The SSRL is known for its expertise in quantitative research, but it’s expanding its view to include qualitative support, too. Part of the reason is CTRL’s mandate from the Provost to support research campus-wide. Many professors use qualitative or mixed methods, as do many students. So how are we expanding our services?

To enhance our qualitative knowledge base, the Research Support Group (RSG) is reaching out to faculty who have experience and expertise in qualitative methods. This week we held our inaugural meeting to cast the vision for faculty-driven qualitative support at AU. It’s just the beginning, but the pooling of knowledge and identification of needs provides RSG direction. If other faculty or doctoral students are interested in qualitative methods, please email SSRL so we can add you to the list.

One of the goals is to take a holistic view of qualitative research. Before a researcher even thinks about analysis (or how to choose the best software to assist with this), there are many steps to consider! Driven by the research question, which method is best? As a researcher decides, he or she may not be aware of some methods or feel under-prepared to execute others. To fill this gap, the group plans to do a research skills and interest inventory across campus. Which faculty members are prepared to share their qualitative method expertise with colleagues?

Another idea to boost awareness and knowledge of qualitative methods options involves research presentations that don’t focus so much on the outcomes, but the methodology used. RSG already hosts a Research Seminar Series and plans to purposively shift the focus of its programming to this. As we select speakers for this spring semester, please know they will not only present their research question and findings. We will ask all speakers to spend about 50% of their presentation talking about methods selection, implementation and analysis.

This is just the beginning, so expect more to evolve. In the short term, if you are interested in – or currently conducting – qualitative research, please know the RSG staff at the SSRL are here to help. Ask us questions and try out NVivo, if you feel it will help you organize your analysis.

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