04 SES 08 E, Delving into Inclusion: Research strategies and methodological options
This paper uses one of Grounded Theory’s main methodological assets, constant comparison, to develop a framework for reflecting the role researchers play in (international) research processes in the field of education. Having conducted research on the educational situation of children with disabilities in three very diverse settings made constant exchange and reflection necessary. Disability evokes individual reactions and interview settings are often filled with emotional personal accounts or develop a certain therapeutic direction. Not only the interviewees’ answers but also the researchers’ approach, reaction and behaviour impact the situation and the whole research process. As these dynamics are mostly only touched upon in papers describing research activities (which mostly focus on results and theory development) the authors decided to make them the focus of this paper. Via narrating their own experiences in an international comparative research project and discussing how they presume that their role had an impact on the field of interest, this paper comes up with an exemplary model for structured reflection on this process. What the authors call a ‘reflection-matrix’ was developed in the course of a process that resembled the one of constant comparison in Grounded Theory. This model is supposed to enable reflection on the different roles a researcher is confronted with at different stages and levels of the research process. The authors argue that this model can support researchers before planning, applying for and working on international research projects as common mistakes or shortcomings in relation to the researchers’ possible roles could be identified and considered at an early stage.
As we applied Grounded Theory (GT) to our individual analysis procedures, results were preliminary and we faced problems at different stages of the process as our research sites varied to big extents (Austria, Ethiopia, Thailand). This made it difficult to narrow down the scope of comparable topics. We agreed that it would make more sense to share far different, but no way less interesting experiences. Exchanging on possible topics for this paper on challenges in comparative research we found that the roles we as researchers (had and still have to) play within the research process and what affects these was an issue of outmost importance to all of us at almost all stages of research. We found that this importance had already been recited as side topic in papers on qualitative research processes or centre of attention in regards to reflective processes or qualitative research activities as such (e.g. Devereux 1984, Wanda 2003, Clarke 2005, Mruck & Mey 2007). One focus we could identify was the field of ethnography (Winchatz 2006). But what we were missing was a handy framework that would serve as basis for and enable reflecting on the different levels of importance of certain roles the researcher plays/could play or should under no circumstances play. This seems especially important in an international comparative research process where reflection of oneself in different cultures (not only related to different countries) seems of major importance. The reflection process that provided the basis for this paper was divided into two parts: 1. Individual time periods to think about this challenge and to illustrate our thoughts 2. Common exchange and discussion times Taking time individually, coming back together to discuss findings and constructing a basis with which all of us could work has been very efficient. It was a process that reminded us very strongly of that of constant comparison in GTM and which we would dub “constant reflection”. Constant comparison within GTM can be referred to as “[…] the process of constantly comparing instances of data labeled in one category with other instances of data labeled for that category.” (Urquhart 2013, 17). During our reflection process we could identify certain similar processes. By comparing and enriching different topics we were able to develop a clear focus: the impact of roles.
Discussing the impact and sort of roles we played in the course of the research activities was very helpful for our ongoing data-analysis activities. Reflexivity provides the researchers with tools that enable them to go beyond the data as such (Clarke 2005) and find out about reasons, backgrounds and intentions of interviewees within their spoken or signed words. Hence, revealing connections, dependencies and patterns. Getting answers to such issues sheds more light on the whole set of data and enable the researcher to make interpretations on that kind of background including the uncovering of power-relations, influential balancing acts and the impact of feelings of being different (alien). Additionally, it will lead to self-reflections regarding the researcher. While thinking about the deeper motivation of interviewees, the interviewer is always being included as recipient of the information, and most certainly also as further distributer of the information. It would therefore make sense, to reflect on the role of the researcher, the image that informants have of him/her and the expectations that are directed towards the researcher. All of these aspects are somehow related to the image of the researcher and some sort of power-relations (Devereux 1984). E.g. it might be the image interviewees have of the researcher that makes them speak about one thing but not the other. It might be respect, disrespect or simply a question of sympathy that people are honest and speaking very openly or having other thoughts or intentions behind their given information. The same holds true on the researcher’s side. Hence, there are always power-relations between interviewer and interviewee that are having huge influences on the data gathered and which therefore should be reflected on. The final result of our analyses was the development of a "reflection-matrix" that includes the dimensions power, balancing, and being different.
Ben-Ari, A., Enosh, G. (2013): Power-relations and Reciprocity: Dialectics of Knowledge Construction. Qualitative Health Research, Vol. 23 (3), 422-429 Birks, M. & Mills, J. (2011): Grounded Theory. A Practical Guide. London/Thousand Oaks/New Delhi/Singapore, Sage Breuer, F. (2010). Reflexive Grounded Theory. Eine Einführung für die Forschungspraxis. Wiesbaden, Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften Charmaz, K. (2006). Constructing Grounded Theory: A Practical Guide Through Qualitative Analysis. London/Thousand Oaks/New Delhi, Sage Clarke, A. E. (2005): Situational Analysis. Grounded Theory After the Postmodern Turn. Thousand Oaks/ London/ New Delhi, Sage Devereux, G. (1984/1967): Angst und Methode in den Verhaltenswissenschaften. Suhrkamp Taschenbuch Verlag Fink, A. S. (2000): The Role of the Researcher in the Qualitative Research Process. A Potential Barrier to Archiving Qualitative Data. In: FQS – Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung, Vol. 1, No. 3, Article 4 Glaser, B. G./ Strauss, A. L. (1967/2008): The discovery of grounded theory: strategies for qualitative research. (New Brunswick/New Jersey etc., Aldine Transaction) McGinity, R. (2012): Exploring the complexities of researcher identity in a school based ethnography. In: Reflective Practice: International and Multidisciplinary Perspectives, 13 (6), 761-773 Mortier, K., Desimpel, L., De Schauwer, E. & Van Hove, G. (2011): „I want support, not comments”: children’s perspectives on supports in their life. In: Disability & Society, 26 (2), 207-221 Mruck, K. & Mey, G. (2007): Grounded Theory and Reflexivity. In: Bryant, A. & Charmaz, K. (Eds.): The Sage Handbook of Grounded Theory. London/New Delhi/ Thousand Oaks/ Singapore: Sage Nieke, W. (2008). Interkulturelle Erziehung und Bildung. Wertorientierungen im Alltag. Wiesbaden, VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschafte Pillow, W. (2003): Confession, catharsis, or cure? Rethinking the use of reflexivity as methodological power in qualitative research. In: International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 16(2), 175-196 Scott, S. et al. (2012): The reluctant researcher: shyness in the field. In: Qualitative Research, 12, 715-734 Urquhart, C. (2013) Grounded Theory for Qualitative Research – A Practical Guide. London, Thousand Oaks, CA; New Delhi, Sage Van de Vijver, F. & Hambleton, R. K. (1996): Translating Tests: Some Practical Guidelines. In: European Psychologist, Vol. 1 (2), 89-99 Van de Vijver, F. & Leung, K. (1997). Mehods and Data Analysis for Cross-Cultural Research. Thousand Oaks/London/New Delhi, Sage. Winchatz, M. R. (2006): Fieldworker or Foreigner? Ethnographic Interviewing in Nonnative Languages. In: Field Methods, 18, 83-97
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