1/ A thread with some tips on writing qualitative research dissertations - esp those using thematic analysis - including common problems to avoid (prompted by marking student projects). First tip - as @ginnybraun & I always say check local requirements! Broadly speaking, there
2/ are two styles of qual research reporting: 1) "add qual and stir" - default quant conventions slightly tweaked for qual: finding & filling the "gap" introduction & rationale, methodological critique of existing studies, separate "results" & discussion... 2) qual centric. The
3/ latter is far less well understood & recognised - I've had reviewers/editors insist on me reworking qual centric reports into something more conventional, examiners do the same to my students. So check what is required in your context. If a marker/examiner doesn't "get it"
4/ they may not like it! So for qual centric reporting if you're not positivist/realist in your research what does that mean for your introduction? Don't be a positivist/realist in the intro! Think carefully about framing & footing of quanty research - don't present quanty
5/ "findings" as facts but as claims. Don't engage in methodological critique based on quanty assumptions (odd!). Understand your intro as contextualisation & rationale for your study rather than simply a lit review & finding a "gap". Don't describe single study after study...
6/ try to overview & synthesise if discussing a body of lit. The best intros in my view make an argument for the research & frame it within relevant wider contexts, they flow beautifully - I always know why I'm being told something & where things are going. There's no jumping
7/ around to seemingly unrelated topics... Work out if your intro is the classic inverted triangle - start broader get more specific - or what I call "stacking boxes" - you have several different topics to discuss that aren't easily classified as broader/more specific - they
8/ are all roughly the same - so how do you order/stack the boxes? It's a judgement call - see what works best as you write. Definitely have signposting/an overview at the start to help the reader understand where things are going. Try to have linking sentences between topics/
9/ sections to signal transitions. We've been there now we're going here... End the intro with your research questions/aims. These should make sense/not be a surprise given the context you have presented. The reader should almost expect your research questions! Don't present
8/ hypotheses or discuss as a student was asked to recently what you expect to find! Don't formulate your research question in terms of the impact of X on Y - this is essentially quanty hypotheses in a bad disguise! You need a qual specific formulated question. Check out my and
11/ @ginnybraun's qual textbook for advice on qual specific research questions - uk.sagepub.com/en-gb/eur/succ…
12/ This paper has guidance on research questions specific to thematic analysis - uwe-repository.worktribe.com/output/7164974…
13/ Check your dissertation title to make sure it isn't implicitly quanty framed too. I can't tell you how many times I've got to the research questions expecting a quant study! There's been nothing in the title or intro to lead me to expect a qual study! In the method/ology make
14/ make sure you discuss your philosophical assumptions even if only briefly & esp. if using TA as it's a theoretically flexible method(ish) not a theoretically bound methodology. If you're an insider researcher (a member of the grp you are researching) Take a dive into the
15/ insider researcher lit - this paper by @drnikkihayfield & Caroline Huxley is a great place to start: tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.108…
16/ In general look for methodological lit related to your design choices. Don't say I had to do video call ints because of Covid... draw on the video call methodological lit to provide a more robust rationale & discussion. Great chapter by @phannadr - cambridge.org/core/books/col…
17/ I often encounter students being told to cite more than 1 source on thematic analysis - peril!! Most aren't aware of the diversity in TA - don't mix & match incompatible approaches. Braun & Clarke and Boyatzis = NOPE! B&C and Joffe/Barbour/Guest = also NOPE! Check out the
18/ Conceptual & Design Thinking for Thematic Analysis paper linked to earlier for guidance. Do you have to explain why you didn't use other method/ologies to explain your choice of analytic method? Some like this but I think it's odd... I've seen utterly implausible alternatives
19/ presented & very poorly explained! Check out this paper to help you develop a robust rationale for your selected method/ology (free to read at the moment) - onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.10…
20/ If you used B&C TA don't just provide a generic description of the 6 phases - tell the reader what you actually did, how you engaged with the process! Avoid quanty style headings in the method/ology (Materials? Nope) & generally rationale (why) before procedure (how). In the
21/ Analysis (not Findings if you can avoid this discovery oriented heading) start with an overview (simple list of themes, a table or thematic map) - I'm often befuddled as to what/where the themes are! Don't confuse topic summaries with themes if doing B&C TA - see Conceptual
22/ and Design Thinking... paper linked to earlier for a discussion. Avoid one word theme names as they aren't very informative (& suggest topic summaries) & keep in mind that themes are complex, rich & multifaceted stories - you can't report loads of them & do them justice.
23/ We generally advise against loads of theme levels & subthemes - the latter are useful to highlight a facet of the central concept. If you want lots of themes/theme levels try template or framework analysis as these are designed for this. In qual centric an integrated "results
24/ & discussion" is all good but this seems to be something that more mainstream/positivist folks really struggle with... In a dissertation with an integrated R&D you still need a general discussion where you reflect on the study & look forward to future research. Things to
25/ avoid here - noting you *may* have influenced the analysis because of your positioning. Take it from me - you did! Try to reflect on *how* you did. Don't bemoan the lack of generalisability of your small sample - gaaaahhhh! You're evaluating qual here using quant standards
26/ And you're implicitly invoking a quant conceptualisation of statistical generalisability. There are qually forms - discuss these instead! Check out this fantastic paper by @BrettSmithProf - tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.108…
27/ When you make suggestions for future research don't turn on the "random ideas generator"!! The suggestions should arise from your research - intriguing "findings" that need to be explored further, addressing the limitations of your study. If suggesting research needs to be
28/ conducted with other groups of people - try to provide an evidenced based discussion explaining why things might be different (and similar) for these groups as we do in this open access paper on gay fathers: tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.10…

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More from @drvicclarke

1 Jun
1/ A thread on why I think collecting demographic data is important in qualitative research (& research more broadly) & a request for your thoughts on this. Am I alone in thinking this is important? I seem to be... based on experiences of ethics scrutiny this yr #AcademicChatter
2/ I get the sense that some researchers - esp those researching students - implicitly imagine their potential participants as the "usual suspects" (white, straight, nondisabled, middle class etc)... I've scrutinised several studies where disability (cog fog etc) would confound
3/ the quant results but no exclusion criteria & no demographics - I don't get it?! I've been told by white male students more than once that if for eg race/ethnicity aren't relevant to the research question there is no need to collect demog data on ethnicity. But as a white
Read 17 tweets
28 May
1/ To all those advocating saturation as *the* criterion for determining qual "sample" size (instead of Gender & Society's positivist qual 35 int minimum) please note that saturation has been critiqued for bloody decades as realist/positivist & not working for all qual. Here's
2/ Ian Dey in 1999 - yep over 20 years ago! - describing saturation as an "unfortunate metaphor": books.emeraldinsight.com/page/detail/gr…
3/ Here's me & @ginnybraun critiquing the use of saturation as information redundancy in thematic analysis research - arguing that saturation only makes sense in positivist/realist forms of TA. For our reflexive approach it simply doesn't work: tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.108…
Read 8 tweets
15 May
1/ A thread providing an overview of my & @ginnybraun's latest paper on #thematicanalysis - Conceptual & Design Thinking for Thematic Analysis in the APA journal Qualitative Psychology - I will link to an open access version at the end of the thread: psycnet.apa.org/record/2021-45…
2/ Why this paper? Because TA is closer to a method (trans theoretical technique) rather than a methodology (theoretically informed & delimited framework for research) researchers need to engage in careful conceptual & design thinking to produce coherent research.
3/ What Levitt et al. (2017) call research with "methodological integrity". Some argue TA is actually a challenging option because it necessitates conceptual & design thinking - we like to see this more positively as TA making visible the thinking necessary for quality research.
Read 16 tweets
4 Apr
1/ A thread on qual interviewing. I've been talking to students this week about to embark on their first interview so I thought I would share my tips here for anyone about to do the same! Feeling nervous/anxious about doing your first interview is normal! I am very shy/socially
2/ anxious & I take comfort in the fact an interview is a structured social encounter - you have a role to play, so does the interviewee. You will hit your stride - for most around interview 3/4. A practice run with a friend or family member can really help boost your confidence!
3/ If you have the opportunity to watch a research interview take it! There's no better way to learn. My PhD supervisors also encouraged their students to participate in research & that was so helpful to get a feel for an interview from the "inside". There are loads of different
Read 26 tweets
4 Apr
Following my tweet yesterday on the new edition of Analysing Qualitative Data in Psychology - if you're not familiar with this book here's why it's awesome - it covers 5 qual approaches - TA, IPA, grounded theory, discourse & narrative analysis. For each there is a "how to" guide
written by "experts" (e.g. me & @ginnybraun for TA, @BrettSmithProf for narrative analysis), then a doing chapter often written by a grad student/ECR applying the approach to an interview dataset - which is reproduced in the book, with further interviews on the companion website
So for the doing TA chapter @GarethRTerry shares his experience of using TA to analyse 2 interviews with ex-soldiers about their experiences of leaving the army. He starts with answering the 'many questions' of TA & reflecting on his assumptions before diving into the six phases.
Read 6 tweets
20 Aug 20
1/ Following the recent publication of a paper on online qualitative surveys with @ginnybraun @lgoatley @Elicia_Boulton & Charlotte McEvoy here's a thread of resources for qually survey research. Starting with that paper which is currently open access: tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.10…
2/ And an accompanying blog about why qually surveys are awesome: ijsrm.org/2020/08/19/onl…
3/ @ginnybraun & I first wrote about qually surveys in our textbook Successful Qualitative Research - the companion website includes egs of surveys and survey datasets for use in teaching: uk.sagepub.com/en-gb/eur/succ…
Read 19 tweets

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