Key Research Questions

Qualiti has four primary research questions. These reflect the social contexts within which research production is located, and raise particular issues for qualitative research methods.

1. How are theory and method(ology) accommodated and employed in inter-disciplinary syntheses?

The nature and application of methodology is, of course, theory dependent. Moreover theoretical frameworks are often discipline specific. In terms of qualitative research methods, disciplines can place different emphases on different strategies for data collection and analysis. Indeed qualitative inquiry can mean rather different things to different disciplinary communities, within and outwith the social sciences. Hence a diverse range of methodological, epistemological and disciplinary positions potentially inform qualitative approaches.

The experience of capacity-building initiatives within Cardiff has highlighted the importance of developing and maintaining theoretical synthesis with/in methodological developments, training and innovations. Working with and across academic disciplines and theoretical frameworks is therefore a priority of for our research programme. We believe it is important to continue to develop and articulate theoretical and epistemological understandings, and to recognise the implications of these for capacity building, the development of (innovative and systematic) methods of inquiry, and methodological dialogues more generally.

2. How can different modes of data be synthesised within substantive research settings and projects?

There are a range of issues concerned with understanding and facilitating integration and synthesis data between different modes of qualitative data, as well as between qualitative and quantitative data. Strategies for working across and between different kinds of data and analyses are increasingly required, as the repertoire of qualitative strategies continues to expand. Seeking analytically meaningful ways of integrating different data modes – including textual, visual, spatial and sound is an important element of our work. At the level of capacity building we are mindful of the need to critically engage qualitative and quantitative researchers in the process of making sense of diverse and multi-modal qualitative data sets.

3. What are the applications of qualitative inquiry for evidence-based research, policy and the development of professional practice?

The synthesis and use of qualitative evidence for informing policy making and professional practice has been the subject of recent critical attention. Moreover qualitative inquiry is uniquely situated to explore and document how qualitative evidence (such as documents and personal testimony) is itself used in everyday social practice. The interdisciplinary, policy and practice orientated research focus with the Cardiff School of Social Sciences provides an excellent base from which to critically examine the opportunities and problematics of utilizing qualitative inquiry with and for policy makers and other stakeholders. Qualiti provides an intellectual base from which to consider the potential for qualitative inquiry to provide genuine and analytically meaningful collaborations and active engagements with policy makers, practitioners, professionals, research participants and other non-academic users.

4. How do the ethical contexts of qualitative inquiry impact upon methodological integration, innovation and communication?

The nature of participation in qualitative research raises particular and distinct questions about the ethical dimensions of social research practice. These are compounded by the wide variety of potential modes of data (including visual and sound data) currently available to social researchers engaged in undertaking some form of qualitative inquiry. Qualiti is paying particular and critical attention to the ethical implications and challenges of methodological innovation, and the communication and use of qualitative inquiry.