Just after final grades were turned in, I took off for the 14th annual Congress of Qualitative Inquiry meeting. One of my mentors (DeAnne Messias) brought this conference to my attention as one of the most diverse conferences there is. And she's right- it's incredible to get to see Kathy Charmaz and Norm Denzin at the same conference as people who have just carried out their first qualitative study. It's a welcoming, safe, creative place, and I always find it restoring. If you followed along on Twitter, you know I was in sponge mode, learning and soaking in everything I could!
One of the sessions I'm still pondering over most was titled "La investigación cualitiva en enfermeria para el logro de la equidad en salud" (Panelists included Veronica Guerra Guerrero, Margarita Del Carmen Poblete Troncoso, Natalie Figueredo Borda, and Mirliana Ramirez-Pereira). It was a fascinating introduction to the challenges of working for health equity in Chile's two-tiered public & private health care system, as well as the challenges of being a qualitative researcher in Latin America. Three out of the four papers presented were auto-ethnographies, a category of research I know little about and have spent less time pondering. Margarita Del Carmen Poblete Troncoso spoke compellingly of auto-ethnography as a self-care strategy for nurses, and for a way to build empathy for patients by using one's own experience to connect with patients more effectively. Nearly a week later I'm still thinking about this panel; I definitely want to spend more time reading and thinking about auto-ethnography in health research.
Wednesday I attended Julianne Cheek's talk titled " Research programs:A way of countering the reductionist effect of "this work is part of a larger project" syndrome on the way qualitative research is thought about and published." Cheek stressed the importance of being honest in writing about mixed methods designs; acknowledging that generally in a mixed methods study one part of the design (usually qualitative, but occasionally quantitative) is supplementary. These supplementary pieces lose much of their meaning when separated from the larger study. Cheek stressed the fact that increasingly, supplemental qualitative components of mixed methods studies are being presented as stand-alone studies; and argued that this contributes to reviewers increasingly misunderstanding qualitative research as primarily being narrow and descriptive. Cheek shared that she had a paper rejected because the reviewer claimed that it did not adhere to "standard" qualitative methodology (Tip: there's no such thing!) and I'm not sure whether I felt more relieved or angry that I'm not alone in having had that experience.
Friday morning I was on my way to a photovoice workshop in the Noyes building. Due to ongoing construction it was hard to find the session room. I dodged my way around painters and scaffolding, and made it to a seat by the 9:30 start time. The moderator stood up and gave an introduction to how this session on "Interwanglings, encounters, interruptions, retellings" came about, and the strange things that come about when we find ourselves in the same place as others, oftentimes unintentionally. I smiled for a minute and lingered a bit to appreciate the irony, then slipped out as quietly and politely as possible to the photovoice workshop I'd intended to attend.
Arguably the most important highlight of the conference was being there at the closing session when Kathy Charmaz received the award for Lifetime Achievement in Qualitative Inquiry. Kathy Charmaz has been one of my research heroes since the first paper of hers I read in Fall of 2010. Her work on constructivist grounded theory has been the foundation of most of my thinking about how to go about doing research. Her insights to what is happening in a text and how to go about coding data are illuminating.
So back to work-with a hundred new ideas about what to read, how to do research, and how to teach.