First Euro­pean con­fer­ence on qual­i­ta­tive re­search

The Malta Business Weekly - - FRONT PAGE -

Mem­bers from the Univer­sity of Malta’s Depart­ment of Coun­selling, to­gether with Ph.D. stu­dents within the Fac­ulty for So­cial Well­be­ing, at­tended the first Euro­pean Con­fer­ence on Qual­i­ta­tive Re­search in Leu­ven Bel­gium.

Af­ter 12 suc­cess­ful edi­tions of the In­ter­na­tional Congress of Qual­i­ta­tive In­quiry at Illi­nois Univer­sity, this first Euro­pean edi­tion was hosted be­tween 7 – 9 Fe­bru­ary in Leu­ven, Bel­gium.

This was a unique event for shar­ing knowl­edge and seek­ing new col­lab­o­ra­tion and part­ner­ships. It pro­vided op­por­tu­ni­ties for ad­dress­ing com­mon chal­lenges qual­i­ta­tive re­searchers are fac­ing in their own coun­tries, in­sti­tu­tions or re­search dis­ci­plines.

The ICQI ethos and ra­tio­nale in­clude of­fer­ing a space where con­fer­ence par­tic­i­pants may feel com­fort­able ex­per­i­ment­ing with new ideas and crit­i­cal thoughts and an op­por­tu­nity to push and chal­lenge bound­aries of what is cur­rently per­ceived as best prac­tice in qual­i­ta­tive re­search.

The Depart­ment of Coun­selling is com­mit­ted to strength­en­ing the qual­i­ta­tive re­search agenda in Malta and abroad. It was there­fore im­por­tant that its mem­bers at­tend this con­fer­ence. Con­fer­ence con­tri­bu­tions ad­dressed qual­ity and re­flex­iv­ity in qual­i­ta­tive in­quiry, cri­te­ria and frame­works used to judge one’s and oth­ers’ work, emerg­ing ar­eas of qual­i­ta­tive method­olog­i­cal in­no­va­tion and new ways of con­cep­tu­al­iz­ing qual­i­ta­tive in­quiry.

An out­come was the value of flex­i­ble, emerg­ing and pro­gres­sive ap­proaches to qual­i­ta­tive re­search, de­vel­oped in re­sponse to the of­ten chal­leng­ing top­ics ex­plored. There­fore, provoca­tive, cre­ative and crit­i­cal pre­sen­ta­tions and dis­cus­sions to­wards es­tab­lished re­search tools of qual­i­ta­tive re­search ap­proaches were ex­pe­ri­enced.

The Mal­tese group mem­bers were par­tic­u­larly struck by a group pre­sen­ta­tion, Brexit: Re­searchers re­spond fa­cil­i­tated by Dr Jonathan Wy­att from the Univer­sity of Ed­in­burgh. This group in­cluded Pro­fes­sor Jean­nie Wright, a mem­ber of the Depart­ment of Coun­selling.

This was a re­flec­tive, evoca­tive and emo­tive re­ac­tion to what the fu­ture holds for Bri­tish cit­i­zens. The ques­tions, which were ex­ten­sively dis­cussed, in­cluded: “But what does the Brexit ref­er­en­dum de­ci­sion mean for qual­i­ta­tive re­search and re­searchers? How does it af­fect the way re­searchers think, write and carry them­selves?” How might Brexit in­form how re­searchers the­o­rise and pro­duce knowl­edge? Par­tic­i­pants were en­cour­aged to re­flect on “what im­pact the Brexit ref­er­en­dum process and out­come has on me”.

Con­clu­sions reached among those present dur­ing this sym­po­sium in­cluded the im­por­tance of ac­tivism as a moral re­spon­si­bil­ity and a so­cial jus­tice is­sue.

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