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Dilemmas in Qualitative Research: Finding the Organizing Framework

Dilemmas in Qualitative Research: Finding the Organizing Framework

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Published by Jane Gilgun
Qualitative research involves open-ended approaches where researchers contruct organizing frameworks in the course of collecting and analyzing data. Doing this involves theoretical sensitivity, or having ideas and concepts in your own mind that appear to fit what you see in the data.

In research on violence, I have discovered that perpetrators' accounts of violence are so outside of my experience that I have struggled to find ways to organize findings.

This article discusses those situations where informants experiences are so far from researchers' experiences that we are left wondering how to represent them.
Qualitative research involves open-ended approaches where researchers contruct organizing frameworks in the course of collecting and analyzing data. Doing this involves theoretical sensitivity, or having ideas and concepts in your own mind that appear to fit what you see in the data.

In research on violence, I have discovered that perpetrators' accounts of violence are so outside of my experience that I have struggled to find ways to organize findings.

This article discusses those situations where informants experiences are so far from researchers' experiences that we are left wondering how to represent them.

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: Jane Gilgun on Aug 10, 2010
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved

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Current Issues in Qualitative Research, 1(1)Page 1 of 1
Current Issues in Qualitative Research
 An Occasional Publication for Field Researchers from a Variety of Disciplines
 _____________________________________________________________________________________________ 
Volume 1, Number 1 August 2010 _____________________________________________________________________________________ 
DilemmasinQualitativeResearch:FindingtheOrganizingFramework
byJaneGilgunUniversityofMinnesota,TwinCities,USA
sIwasreadingabookproposaloninterpersonalviolencethatIwroteseveralyearsagoandhaven’tsoughtapublisherfor,theimportanceofanorganizingframeworkcametomind.What’syourpoint?isarelevantquestionwhenfieldresearchersareconfrontingthetaskofwritingupresults.Sometimesinqualitativeresearch,findingthepointyouwanttomaketakestime,evenifthewordsofinformantsarecompellingandsignificant.Someorganizingideaspracticallyjumpintoyourarms,whileothersareelusive.Ihavemanypublishedarticlesonviolence,andforeachofthemtheorganizingframeworkwaseasytoidentify.Itwastheconstructionoftheframeworkthatmadewritingthearticlespossible.Forabookoninterpersonalviolence,however,Ihavenotbeenabletofindanorganizingframework.Theframeworkwouldbecomplexbecauseviolenceiscomplex.IwantthebooktobereadableandmuchoftheinterviewmaterialIhaveonviolenceisdifficulttoreadbecauseofthehorrorsthatinformantsnarrate.Mydilemmais,HowdoIwriteupresearchonviolencesothatotherpeoplenotonlycanbeartoreadthebookbutwilltakeactionbaseduponwhatisinthebook?Ispentalargeportionofmyadultlifelearningaboutthemeaningsofviolencetoperpetratorsandthedevelopmentofviolentbehavior,andIamflummoxedonhowtopresentthismaterialtothegeneralpublicandtootherresearchers.
 ABookthatRequiresanOrganizingFramework
ThebookproposalIhavewrittenbutnotsubmittedtopublishersisanexampleofapieceofwritingthatrequiresanorganizingframework.Theproposalisbasedon24yearsofin-depthinterviewingIdidwithmenwhohaverisksforviolence.Ihavewrittenmanyarticlesfromthisdatasetandhavemanyotherproductsfromtheresearch.Ihavelistedthesepublicationsbelow.IwantthebooktobeacomprehensivestatementofwhatI’velearned.
 A
 
 
Current Issues in Qualitative Research, 1(1)Page 2 of 2
ChallengesofOpen-EndedApproaches
Itisimportant,asmanyqualitativeresearcherspointout,toenterthefieldwithanopenmindandtoworkatnotimposingideasonthematerialuntilyouhaveafirmunderstandingofwhatisgoingon.Inmyheart,Inowhaveanunderstandingofviolence.Yet,IhavecomeupalmostblankintermsofhowtointerpretandorganizemyunderstandingsformyproposedbookandforthetwoarticlesIjustmentioned.Ithinksomeofthematerialmyinformantshavehandedovertomeisoutsideofmyexperienceandthereforedoesnotcorrespondtomeaningsthatareinmymind.Open-endedapproachestoresearchleadtoimportantlearnings,butinsomecases,suchasmine,thematerialissofaroutsideofresearchers’experiencethattheystrugglewithhowtoorganizeitForinstance,inmycase,IwanttoconveymeaningsbutIdonotwanttosensationalizeviolenceandconveysuchhorrorthatnoonecanreadit.
TheoreticalReadiness&TheoreticalSensitivity
I’mconcludingthatforqualitativeresearcherstocomeupwithideastohelpthemtointerpretandorganizetheirfindings,theseideasmustalreadybepresentinsomeformintheirownminds.Istilldon’thaveanalyticframeworksthatsatisfyme.NojournalIknowwillacceptsimplenarrationsofanotherperson’swords,especiallywhenIcan’tmakeanymoresenseoutofthemthantosay,“Willyoutakealookatthis?Canyouimagine?”Idonotwanttopublishabookbasedonfragmented,confusingideas.Inmyownmind,Idonothavetheoreticalreadinesstopublishahelpfulbookonviolence.IcoinedthistermasIwrotethisarticle,andtheremaybeotherswhohavethoughtaboutandwrittenabouttheissueoftheoreticalreadiness.Glaser(1978)talksabouttheoreticalsensitivitywhichroughlymeansthatresearchersalreadyhaveideasintheirmindsthatcorrespondtowhattheyseeintheirresearchmaterial.Ihavebeentheoreticallyblank,intermsofthecomplexsetofideasIknowIrequireifIamtowriteacoherentaccountofinterpersonalviolence,itsmeaningsanditsdevelopment.
WhatIWantinaBookonViolence
IamhopingthatasIreflectuponthebookproposal—which,ifImaysaysomyself,isgood—thatIwillseeananalyticthreadthatwillhelpmebringtheproposaltoasatisfyingconclusion.ThenIcanseekapublisher.Understandingviolenceisahugechallenge.MygoalsaretoconveywhatIhavelearnedinwaysthatwillenergizeothers,first,tounderstandandthentorespondinfirm,yethumaneways.IhavesomehopethatIwilleventuallywriteapaperonaprocessmodelofinterpersonalviolence.Ithinkcognitivesciencewillbehelpful.IhadnoknowledgeofcognitivescienceuntilseveralyearsagowhenIcameacrossanarticleonsocialinformationprocessing(Crick&Dodge,1996)whichledtomeexploretheworkofJohnBargh(Bargh&Chartrand,1999;Bargh&Ferguson,2000)ontheautomaticityofbeing.ThewordsoftheseresearchersputalargerlensonthepatternsIhadobservedinthe
 
 
Current Issues in Qualitative Research, 1(1)Page 3 of 3
wordsofmyinformants.Withoutknowledgeofcognitivescience,Iwasstuckastohowtowriteupmycompellingfindings.I’velearnedfromtheseexperiencesthatmakingsenseoutofqualitativeresearchinvolvesconnectingideastoconcretefindings.Whenfindingsareoutsideofresearchers’experience,thechallengetoorganizeandwriteupfindingsisdaunting–andprobablyimpossibletomeet.
Note:
ThefollowingisalistofacademicpublicationsIhaveonthetopicofinterpersonalviolence.IhavemanymorearticlesandsmallbooksforthegeneralpubliconAmazonKindle,scribd.com,andiBooksforavarietyofmobiledevices.Gilgun,JaneF.(inpress).Reflectionson25yearsofresearchonviolence.
Reflections:NarrativesofProfessionalHelping.
Gilgun,JaneF.(2010).
Childsexualabuse:Fromharshrealitiestohope
.Morrisstown,NC:Lulu.

Gilgun,JaneF.,&AlankaarSharma(2008).Childsexualabuse.InJeffreyL.Edleson&ClaireM.Renzetti(Eds.)
EncyclopediaofInterpersonalViolence
(pp.122-125).ThousandOaks,CA:Sage.Sharma,Alankaar&JaneF.Gilgun(2008).Intheirownwords:Learningaboutchildsexualabusethroughlisteningtoperpetrators.
IndianJournalofSocialWork,69(3),
321-338.Gilgun,JaneF.(2008).Livedexperience,reflexivity,andresearchonperpetratorsofinterpersonalviolence.
QualitativeSocialWork,7(2),
181-197
.
Gilgun,JaneF.(2006).Childrenandadolescentswithproblematicsexualbehaviors:Lessonsfromresearchonresilience.InRobertLongo&DavePrescott(Eds
.),Current perspectivesonworkingwithsexuallyaggressiveyouthandyouthwithsexualbehavior problems
(pp.383-394).
Holyoke,MA:NeariPress.Gilgun,JaneF.(2005).Evidence-basedpractice,descriptiveresearch,andtheresilience-schema-gender-brain(RSGB)assessment 
.BritishJournalofSocialWork.35(6),
843-862
.
Gilgun,JaneF.,&LauraS.Abrams(2005).Genderedadaptations,resilience,andtheperpetrationofviolence.InMichaelUngar(Ed
.),HandbookforworkingwithchildrenandYouth:
Pathwaystoresilienceacrossculturesandcontext 
(pp.57-70).
Toronto:UniversityofTorontoPress
.
Gilgun,JaneF.,DanetteJones,&KayRice.(2005).Emotionalexpressivenessasanindicatorofprogressintreatment.InMartinC.Calder(Ed.),
Emergingapproachestoworkwithchildrenandyoungpeoplewhosexuallyabuse
(pp.231-244).Dorset,England:RussellHouse.Gilgun,JaneF.(2004).Fictionalizinglifestories:Yukeethewinethief.
QualitativeInquiry,10(5),
691-705
.
Gilgun,JaneF.(2004).Qualitativemethodsandthedevelopmentofclinical

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