Publication Details

Carter, S. M., Jordens, C. F. C., McGrath, C. & Little, M. (2008). You Have to Make Something of All That Rubbish, Do You? An Empirical Investigation of the Social Process of Qualitative Research. Qualitative Health Research, 18 (9), 1264-1276.


In this article, we examine participants' talk about qualitative research. We provide empirical support for post-structural theorizations of the interview and propose three distinct but related dimensions of qualitative research: emotional, purposive/relational, and epistemic/ontological. In this study, participants often became upset but constructed participation as enjoyable and cathartic. The purpose of participation was to assist the communities to which one belonged. Participation was an active, reflexive practice that reconstructed the self and changed knowledge about one's self. This latter epistemic/ontological dimension of participation appeared to be the most compelling for participants, but it is also the hardest to observe, with implications for how we consider the costs and benefits of participation. We suggest two practical measures for researchers and institutional review boards to consider in light of our findings: routinely asking questions about the research experience in qualitative studies and reformulating patient information statements to particularize them to qualitative research.



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