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Reading “Reflexivity” (by Finlay & Gough, 2003)

Monday, June 18th, 2007 @ 8:55 pm
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Posted in  Methodology, Reading

I have been reading this excellent book: Finlay, L. & Gough, B. (2003) Reflexivity: a practical guide for Researchers in Health and Social Sciences. Oxford: Blackwell. As the authors state this book is about how to do reflexivity in practice.The concept and application of reflexivity is a central theme in my research journey given that i could be one of the research participants myself and wanting to be transparent and open towards the meaning making process taking place during the whole process. Before i return the book to the library, i want to record a few quotes that am sure will enrich my future writings:

p.ix: “the etymological root of the word ‘reflexive’ means ‘to bend back upon oneself’. In research terms this can be translated as thoughtful, self-aware analysis of the intersubjective dynamics between researcher and the researched. Reflexivity requires critical self-reflection of the ways in which researchers’ social background, assumptions,positioning and behaviour impact on the research process”

p.1: “Reflexivity is challenging to do. It requires huge efforts on the part of the researcher to idenify and interrogate personal and professional practices.”

p.3: “Reflexivity in qualitative research -where researchers turn a critical gaze towards themselves- has a history spanning at least a century”(moving from introspection towards critical realism, amd then more recently towards postmodern deconstructionism)

p. 5: “as qualittaive researchers we now accept that researcher is a central figure who actively constructs the collection, selection and interpretation of data. We appreciate that research is co-constituted – a joint product of the participants, researcher and their relationship.

p.8:”Those researchers who begin their research with the data of their experience seek to ’embrace their own humanness as the basis for psychological understanding’ (Walsh, R.A (p.335) -1995- The approach of the human science researcher: implications for the practice of qualitative research. The Humanistic Psychologist. 23: 333-44)

p.16: Taking reflexivity as a whole, in its various guises, we can see that it has the potential to be a valuable tool, as something that can help us:

  • examine the impact of the position, perspective and presence of the researcher
  • promote rich insight through examining personal responses and interpersonal dynamics
  • open up unconscious motivations and implicit biases in the researcher’s approach
  • empower others by opening up a more radical consciousness
  • evaluate the research process, method and outcomes
  • enable public scrutiny of the integrity of the research through offering a methodological log of research decisions

(Finley, 2002a. p. 532 – ‘outing the researcher: the provenance, principles and practice of reflexivity. Qualitative Health Research. 12(3): 531-545)


p.17: “Introspection and inter-subjective reflection without critical self-analysis is surely of limited value and open to the charge of self-indulgence”…BE CAREFUL!!!

CHAPTER 2: Deconstructing Reflexivity by Brendan Gough

p23: “at the very least reflexivity implies that the researcher makes visible their individuality and its effects on the research process. There is an attempt to highlight those motivations, interests and attitudes which the researcher has imported to the research and to reflect on how these have impacted on each stage”

p. 26: the concept of countertransference may be especially useful as a way for researchers to gain access to their unanticipated (unconscious) thoughts and feelings pertaining to specific research encounters” (Hollway and Jefferson, 2000)

CHAPTER 5: Navigating multiple research identities: reflexivity in discourse analytic research – by Claire Ballinger

about keeping research diary:

p. 70: the value of maintaining a personal research diary throughout the course of one’s research – a diary in which one records thoughts and feelings as well as events and process – is well recognised (Mason, 1996 – Qualitative Researching).such a diary potentially serves many functions: it acts as a chronological record of both sequence of events and development of thinking;it forms a resource in which tentative ideas can be lodged pending further consideration; and it can also serve a cathartic function when one is intellectually puzzled or plain irritated!”

CHPATER 6 by Harper is good for reflexivity in relation to data analysis!

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