For the fifth year running, the University of Bath hosted the Qualitative Research Symposium (QRS) - a forum for researchers to facilitate interdisciplinary discussion of common features, challenges, and changes in qualitative research. With over 200 delegates from Bath and beyond, this edition has been our most popular to date.
This year, the conference theme was Myths, Methods, and Messiness: Insights for Qualitative Research Analysis. The analytical process in qualitative inquiry is challenging. Unlike the mechanics followed in quantitative research, there are countless ways to conduct qualitative analysis. Analytical approaches range from structured step-by-step processes, through more flexible frames, to those without pre-determined form.
Regardless of approach, for many reasons (for example growing acceptance, rigour, trustworthiness, and others), qualitative researchers are being encouraged or required to communicate their analytical approach in detail. Yet, several challenges arise from this expectation for all writers and readers of qualitative inquiry.
For the symposium this year, we invited researchers to explore and share their past, current, or future analytical practice. We aimed to provide space for researchers to:
- Engage with a variety of forms of analysis from colleagues across multiple disciplines
- Delve deeper into and discuss their orientations and processes of analysis
- Challenge simplistic understandings of qualitative analysis
- Consider the aspects of the qualitative research process that inform our thinking on and approach to analysis, quality, rigour, and trustworthiness
In and through this space, it was the concept of messiness that resonated loudest with participants, and became a recurring touchstone as many participants relished sharing their non-linear processes and experiences of qualitative research analysis.
Professor Gary Goertz from the University of Notre Dame in the United States joined us as the keynote speaker. His talk, titled Rethinking the Methodology of Conceptual Typologies, offered a thoughtful and engaging examination of typologies. His take away message was that typologies are sets of concepts, and that it is imperative to focus on the concepts. Thus, he urged delegates, ‘break the rules’ from the constraints that can be imposed by typological thinking.
The plenary discussion on Publishing Qualitative Research was a second highlight of the day. The session, chaired by Dr Gareth Conway from the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL), was based on the experience of several senior scholars and editors of qualitative research: Dr. Julie Gore from the University of Bath, Hannah Shakespeare from Routledge, and Prof. Brett Smith from the University of Birmingham. Attention was paid to the different outlets of qualitative research (e.g., books, edited volumes, and journals), trends in publication of qualitative research, and writing for journals that have not or do not historically publish qualitative research.
We were thrilled to have so many doctoral students join us for QRS 2019, and we hope to always create particular value for early career researchers.
If you want to hear more about QRS 2019, here is organising committee member Bryan Clift with a short blurb from the day:
As we look toward QRS 2020, we will be expanding from a one-day Symposium to two: The day before the Symposium next year will include qualitative research workshops. We hope to have you join us then!
On behalf of Symposium Organisers,
Sheree Bekker and Bryan Clift
QRS 2019 Organising Committee:
Ioannis Costas Batlle