandy Swygart-Hobaugh, Social Sciences Librarian at Georgia State University

To foster conversation, 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!

Why have this conversation?

Many social science researchers (students and faculty alike) are increasingly conducting qualitative research while lacking formal training in qualitative methods. This may be due to various factors, including but not limited to the following:

  • their particular discipline does not widely embrace qualitative research,
  • their discipline just recently began emphasizing mixed methods (using qualitative and quantitative methods) when previously it was predominantly quantitative-based,
  • they are in an interdisciplinary academic program without a strong research methods training component.

Those of us who offer training sessions on qualitative data analysis software (such as NVivo, Atlas.ti, Quirkos, or Dedoose) often experience researchers coming to these sessions without the methodological background to *do* qualitative research or understand what the software can/cannot do for them - sometimes hoping that the software will have the “magic button” to solve their lack of training. Similarly, as social science liaison librarians we often witness this qualitative methods gap during our research consultations. Although this dilemma of lack of methods training is not unique to qualitative research (i.e., researchers lacking quantitative research training are known to attend statistical software training sessions), when compared to their quantitative counterparts, qualitative researchers often have less resources for support and for building necessary skills.

The three posts in the remainder of this blog series will offer concrete strategies for how data-support professionals can act as bridges between social science researchers and the resources they need to strengthen their qualitative research and methodologies skills:

  • Jill Conte’s post will offer suggestions for connecting researchers with secondary and tertiary sources for qualitative research training. [to be posted Monday, July 24] 
  • Mandy Swygart-Hobaugh’s post will share ideas for developing and providing training resources in collaboration with faculty and academic departments that are mindful of this methods gap. [to be posted Monday, July 31] 
  • Liz Cooper’s post will address how librarians and other data-support professionals can help build community at their institutions around qualitative research. [to be posted Monday, August 7] 
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