Fatal Flaws in Writing Qualitative Research in the Study of Human Occupation: Making Tacit Knowledge Explicit through Reflexive Engagement

Author #1

Abstract

Background and Rationale:

Various forms of qualitative social research are becoming increasingly integrated into scholarship in the field of occupational science (Kinsella, 2012). Nonetheless, little analysis or guidance with respect to ‘pitfalls’ to avoid in the writing up of qualitative data has been published to date.

Approach:

In this paper the author, a teacher of advanced qualitative methodologies and a researcher, adopts a hermeneutic approach to engage in reflexive musings about her work as an educator, reviewer of journal articles, supervisor and examiner of doctoral dissertations, to render explicit, 4 fatal flaws frequently witnessed in the writing of qualitative research.

Findings:

4 fatal flaws with respect to what may be legitimately claimed, and the representation of findings in qualitative social research are discussed. These include: a) generalizing versus particularizing the claims of participants; b) inferences about the inner lives of participants and what they believe, feel or understand; c) inferences about the applicability of the findings beyond what may be claimed in an interpretive or critical design; and d) universalizing participant statements, the findings, and the implications.

Implications:

Making tacit knowledge from practice explicit might be seen as a form of epistemic reflexivity, in which knowledge can be generated from reflexive engagement with first hand experience. When such knowledge is shared with an epistemic community of occupational science, it can be challenged, supported, questioned and lead to the generation of collective knowledge (Kinsella & Whiteford, 2009).

Conclusion:

The aim of the paper will be to share reflexive insights, and examples from the field, recognizing that these insights are situated, and partial. One goal of the session will be to engage a dialogue with other occupational scientists and to share understandings that have the potential to direct scholarly and practical attention to this topic and shape the quality of future qualitative social research in occupational science.

Key words:

Qualitative Social Research; Writing Social Research; Epistemic Reflexivity; Knowledge Generation; Occupational Science

 
Oct 18th, 11:40 AM Oct 18th, 12:10 PM

Fatal Flaws in Writing Qualitative Research in the Study of Human Occupation: Making Tacit Knowledge Explicit through Reflexive Engagement

Background and Rationale:

Various forms of qualitative social research are becoming increasingly integrated into scholarship in the field of occupational science (Kinsella, 2012). Nonetheless, little analysis or guidance with respect to ‘pitfalls’ to avoid in the writing up of qualitative data has been published to date.

Approach:

In this paper the author, a teacher of advanced qualitative methodologies and a researcher, adopts a hermeneutic approach to engage in reflexive musings about her work as an educator, reviewer of journal articles, supervisor and examiner of doctoral dissertations, to render explicit, 4 fatal flaws frequently witnessed in the writing of qualitative research.

Findings:

4 fatal flaws with respect to what may be legitimately claimed, and the representation of findings in qualitative social research are discussed. These include: a) generalizing versus particularizing the claims of participants; b) inferences about the inner lives of participants and what they believe, feel or understand; c) inferences about the applicability of the findings beyond what may be claimed in an interpretive or critical design; and d) universalizing participant statements, the findings, and the implications.

Implications:

Making tacit knowledge from practice explicit might be seen as a form of epistemic reflexivity, in which knowledge can be generated from reflexive engagement with first hand experience. When such knowledge is shared with an epistemic community of occupational science, it can be challenged, supported, questioned and lead to the generation of collective knowledge (Kinsella & Whiteford, 2009).

Conclusion:

The aim of the paper will be to share reflexive insights, and examples from the field, recognizing that these insights are situated, and partial. One goal of the session will be to engage a dialogue with other occupational scientists and to share understandings that have the potential to direct scholarly and practical attention to this topic and shape the quality of future qualitative social research in occupational science.

Key words:

Qualitative Social Research; Writing Social Research; Epistemic Reflexivity; Knowledge Generation; Occupational Science