Nadia deGama, Anglia Ruskin University, UK
Sara R. S. T. A. Elias, University of Victoria, Canada
Amanda Peticca-Harris, Grenoble Ecole de Management, France
Criteria for evaluating the rigor and trustworthiness of qualitative research were popularized with Guba’s (1981) focus on credibility, transferability, dependability, and confirmability. These guidelines, however, have been criticized not only for stemming from positivist research—mirroring reliability and validity measures—but also because of the attempt to universally apply these criteria to justify what constitutes good research (e.g. Amis & Silk, 2008; Brinkmann, 2007; Devers, 1999; Johnson, Buehring, Cassell, & Symon, 2006; Tracy, 2010). In this Special Issue (SI), we play with the “virtual cult of criteria” (Tracy, 2010, p. 838), aiming to provoke a conversation about what makes good qualitative research, from different theoretical traditions. As the parameters of what makes for good qualitative research sway, so do the ways in which researchers depict the qualitative research process. However, as Punch (1986) suggests, “[A]uthentic and candid accounts of the backstage story of research projects are few and far between” (p. 18). A number of scholars working within various qualitative traditions (e.g., Behar, 1996; Cole, 2013; Cunliffe & Alcadipani, 2016; Davies & Spencer, 2010; Donnelly, Gabriel, & Özkazanç‐Pan, 2013; Koning & Ooi, 2013; Peticca-Harris, deGama, & Elias, 2016) have begun to unpack how qualitative research is conducted, suggesting that it may not be a politically- or emotionally- neutral or straightforward process. While these scholars have endeavored to problematize the dominant tendency to neuter the research process and to present it as a ready-made and by-plan design, the majority of published qualitative studies continue to omit, sanitize, or gloss over the difficult encounters and micro-politics that researchers inevitably experience in the field, thus marginalizing and stigmatizing these critical experiences.
As Donnelly et al. (2013) have attested in their SI in Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management, there are “stories behind the stories, inclusive of the emotions, frustrations, and challenges that go along with research” (p. 5). We would like to build on this body of research to continue challenging the way in which a certain kind of methodological rigor and relevance has been elevated and privileged within academic research. That is, our objective is to interrogate, unsettle, disturb, and disrupt the idea of parameters, criteria, rigor, and trustworthiness for qualitative research. In doing so, we seek paper submissions that problematize what is good research by revealing dilemmas and choices that we, as researchers, are forced to navigate, some arising from the hegemonic, institutionalized pressures that blanket and silence the political landscape of academia (see Koning & Ooi, 2013). We aim to render the invisible aspects and vulnerabilities of research visible while creating a space for greater methodological pluralism (e.g. Harley, 2015). The result, we hope, is to create a forum for discussion about the alternative ways in which good qualitative methods and methodologies can be imagined, evaluated, and accepted in the broad research community.
We invite submissions that advance qualitative inquiry, either theoretically or empirically, by exposing and exploring researchers’ “blind wanderings” (Van Maanen, 2011, p. 153) and the emotional baggage that they carry as they navigate the research process. As Cunliffe and Alcadipani (2016) suggest, “we need to ‘relax the taboo’” (p. 2) when we share our own emotionally- and politically-laden ‘tales from the field.’ As such, our SI attempts to problematize the process of what makes good research by promoting a new wave of reflections on traditional qualitative questions; in doing so, we hope to turn the interrogative gaze onto ourselves. We are looking for narratives that are critically reflexive of the research process; those that question, for example, our own selfish desires to be the good academic while ignoring not only ourselves, but also others—our research participants.
Overall, paper submissions should aim to answer the following question: How can we problematize and re-conceptualize good research in organization and management studies? We invite papers that explore—but are not restricted to—the following questions:
•How do current expectations and understandings of good research affect the research process? How can these be problematized (if at all) as a means to advance qualitative inquiry and the way we publish our work?
•How is research legitimated as good? What does this process look like and what are the power dynamics at play?
•What are potential tensions arising from the pressure to conduct good research? How are these currently being (mis)managed in academia?
•What propels researchers to hide their research struggles and what are the implications of academic secrets to the research process?
•What ethical dilemmas do qualitative researchers face when trying to do good research? What is the role of corporeality and materiality in good field research? How do researchers’ bodies and material artifacts affect the research process and interactions with research participants?
•How might the current discourse surrounding good research be re-imagined and re-constituted?
The deadline for submission is March 31, 2017. Manuscripts should be a maximum of 10,000 words in length (including tables, figures and references and should conform to the normal submission guidelines for Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management:
Please also note that there will be a pre-submission 2-day paper development workshop for interested authors at Grenoble Ecole de Management in Grenoble, France January 25 – 26, 2017. For those who are unable to physically attend the workshop, we will also be offering this workshop in an online format. The deadline for paper proposals (up to 2 pages) for the writing workshop is November 30, 2016. For further information about the SI or the pre-submission writing workshop, please contact the guest editors of the SI:
Nadia deGama - firstname.lastname@example.org
Sara Elias - email@example.com
Amanda Peticca-Harris – firstname.lastname@example.org
Amis, J. M., & Silk, M. (2008). The philosophy and politics of quality in qualitative organizational research. Organizational Research Methods, 11(3), 456-480.
Behar, R. (1996). The vulnerable observer: Anthropology that breaks your heart. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.
Brinkmann S. (2007). The good qualitative researcher. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 4(1-2), 127-144.
Cole, C. (2013). Stories from the lived and living fieldwork process. Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management: An International Journal, 8(1), 50-69.
Cunliffe, A. L., & Alcadipani, F. (2016). The politics of access in fieldwork: Immersion, backstage dramas, and deception. Organizational Research Methods. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1177/1094428116639134
Davies, J., & Spencer, D. (Eds.). (2010). Emotions in the field: The psychology and anthropology of fieldwork experience. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
Devers K. J. (1999). How will we know “good” qualitative research when we see it? Beginning the dialogue in health services research. Health Services Research, 34(5 Pt 2), 1153-1188.
Donnelly, P. F., Yiannis, G., & Özkazanç‐Pan, B. (2013). Untold stories of the field and beyond: Narrating the chaos. Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management: An International Journal, 8(1), 4-15.
Guba, E. G. (1981). Criteria for assessing the trustworthiness of naturalistic inquiries. Educational Communication and Technology Journal, 29(2), 75-91.
Harley, D. (2015). The one best way? ‘Scientific’ research on HRM and the threat to critical scholarship. Human Resource Management Journal, 25(4), 399-407.
Johnson, P., Buehring, A., Cassell, C., & Symon, G. (2006): Evaluating qualitative management research: Towards a contingent criteriology. International Journal of Management Reviews, 8(3), 131-156.
Koning, J., & Ooi, C. (2013). Awkward encounters and ethnography. Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management: An International Journal, 8(1), 16-32.
Peticca-Harris, A., deGama, N., & Elias, S. R. S. T. A. (2016). A dynamic process model for finding informants and gaining access in qualitative research. Organizational Research Methods, 19(3), 376-401.
Punch, M. (1986). The politics and ethics of fieldwork. London, UK: Sage.
Tracy, S. J. (2010). Qualitative quality: Eight “big tent” criteria for excellent qualitative research. Qualitative Inquiry, 16(10), 837-851.
Van Maanen, J. (2011). Tales of the field: On writing ethnography (2nd ed.). Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.