Gaze of our lives

Qualitative Research
October 25, 2002

The title of this new journal sounded intriguing. Is this a journal for or about all qualitative research as distinct from quantitative research? And who might contribute?

The editors state that their scope is wide and that the journal is intended to cover a broad range of social sciences. Since qualitative research methods are on the increase, "we need constantly to apply a critical and reflective gaze". The editors do not see their task as defending the canonical readings of the past but, rather, "to encourage a critical engagement with the orthodox and the heterodox".

Although qualitative research is predominant in social and cultural anthropology, it is rarer, the editors argue, in psychology, economics and political science. They would like to promote exploration of qualitative research in fields that are too often associated with a "restricted methodological vision". Their own research is grounded in the virtues of conventional ethnography, with a focus on participant observation, and they are committed to multiple strategies of data collection and analysis within an ethnographic approach.

Qualitative Research , we are told, will be eclectic; it will publish good papers couched in both traditional forms and radical styles. The editors have set themselves a challenge: on the one hand, they respond to the criticism that journal articles are becoming more homogenised and say they have no intention of letting Qualitative Research become so stultifying; on the other hand, they say they are committed to maintaining the importance of disciplinary knowledge, and do not believe that qualitative research constitutes a substitute for discipline, or that it constitutes a research paradigm in and of itself. They state that they are not committed "to the promotion of sectarian allegiances" within the broad domain of qualitative research.

Later in this first editorial we are told that the journal will be an outlet for, but will not be dominated by, two orthodoxies. There follows an interesting discussion of the topics of grounded theory and computer-assisted qualitative data analysis software.

The editors hope to attract papers from specialised fields - science and technology, health and medicine, sport and leisure, art and culture - that are of interest to qualitative researchers working in other fields. They acknowledge that these fields have their own journals of qualitative research, but they want their journal to complement them by disseminating this kind of research to a wider audience. The first issues contain a broad range of papers, a review essay and a book reviews section. It remains to be seen whether researchers from fields such as science, technology and medicine publish their papers here.

Caroline Selai lectures in clinical neuroscience at University College London.

Qualitative Research

Editor - Paul Atkinson and Sara Delamont
ISBN - ISSN 1468 7941
Publisher - Sage
Price - Institutions £190.00, Individuals £36.00
Pages - (three times a year)

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