Monday, 30 July 2012

Confidentiality in Participatory Action Research

Ive been having an interesting experience writing up the results of a PAR study this week, particularly in regard to issues of confidentiality.

Participatory action research prides itself on dealing with issues of power is research, positioning the partners as equals to the researcher who together co-construct meaning and develop something that can lead to valuable local change.

The possible dilemmas that can arise, however, can mediate against this effort...in my own case, for example, the participants became concerned about identifying as authors on the paper as it would mean people might guess who they were...some wanted authorship and others voted no, leaving us in a quandry..should we change the results so they are less revealing so authorship is possible? should we say no authorship but then they miss out? Its not as void of power as we might think..

Also what to do if the participants are concerned about some of their direct quotes in retrospect...there perspective on the issues may have changed since the research was conducted...should the paper be changed? Is the paper editing meeting another 'interview' ? Should it be coded and integrated into the results?

Friday, 27 July 2012

Going Multiple

Triangulation is one of the core concepts in qualitative research, supporting the production of rigourous, trustworthy studies...there are many ways to do it..it's all about multiple perspectives

-use multiple theories to analyse data to mediate against using only your pet concepts
-use multiple coders, chosen because of different views to add richness to your analysis
-use multiple sources of data to look at a phenomenon from different angles

This week i have helped students design 2 new studies,each taking advantage of these methods

One involves looking at ethical dilemnas clinicians face when having to use the DSM in everyday practice. We are looking at how different professions deal with this, including family therapists, clinical psychologists and psychiatrists. We will have 3 data sources; a survey of a 100 people, in depth interviews with 20 and 3 detailed case studies of work with clients. We will also form a coding committee of representatives from these professions to meet 4 times during the coding process.

The other involved a study of the experience of families admitted to a kids  hospital with a child with anorexia, an admission for those families struggling with standard outpatient family therapy. Our info sources are family interviews, audio-diaries to catch significant moments and videos of family meal sessions, all at three time point before, during and after admissions

These two designs take advantage of multiple sources of data and multiple perspectives and mean that our conclusions will be more robust....

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Paper Alert:Barry (1999) Using Reflexivity to Optimize Teamwork in Qualitative Research

HERE is a great paper, an old one, on use of team work in qualitative research that supports our collaborative coding parties in QRIP!

"Multidisciplinary teams, in particular, result in a broadening of possibilities in
the research: “A multi-faceted investigation can yield more information and be
more exciting than one which is restricted to a single mode of knowing” (Riesman &
Watson, 1964, p. 286). Multidisciplinary teams bring together people whose training calls on highly diverse assumptions and different knowledge bases (Opie,
1997). A team can draw on all the “fore-understandings” of individual members
about the area being researched, giving a wider base from which to explore the data."

What is Ethnography?

I had a great research design meeting with a student and a colleague yesterday where the term ethnography was discussed in reference to a study looking at the cultural appropriateness of Australian parenting training in Africa.

We suggested a participatory and ethnographic framework but what the hell were we talking about when it comes to 'ethnography'?

Ethnography is essentially work done in the actual field, a case study of a social group and has it's origins in anthropology

Data collection is done through multiple sources.... interviews, questionairres but also participant observation (ie: taking your own notes when actually observing the phenomenon under investigation/close up personal experience not distant observation).. particular attention is also taken to interview knowledgeable community members.....

Believe it or not we have a student in our Department wanting to study Reallifesuperheroes...emersing yourself in this community might be ideal for the production of an ethnography, even if it is to some degree an on-line community

 Richardson (2000) provides 5 criteria to evaluate ethnographies
  1. Substantive Contribution: "Does the piece contribute to our understanding of social-life?"
  2. Aesthetic Merit: "Does this piece succeed aesthetically?"
  3. Reflexivity: "How did the author come to write this text…Is there adequate self-awareness and self-exposure for the reader to make judgments about the point of view?"
  4. Impact: "Does this affect me? Emotionally? Intellectually?" Does it move me?
  5. Expresses a Reality: "Does it seem 'true'—a credible account of a cultural, social, individual, or communal sense of the 'real'?

some examples from the recent Issue of the Journal of Contemporary Ethnography

Boredom and Action— Experiences from Youth Confinement


Few studies have examined boredom as a central experience of everyday life. This article adds to the boredom-related literature by examining the role of boredom and boredom-aversion in the everyday life of young people confined in secure care for young offenders. Data are primarily drawn from an ethnographic study in a Danish secure care unit and include both participant observation and interviews with unit residents. Drawing on theories of boredom and young people’s creation of action through risk-taking edgework, the article demonstrates how boredom is a key experience in daily life in secure care. Waiting is a defining aspect of the experienced boredom, and the young people spend much time “doing nothing,” finding it difficult to relate to the unit’s daily routines. Analyses show that the young people deal with the experience of boredom through the generation of risk-taking action. 

Ringing the Chord: Sentimentality and Nostalgia Among Male Singers

  1. Jeffrey Eugene Nash jenash@ualr.edu
    1. University of Arkansas, Little Rock, AR, USA


Singing in barbershop choruses and quartets evokes sentimentality and nostalgia as a means of interpreting the present and establishing an identity as a barbershop singer. In choruses devoted to the preservation of a highly stylized form of singing, a gendered social context shapes the acquisition of identities in the development of relationships. An analysis of the barbershop experience reveals that men, particularly those with common backgrounds, are routinely involved in expressing deep emotions through ritualized means, allowing them to maintain a version of traditional masculine identity. 

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Is the DSM Nasty?

Less than a year now til the next DSM comes out..where do you stand? An evil book that pathologises people or a helpful diagnostic guide?

Just met with a student today who may end up looking at how clincians from a variety of professions compare when it comes to using the DSM, particularly how they resolve any ethical dilemnas that may arise from working ion mental health services that may demand its use.

Ive been very interested to read this critique, a strident one.Zur, O. and Nordmarken, N. (2010). DSM: Diagnosing for Money and Power" Summary of the Critique of the DSM. Retrieved month/day/year from http://www.zurinstitute.com/dsmcritique.html.

DSM: Diagnosing for Money and Power
Summary of the Critique of the DSM

below is an exerpt..

Labeling normal behaviors as mental disorders financially and professionally serve psychotherapists of all theoretic orientations. Following are some examples of how the DSM turns normal behaviors and temperaments into mental illness.
  • Shyness or normal introversion can be diagnosed as "Social Phobia."
  • The individual process of healthy grief might be diagnosed as "Complicated Grief Reaction," if it lasts a tad longer that the amount of time specified in the DSM.
  • Healthy, strong willed or active children are often diagnosed as having "Oppositional Disorder."
  • Children who are restless, non-compliant or not academically oriented are diagnosed with "ADHD."
  • Meaningful and healthy existential angst might be diagnosed as "General Anxiety Disorder" and medicated away.
  • Those with feelings of hopelessness and despair related to the burden of social injustice and poverty might be diagnosed with "Depression."
  • A person who attributes spiritual meaning to a powerful insight could be diagnosed as "Delusional."
  • A woman who is not sexually aroused in relationship to an emotionally disconnected partner could be diagnosed as having "Female Arousal Disorder."
  • Feeling jittery and agitated from drinking too much coffee can be diagnosed as "Caffeine Related Disorder."
  • People, who for reasons of being abused, stressed, uninspired or who simply choose not to engage in sexual activity, are diagnosed as having "Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD)," which is described in the DSM-IVTR. This disorder is characterized by a low level or absence of sexual fantasy and desire for sexual activity. The obvious question is, "Who decides what is a low level?"
  • "Gender Identity Disorder (GID)" is another culturally biased diagnosis in which any behavior that does not fall within the rigid confines of the narrowly defined and preferred sex roles prescribed by most modern western cultures is pathologized. Consideration of normal developmental phases, playfulness and individuality are often harmfully discounted in this restrictive application of diagnostic criteria.