Qualitative Research Methods for Psychologists: Introduction through Empirical Studies

Article excerpt

FISCHER , C. T., (Ed.). (2006). Qualitative research methods for psychologists: Introduction through empirical studies. New York: Academic Press. 461 pp. ISBN 13 978-0-12-088470-4. Hardcover, $97.95. Reviewed by Rosemarie Anderson.

In Qualitative Research Methods for Psychologists, editor Constance Fischer and the chapter authors provide a comprehensive presentation of both established and emergent qualitative methods, accompanied by full case demonstrations of each method. Written primarily for students and researchers interested in learning qualitative methods, this highly readable textbook may become a standard reference and classroom favorite.

In the book, which begins with a clear and incisive Introduction, Fischer overviews the field of qualitative methods, defines and characterizes the nature of qualitative research, relays the evolution of qualitative methods within the context of postmodern epistemological perspectives, and describes the practical matters involved in research. These practical matters include choosing a workable research topic, working with a dissertation committee, applying for grants, accounting for personal motives, and evaluating the ethical issues as uniquely applicable to qualitative research. Fischer writes with the savvy authority of years of experience conducting and supervising qualitative research. When I finished reading the Introduction, I sighed with relief. Now, I have an overview of qualitative research methods to give to students and beginning researchers with an honest hope that they will understand what they have read.

Fischer's advice on writing qualitative research reports is particularly helpful to transpersonal researchers using qualitative methods because we are outside the conventional norms on two counts as transpersonal and qualitative researchers. Fischer advises:

Bear in mind that reviewers and later readers may not be familiar with qualitative research. Help them understand why you chose to approach your phenomenon qualitatively. As usual, review the literature and say how a qualitative approach could throw light on identified issues. Acknowledge the limitations of a small number of protocols/participants. Perhaps say that your study could be thought of as a set of case studies. Do not attack traditional research; just say what your qualitative study offers that is not accessible by experimental methods. Be collegial. Explain terms as you go; for example, "By lived world, I mean how one experiences and navigates one's daily situations, influencing and being influenced en route." Answer probable criticism in advance. …