Enhancing quality of qualitative work

Narrative research should be explored as it raises the qualitative method of study to another level of autobiographical thinking, reflection and writing.

In his “Incorporating Cultural Sensitivity into Narrative Qualitative Research” keynote address, world-renowned research methodologist Prof John W. Creswell from University of Michigan, United States, said social research can greatly benefit from the application of qualitative research methodologies.

The shift from quantitative to qualitative research requires an understanding of changes in research design, participants views, context setting, researcher bias and flexible writing structures, he said, adding that narrative research can raise the quality of a study.

Prof Creswell, who was on his first visit to Malaysia, was among three keynote presenters at the 11th International Qualitative Research Conference (11th IQRC), a press release read.

The other speakers were Qualitative Research Association of Malaysia (QRAM) president and Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS (UTP) senior lecturer Dr Chong Su Li, and Interdisciplinary Centre for Qualitative Research (Hong Kong Polytechnic University) director Dr Martin Christensen.

Chong, who spoke on “Defending criticality: Bringing voices from the margins to mainstream”, highlighted how qualitative researchers in Malaysia are still placed in the margins of mainstream, quantitative research.

She also shared that criticality as a practice is not as commonly adopted in the local context, making the landscape of research “less sharp”.

Chong ended her address on a hopeful note that with more qualitative researchers in the country, critical work on topics that are sensitive and difficult to research will potentially receive more support.

Christensen, who revisited the philosophical fundamentals in qualitative research, raised the question of whether qualitative researchers may be moving away from having such critical thinking when doing social research work.

In his “Classical vs Neoclassical: Reflections on the Changing Face of Qualitative Research” address, Christensen compared what he terms as classical and neoclassical perspectives to show where the gaps in research practice are.

Urging the participants to ensure that their philosophical standpoints are clear and present in their work, he warned of a decline in the quality of qualitative research if philosophical fundamentals are not included in the researchers’ critical perspectives. Organised by the QRAM, the conference was held from Nov 23 to 25 at a hotel in Putrajaya.

Themed “Critical Lenses in Qualitative Research”, this year’s IQRC was the first physical conference since 2019, with a total of 160 participants from Canada, China, England, Hong Kong, India, Maldives, Oman, Pakistan, Thailand and Malaysia in attendance and more than 80 papers presented.

During the conference, the Malaysian Journal of Qualitative Research (MJQR) Best Paper Award was presented to Maria Mohd Ismail from Universiti Malaya for her work on collective transport planning.Six IQRC 2023 Best Abstracts Awards were also handed out before the three-day event drew to a close.

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