Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Multi-Site Bilingual Team-Based Grounded Theory Research: A Retrospective Methodological Review

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Multi-Site Bilingual Team-Based Grounded Theory Research: A Retrospective Methodological Review

Article excerpt

Proposing a team-based research project is a common part of academic life. As an academic, inviting co-researchers and colleagues to join you in developing a new project is often exciting, allowing for a complementarity of expertise, stimulating conversation and support. However, working within a team context can also lead to misunderstandings, disagreements and unequal distributions of the tasks and power, making project management and teamwork challenging. This article provides an overview of our team's approach to completing a multi-site bilingual qualitative research project and discusses our successes and challenges along the way. Strategies for effective teamwork based on our lessons learned are also provided.

Team-based approaches to qualitative research can enhance the overall quality and rigour of the research design and outcomes through promoting high level conceptual, theoretical and creative thinking leading to rich analyses and interpretations of data informed by diverse perspectives (Barry, Bitten, Barber, Bradley, & Stevenson, 1999; Leavy, 2014). Additionally, participation in team-based qualitative research can be a rewarding experience that leads to increased job satisfaction among team members (Barry et al., 1999). At the same time many challenges, including division of labour (Mauthner & Doucet, 2008), communication, timelines, and adherence to complex protocols across researchers and contexts may be encountered (MacQueen & Guest, 2008). Teams may also encounter practical and logistical issues (Mack, Bunce, & Akumatey, 2008), including the need for multiple institutional ethics reviews, which may pose barriers to consistent implementation of the research design across sites (MacQueen, 2008). Furthermore, both the skill set and "mindset" required for effectively engaging in team-based research may be "alien to many trained qualitative researchers" (MacQueen & Guest, 2008, p. 3).

Mauthner and Doucet (2008) stated that "there is a critical gap in our understanding of academic collaborative processes, making it difficult to ascertain exactly what goes on in practice within teams" (p. 973) and further, that "collaborative processes and practices require greater reflexive attention from team researchers" (p. 974). This article contributes to addressing this gap by presenting a retrospective methodological review of the processes and experiences of the members of a multi-site bilingual research team that employed grounded theory to investigate the professional adaptation of migrant social workers in Canada as they gained experience in new professional practice contexts.

Literature regarding team-based and multi-site grounded theory research is limited though emerging (Conlon, Carney, Timonen, & Scharf, 2015; Fernald & Duclos, 2005; Kinzie et al., 2007; Levitt, Kannan, & Ippolito, 2013; Mauthner & Doucet, 2008; Olson, McAllister, Grinnell, Walters, & Appunn, 2016). For example, Wiener's (2007) chapter in The SAGE Handbook of Grounded Theory (Bryant & Charmaz, 2007) provided us with useful insights around team structure and application of grounded theory methods throughout iterative data collection and data analysis processes. However, literature remains relatively scarce regarding analysis of research team members' experiences of engaging in multi-site team-based grounded theory research specifically. This article contributes to addressing this limitation by exploring the case of a multi-site, bilingual, team-based grounded theory project. The article describes the challenges that emerged during the research process and highlights the strategies to successfully manage potential roadblocks. Leadership and teamwork are identified as being central to successful management and completion of the project. Application of key principles associated with teamwork and leadership in the context of team-based grounded theory are discussed.

The research team consisted of a principal investigator, two co-investigators and graduate student research assistants (Ras) (one or two Ras per site). …

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