Publication Details

This article was originally published as: Wicks, A and Whiteford, G, Conceptual and practical issues in qualitative research: Reflections on a life history study, Scandinavian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 13(2), 94-100. Copyright Informa Healthcare 2006. Original article available here


Although qualitative research is becoming increasingly popular as a means of understanding not only occupation but also a range of other human health related phenomena, the complex conceptual underpinnings of the paradigm remain relatively unexplored in the literature. This article addresses such a perceived gap. Context specificity, emic perspectives, its iterative nature and power relations are four distinct conceptual dimensions of qualitative research which are discussed. The article also includes reflections on conceptual dimensions and practical issues in relation to a qualitative study which adopted a life history approach. These reflections highlight how the conceptual dimensions underpinning qualitative research guide the process in life history research and shape the experience of life history researchers. The practical considerations which focus on participant qualities, effects on the researcher and the participant-researcher relationship are particularly relevant for potential life history researchers. The article concludes with a discussion on the value of life history as a qualitative research approach for occupational therapy and occupational science.



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