Image from Jordan Sanchez

I was introduced to qualitative inquiry in graduate school. I took a class with Dr. Mary Juzwik entitled 'Discourse Analysis' and that was exactly the methodology I needed to establish my own work. I combed through hours of text, and heard thousands of words. And I wanted to hear more of what these people had to say, and more importantly how they said it. I then recognized this was my calling because these analyses take so much time and are tedious. But I loved it. My dissertation involved poring over discourse created by a fifth grade teacher and her students over two years in a science classroom. Now, I am still analyzing discourse created by faculty, students and I in a writing workshop. And I am preparing to add the discourse created by students and I in our research project. I'm laughing to myself because realistically, I may not publish these findings until two years from now. But that's qualitative research... not quick and dirty. No, it's long and yes dirty. I call it messy work because there are so many variables to consider... but there is always a path that is tracked to an answer. The girl in blue standing in the forest attending to everything that is around her as a participant but yet standing apart, as an observer. Which stance should she take? How much deeper should she go, or should she pull back? This delicate relationship I share with my data I respect, because if I cling too tightly, I lose the context. But if I loosen my grip, I lose the focal point of my inquiry. 

As a qualitative researcher in psychology, I visualize the answers to my hypotheses, and I do venture into the forest. Often, my answers are mine and do not belong to my participants. The trees that I touch tell me something differently as I walk along the path, slowly and hesitantly. I pause to reflect, and change, and I record why this revision was necessary. My pride is hurt - I do not know all the answers - but if I listen and acknowledge, I believe that I will be guided to the answer that works for my participants and I.

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Quarterly Quote

"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself." ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

"I do take my work seriously and the way to do that is not to take yourself too seriously." ~ Alan Rickman

"We categorized, labeled, and measured ourselves and then made a niche to match. The niche became our boundary, so that our aim became filling niches instead of fulfilling our lives." ~ Virgina Satir