Issues of Positionality
Good research is driven by the synthesis of one’s passion or interest with a topic that has been under-studied in the professional literature. Out of that synthesis emerges a gap—an area in need of further study that is consistent with your interests—that defines the research problem. Clarifying the research problem takes time, effort, and thought.
Once you have developed your research problem, the research purpose and research question become self-evident.
What also becomes evident is your position with respect to the topic, the question, and what you hope to find. Qualitative research recognizes that the research “space” is shaped by both the participants and the researcher.
… the identities of both researcher and participants have the potential to impact the research process. Identities come into play via our perceptions, not only of others, but of the ways in which we expect others will perceive us. Our own biases shape the research process, serving as checkpoints along the way. Through recognition of our biases, we presume to gain insights into how we might approach a research setting, members of particular groups, and how we might seek to engage with participants (Bourke, 2014, p. 1).
For this Discussion, you will examine a research question based on the purpose for inquiry, a rationale for the study, and issues of positionality.
To prepare for this Discussion:
Consider the research topic you are developing for your Major Assignment 1.
Review Chapter 3 of the Ravitch and Carl text and use Table 3.1 (ATTACHED) , page 69 to help you create a rationale using the questions as your guide.
Review Chapter 3 of the Ravitch and Carl text and specifically use pages 70–76 (ATTACHED) to create a positionality memo to reflect on your relationship to the topic.
Review the Fundamentals of Qualitative Research Methods: Developing a Qualitative Research Question media program as a guideline to help you create a research question.
By Day 3
Transform your notes from your preparation work into FOUR paragraphs and briefly explain in your post the following:
Paragraph 1. Purpose of Study (This must be from a current qual study-Attached)
This section begins with a purpose statement. It will read something like this: “The purpose of the study I am proposing to do is to … (cite specific reference from the study you used).” If a researcher has stated that several areas need further study you select one of them and then present it verbatim, i.e., do not change the language.
Use the table in Discussion 2 for language examples, e.g. explore, understand, describe.
Example: If a researcher stated that further study was needed to explore how women with postpartum depression coped with the depression your purpose might be: “The purpose of this study will be to explore how women with postpartum depression cope with the depression.”
Paragraph 2. Rationale for Study
This is why your study is important. You state why your study needs to be conducted. This is only about the one gap you identified that you will study.
Example: “Studying how women cope with postpartum depression can enhance our understanding of methods that could be developed to help women suffering from postpartum depression.”
Paragraph 3. Issues of Positionality
Positionality has to do with your position relative to the participants in your planned study and the research setting. It refers to your position with respect to education, class, race, gender, culture, and other factors.
Positionality is concerned with the subjectivity you bring to a research setting and thus any bias that could occur in the development of your study (and the analysis of data).
In this section, you describe what could be issues of positionality in your study and how you would address the potential issues.
Example: “I suffered from postpartum depression and will have to bracket my beliefs and opinions on the topic before I develop my interview questions and also when I analyze the data from the study. I do not want any biases I have to creep into the study.”
Paragraph 4. The Research Question (RQ)
The research question places boundaries around what you will study. It takes the purpose of your study and frames it as a question.
Patton’s excellent book (4th edition) has a section beginning on p. 251 titled Framing Qualitative Inquiry Questions, which teaches you what to consider when designing a RQ and gives examples.
Your RQ must be a question that uses the language of your Purpose Statement.
Your RQ must be written as a qual question, i.e., it is not a statement with a question mark at the end. It does not begin with a verb. Here is where Patton’s section is very helpful.
Example: “How did women who experienced postpartum depression cope with their depression?” [Class: note that the study sample would be women who experienced and coped with postpartum depression. We will get into qual sampling in a few weeks.)