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    Qualitative research: narrative and Story

    Fear, William J. (2014) Qualitative research: narrative and Story. In: DOP Annual Conference, 8–10 Jan 2014, Grand Hotel, Brighton.

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    Qualitative research is finally being endorsed by the APA and is being recognised as a valid means of psychological research. This paper presents a case study of narrative research and challenges some of the existing assumptions of qualitative research. Qualitative research has taken another step towards being fully recognised as a valid research enterprise within the discipline of psychology. However, we retain a legacy of some common misconceptions with regard to research generally, and qualitative research in particular. One such misconception is the notion that we can judge research by the 'quality of the question' on the one hand and the requirement for 'a question' on the other hand. Indeed, much research, and especially much qualitative research, and arguably the most insightful research, begins with an observation, a hunch, a feeling, a guess, and so on and is not driven by a clearly defined question. To assume the requirement of an a priori definitive question is to transpose a positivist model of hypothesis testing on an enterprise that is relative and interpretive. This is not to suggest, however, that qualitative research cannot be used to address an a priori question. It is simply to acknowledge that an a priori question is neither necessary nor sufficient. In this paper I present a case study of a body of work on Patient Safety and Quality of Care in Healthcare. I will show how the study emerged following a period of intense scrutiny of the current discourse around these topics and the clear absence of evidence of improvements in either safety or quality in healthcare since the inception of the 'modern' Patient Safety movement in 1999. Using Bruner's (1991) model of narrative I will show how the existing narrative of the safety of medicine was breached in Anaesthesia in 1954 and in Hospitalised care in 1964 and how both narratives were consolidated into a new narrative some 30 years later. There are pragmatic considerations in terms of resource acquisition, institutional development, and personal career development. In addition to this I will consider: a) the important, but typically overlooked, difference between narrative as a process and narrative as an artefact (Vygotsky, 1978; Wartofsky, 1973); and b) the essential distinction between narrative and story (which are typically conflated and confused and in the literature). Highlighting different approaches, methods, and constructs this paper provides an important contribution to the development of qualitative research in the field of psychology and begins to address some of the existing confusion around approaches, methods, and constructs. It also explores how qualitative research impacts on practice and the potential for qualitative research to impact on policy and practice on a global scale.


    Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
    Additional Information: The British Psychological Society, Division of Occupational Psychology
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Business and Law > Birkbeck Business School
    Depositing User: William Fear
    Date Deposited: 11 Mar 2015 14:40
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 17:15


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