Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Embedding Researcher's Reflexive Accounts within the Analysis of a Semi-Structured Qualitative Interview

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Embedding Researcher's Reflexive Accounts within the Analysis of a Semi-Structured Qualitative Interview

Article excerpt

Interviewing is a method of collecting qualitative data (Coar & Sim, 2006). UK based studies that interviewed students investigating their motivation for embarking on PhD revealed five main reasons; lack of job satisfaction, career development, personal motives, interweaving research with politics, and drifting in (Brailsford, 2010). Research investigating PhD students' experiences has focused on students' transition to independent learning process. During the PhD journey, students learn great deal about how to cope with PhD stress and challenges (Delamont, Atkinson, & Parry, 2000).

The stress of the first year of the PhD journey is the most crucial; the uncertainty and novelty of the experience are contingent factors in the first year students' experience. Golde (1998) reported that usually PhD students feel incompetent during their f first year of their doctorate. Various factors are involved in first year students' adjustment to the novelty of the PhD experience (e.g. institutional, social, and personal factors; Hockey, 1994).

In this paper, an international PhD student interviewed native PhD colleague examining his experience during the first year of PhD. According to Coar and Sim, (2006) interviewing peers, could possibly challenge some cultural and social assumptions. During the transactions of the interview, power issues exist and shift back and forth between the constituents of the interview. The power of the interviewers lies within his professional expertise and being a knowledge seeker. On the other hand, the power of the interviewee rests in being more or less a knower (Nunkoosing, 2005).

Reflexivity is a self-awareness practice achieved by directing an analytical gaze into the self in an attempt to understand the dynamics between the researcher and the researched. This should extend beyond self-awareness to an in-depth understanding of the social context of the phenomena of interest and the participants of the study through examining the dynamics between them as researched and the researcher (D'Cruz, Gillingham, & Melendez, 2007). Reflexivity is considered to be one of the core bastions of rigor in qualitative research; it involves researchers seeking to make sense of their influence either intentionally or unintentionally over the research process (Jootun et al., 2009).

Qualitative researchers who engage in a self-analytical exercise and relate their position in the world with the phenomena being studied are engaged in what is called positional reflexivity. Methodological rigor, it is argued, can be achieved when the researcher maintains an analytical and skeptical approach to all the possibilities of knowledge and social phenomena, whereby "grantedness" is questioned (Macbeth, 2001).

The social relationship of the researcher to the subject influences the way they interpret the world, and subjectivity is inescapable (Ratner, 2002). Adopting reflexivity in experiential qualitative research helps in formulating the researchers' own understanding of their expectations and assumptions of the research, their relationship with the phenomena being examined, and the participants in the research. Reflexive research involves the researcher in an examination of the constitution of the meanings of the phenomena of interest, whereby the researcher and the researched are within the same order (Shaw, 2010).

Objectives

The objectives of this manuscript rest into:

1. Investigating the experience of a young first year native PhD student

2. Embedding researcher's reflexive accounts within the qualitative analysis of the interview

Significance of This Paper

In this paper, a qualitative interview was conducted with a fellow PhD student to an international PhD student (interviewer) in order to ascertain and understand the former's experiences of studying for his PhD under the age of 25. The interview was conducted as a part of a PhD training course in the School of Health Sciences, University of Nottingham. …

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