Delving into Methodology

  • Ann Webster-Wright
Part of the Professional and Practice-based Learning book series (PPBL, volume 2)


This chapter on methodology begins by reviewing the increasing dissent amongst social researchers about close adherence to research method. I then outline my own position on method in this research, drawing on Mats Alvesson’s argument about the need for “reflexive interpretation” in most empirical research (Alvesson & Sköldberg, 2000; Alvesson, 2002). Following this theoretical and reflexive positioning, issues of quality that influenced the research design and choice of methods are described. The design involves an adapted and extended version of Amedeo Giorgi’s methodology, with some influence from Max van Manen.


Phenomenological Analysis Knowledge Claim Qualitative Researcher Phenomenological Perspective Hermeneutic Circle 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Alvesson, M. (2002). Postmodernism and social research. Philadelphia, PA: Open University.Google Scholar
  2. Alvesson, M., & Sköldberg, K. (2000). Reflexive methodology: New vistas for qualitative research. London; Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  3. Angen, M. J. (2000). Evaluating interpretive inquiry: Reviewing the validity debate and opening the dialogue. Qualitative Health Research, 10(3), 378–395.Google Scholar
  4. Argyris, C., & Schön, D. A. (1974). Theory in practice: Increasing professional effectiveness. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.Google Scholar
  5. Atkinson, P., & Coffey, A. (2004). Analysing documentary realities. In D. Silverman (Ed.), Qualitative research: Theory, method and practice (2nd ed., pp. 56–75). London; Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  6. Atkinson, P.,& Silverman, D. (1997). Kundera's "Immortality": The interview society and the invention of the self. Qualitative Inquiry, 3(3), 304–318.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Baum, F. (2005). Community health services in Australia. In J. Germov (Ed.), Second opinion: An introduction to health sociology (pp. 373–396). Melbourne: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Bourdieu, P. (1996). Understanding. Theory, Culture and Society, 13(2), 17–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Brace-Govan, J. (2004). Issues in snowball sampling: The lawyer, the model and ethics. Qualitative Research Journal, 4(1), 52–60.Google Scholar
  10. Byrne-Armstrong, H., Higgs, J., & Horsfall, D. (Eds.). (2001). Critical moments in qualitative research. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinmann.Google Scholar
  11. Chesney, M. (2001). Dilemmas of self in the method. Qualitative Health Research, 11(1), 127–135.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cope, C. (2004). Ensuring validity and reliability in phenomenographic research using the analytical framework of a structure of awareness. Qualitative Research Journal, 4(2), 5–18.Google Scholar
  13. D’Cruz, H. (2001). The fractured lens: Methodology in perspective. In H. Byrne-Armstrong, J. Higgs, & D. Horsfall (Eds.), Critical moments in qualitative research (pp. 17–29). Oxford: Butterworth-Heinmann.Google Scholar
  14. Denzin, N. K., & Lincoln, Y. S. (Eds.). (2005). The SAGE handbook of qualitative research (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  15. Edwards, R., & Usher, R. (2000). Research on work, research at work: Postmodern perspectives. In J. Garrick & C. Rhodes (Eds.), Research and knowledge at work: Perspectives, case-studies and innovative strategies (pp. 32–50). London; New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  16. Etherington, K. (2004). Becoming a reflexive researcher: Using our selves in research. London; Philadelphia, PA: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.Google Scholar
  17. Fontana, A., & Frey, J. H. (2000). The interview: From structured questions to negotiated text. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), The handbook of qualitative research (pp. 645–672).Google Scholar
  18. Gadamer, H. G. (1965/1979). Truth and method (2nd ed.). London: Sheed & Ward.Google Scholar
  19. Giorgi, A. (1988). Validity and reliability from a phenomenological perspective. In W. J. Baker, L. P. Mos, H. V. Rappard, & H. J. Stam (Eds.), Recent trends in theoretical psychology (pp. 167–176). New York: Springer-Verlag.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Giorgi, A. (1989). An example of harmony between descriptive reports and behaviour. Journal of Phenomenological Psychology, 20(1), 60–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Giorgi, A. (1990). Phenomenology, psychological science and common sense. In G. R. Semin & K. J. Gergen (Eds.), Everyday understanding: Social and scientific implications. London: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  22. Giorgi, A. (1994). A phenomenological perspective on certain qualitative research methods. Journal of Phenomenological Psychology, 25(2), 190–220.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Giorgi, A. (1997). The theory, practice and evaluation of the phenomenological method as a qualitative research procedure. Journal of Phenomenological Psychology, 28, 235–260.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Giorgi, A. (2000a). Concerning the application of phenomenology to caring research. Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences, 14, 11–15.Google Scholar
  25. Giorgi, A. (2000b). Psychology as a human science revisited. The Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 40(3), 56–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Giorgi, A. (2003). Workshop on phenomenology: The philosophy and the method. Quebec: University of Quebec.Google Scholar
  27. Giorgi, A. (2005). The phenomenological movement and research in the human sciences. Nursing Science Quarterly, 18(1), 75–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Giorgi, A. (2009). The descriptive phenomenological method in Psychology: A modified Husserlian approach. Pittsburgh, PA: Duquesne University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Giorgi, A., & Giorgi, B. (2003a). The descriptive phenomenological psychological method. In P. M. Camic, J. E. Rhodes, & L. Yardley (Eds.), Qualitative research in psychology: Expanding perspectives in methodology and design (pp. 243–273). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Giorgi, A., & Giorgi, B. (2003b). Phenomenology. In J. A. Smith (Ed.), Qualitative psychology: A practical guide to research methods (pp. 25–50). London: Sage.Google Scholar
  31. Grbich, C. (1999). Qualitative research in health: An introduction. St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin.Google Scholar
  32. Guba, E. G., & Lincoln, Y. S. (2005). Paradigmatic controversies, contradictions, and emerging confluences. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of qualitative research (3rd ed., pp. 191–215). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  33. Halling, S. (2005). When intimacy and companionship are at the core of the phenomenological research process. Indo-Pacific Journal of Phenomenology, 5(1), 1–11.Google Scholar
  34. Holstein, J. A., & Gubrium, J. F. (1995). The active interview. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  35. Ivarsson, A.-B., Söderback, I., & Ternestedt, A.-M. (2002). The meaning and form of occupational therapy as experienced by women with psychoses. Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences, 16(1), 103–110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Karlsson, G. (1993). Psychological qualitative research from a phenomenological perspective. Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell International.Google Scholar
  37. Kezar, A., & Eckel, P. (Eds.). (2000). Moving beyond the gap between research and practice in higher education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  38. Kleiman, S. (2004). What is the nature of nurse practitioners’ lived experiences interacting with patients? Journal of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, 16(6), 263–269.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Kvale, S. (1994). Ten standard objections to qualitative research interviews. Journal of Phenomenological Psychology, 25(2), 147–173.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Lamont, A. (1995). Bird by bird: Some instructions on writing and life. New York: Random House.Google Scholar
  41. Marshall, J. (2001). Self-reflective inquiry practices. In P. Reason & H. Bradbury (Eds.), Handbook of action research: Participative inquiry and practice (pp. 433–439). London; Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  42. Mays, N., & Pope, C. (2000). Qualitative research in health care: Assessing quality in qualitative research. British Medical Journal, 320(7226), 50–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. McWilliam, E. (2004). W(h)ither practitioner research. The Australian Educational Researcher, 31(2), 113–126.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Mishler, E. G. (1984). The discourse of medicine: Dialectics of medical interviews. Norwood, NJ: Ablex Publishing Corporation.Google Scholar
  45. Patton, M. Q. (2002). Qualitative research and evaluation methods (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  46. Paul, J. L., & Marfo, K. (2001). Preparation of educational researchers in philosophical foundations of inquiry. Review of Educational Research, 71(4), 525–547.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Rydahl-Hansen, S. (2005). Hospitalized patients experienced suffering in life with incurable cancer. Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences, 19, 213–222.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Sandberg, J. (2005). How do we justify knowledge produced within interpretive approaches? Organizational Research Methods, 8(1), 41–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Schwandt, T. A. (2005). A diagnostic reading of scientifically based research for education. Educational Theory, 55(3), 285–305.Google Scholar
  50. Schön, D. A. (1983). The reflective practitioner: How professionals think in action. Aldershot, England: Arena.Google Scholar
  51. Schön, D. A. (1995). Knowing-in-action: The new scholarship requires a new epistemology. Change 27(6), 27–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Silverman, D. (2001). Interpreting qualitative data: Methods for analysing talk, text and interaction (2nd ed.). London: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  53. Silverman, D. (2005). Doing qualitative research: A practical handbook (2nd ed.). London: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  54. Sokolowski, R. (2000). Introduction to phenomenology. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  55. Solomon, N., Boud, D., Leontios, M., & Staron, M. (2001). Researchers are learners too: Collaboration in research on workplace learning. Journal of Workplace Learning, 13(7/8), 274–282.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Sparkes, A. C. (2001). Myth 94: Qualitative health researchers will agree about validity. Qualitative Health Research, 11(4), 538–552.Google Scholar
  57. Suri, H., & Clarke, D. (2009). Advancements in research synthesis methods: From a methodologically inclusive perspective. Review of Educational Research, 79(1), 395–430.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Todres, L. (1998). The qualitative description of human experience: The aesthetic dimension. Qualitative Health Research, 8(1), 121–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Van der Mescht, H. (2004). Phenomenology in education: A case study in educational leadership. Indo-Pacific Journal of Phenomenology, 4(1), 1–16.Google Scholar
  60. Williams, L. (2005). Jostling for position: A sociology of allied health. In J. Germov (Ed.), Second opinion: An introduction to health sociology (pp. 349–372). Melbourne: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  61. Willis, P. (2001). The ‘Things Themselves’ in phenomenology. Indo-Pacific Journal of Phenomenology, 1(1), 1–14.Google Scholar
  62. van Manen, M. (1997a). From meaning to method. Qualitative Health Research, 7(3), 345–369.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. van Manen, M. (1997b). Researching lived experience: Human science for an action sensitive pedagogy (2nd ed.). London, ON: Althouse Press; University of Western Ontario.Google Scholar
  64. van Manen, M. (2001). Professional practice and ‘Doing Phenomenology’. In S. K. Toombs (Ed.), Handbook of phenomenology and medicine (pp. 457–474). Dordrecht: Kluwer Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. van Manen, M. (Ed.). (2002). Writing in the dark: Phenomenological studies in interpretive inquiry. London, ON: Althouse Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Teaching & Educational Development InstituteUniversity of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia

Personalised recommendations