Reflections of the Old Well on UNC’s campus

13th Annual
Qualitative Research
Summer Intensive

13th Annual
Qualitative Research
Summer Intensive

Reflections of the Old Well on UNC’s campus

13th Annual
Qualitative Research
Summer Intensive

Reflections of the Old Well on UNC’s campus

This event has passed. To see current events on the ResearchTalk calendar visit our Upcoming Events page.

Monday-Tuesday (July 25-26)

Two-Day Courses

Scholar: Mark Vagle

Phenomenology is a way for qualitative researchers to look at what we usually look through. It means being profoundly present in our research encounters, to leave no stone unturned, to slow down in order to open up, to dwell with our surroundings, and to know that there is “never nothing going on.” Because the philosophical ideas that underpin phenomenology can be abstract and sometimes elusive, this course will communicate these topics as concretely as possible. That is, the course will provide techniques, tools, and strategies for cultivating a phenomenology. We will use examples, anecdotes, and exercises to work through and navigate the craft.

To learn about phenomenological research approaches, we will experience a series of data collection tools and strategies such as going on “phenomenology walks,” writing about lived experiences, and interviewing one another. We will explore Vagle’s five-component methodological process for conducting post-intentional phenomenological research—working to make sense of how our phenomena might take shape in various contexts:

  • Identify a phenomenon in its multiple, partial, and varied contexts.
  • Devise a clear, yet flexible process for gathering data appropriate for the phenomenon under investigation.
  • Make a post–reflexivity plan.
  • Read and write your way through your data in a systematic, responsive manner.
  • Craft a text that captures tentative manifestations of the phenomenon in its multiple, partial, and varied contexts.

Finally, we will explore conventional and less-conventional ways to write up our research.

A wide variety of methodological and philosophical texts and examples of phenomenological studies will be on hand for participants to read and discuss during the course. The course is based on Vagle’s book by the same name, Crafting Phenomenological Research (Left Coast Press, 2014).

Scholar: Johnny Saldaña

The wealth of qualitative research methods and strategies for analysis can be overwhelming to beginners as well as those who have experience with qualitative data approaches. This two-day workshop will walk participants through basic approaches to and methods for qualitative inquiry. Primary topics addressed will include:

  • A survey of qualitative data collection methods: interviewing, participant observation, documents/artifacts
  • Qualitative research design
  • A survey of qualitative data analytic methods
  • Writing and presenting qualitative research

Multiple practical and on-your-feet activities will be included throughout the course to provide students with experiential knowledge, skill building, and methods literacy.

Newcomers to qualitative inquiry will benefit from this course by gaining workshop experience in the basic methods of qualitative research for future study and application. Experienced qualitative researchers will benefit from this course by refreshing their knowledge bases of methods, plus observing how introductory material is approached with novices for future applications in the classroom. Course content will be adapted from Saldaña’s Fundamentals of Qualitative Research (2011, Oxford), and Saldaña and Omasta’s textbook, Qualitative Research: Analyzing Life (2018, Sage).

Scholar: Alison Hamilton

Implementation research aims to integrate research findings into practice and policy. In order to improve the quality and effectiveness of routine practice, implementation researchers collect qualitative data about the everyday behaviors and beliefs of practitioners and other professionals, stakeholders, and recipients of services. During data collection, special attention is paid to factors that both facilitate and impede effective execution and implementation of major programs and service delivery. The end goal is to increase the likelihood of uptake, adoption, implementation, and sustainability of evidence-based practices.

To provide foundational knowledge and skill to help facilitate your own work, the course walks through critical components of building and carrying out an implementation research project:

  • Developing appropriate implementation research questions and specific aims
  • Selecting conceptual models
  • Strategizing about study design
  • Determining appropriate, feasible qualitative data collection methods
  • Executing qualitative analytic strategies
  • Generating timely, impactful implementation research products

The application of methodological concepts will be illustrated via examples from implementation research in the context of varied settings such as healthcare organizations, educational institutions, and communities.

Participants will be provided with materials and bibliographies to support the practice of qualitative methods in implementation research.

Scholar: Ray Maietta

The Sort and Sift approach is an iterative process where analysts dive into data to understand its content, dimensions and properties, and then step back to assess what they have learned and to determine next steps. This process of “diving in” and “stepping back” is repeated throughout the analytic process. Researchers move from establishing an understanding of what is in the data to exploring their relationship to the data. To conclude, they arrive at an evidence-based meeting point that is a hybrid story of data content and researcher knowledge.

The Sort and Sift approach is defined by two key analytic shifts qualitative analysts must make over the course of their data work. Shift 1 occurs when analysts move their analytic plans from being driven by what they knew and thought before they collected and engaged with data to allowing data content to define analytic decision-making and directions. Shift 2 occurs as analysts move from processing individual data documents to giving careful thought and attention to what they will present and how this material will be presented to audiences.

This course focuses on a toolkit used during initial phases of data collection. This phase is driven by careful and thoughtful attention to core data segments within each data collection episode and the construction and analysis of episode profiles. Episode profiles feature the use of document inventories, diagrams and memos that work together to provide a detailed picture of the learning opportunities that arise within each individual data collection piece.

Scholar: Margarete Sandelowski

The focus of this course is on concrete, this-is-how-you-might/should-say-it strategies for designing and writing effective and competitive qualitative and mixed-methods research proposals. Qualitative and mixed-methods research proposals are exercises in artful and mindful design, verbal precision, imaginative and informed rehearsal, elegant expression, and strategic disarmament. We will cover principles generic to proposals, and specific ways to communicate the significance, conceptual framing, methodological details (sampling and data collection and analysis plans, plans for optimizing validity and human subjects protections) of, and budget and budget justification for, the planned study.

We will also cover strategies for addressing those aspects of qualitative and mixed-methods research designs likely to arouse the most concern among reviewers less familiar with them, most notably the purposeful sampling frame and generalizability of study findings. This course is appropriate for graduate students and faculty in the practice disciplines (e.g., clinical psychology, education, medicine, nursing, public health, social work) as well as researchers from other fields of study (e.g., sociology, anthropology).

In addition to didactic instruction, handouts, and a suggested reference list, the course will also include an interactive session where participants will have the opportunity, as time permits, to ask questions about their own proposals for problem solving.

Scholars: Kathy Charmaz

What makes one qualitative study much more compelling than others? How can the writing strategies of professional writers help us improve our work? How do you manage to write when you work in a setting that allows scant time for writing? Would you like to expedite analyzing your data and writing your report? Which strategies help you gain acceptance and admiration from your intended audiences? This class addresses these questions.

Qualitative reportage relies on art and science. Learning how to construct an artful rendering of your work increases the power of your analysis. This class covers both professional writers’ tips and tricks and qualitative analysts’ strategies and shortcuts. It will help you develop a more incisive, creative, and clear narrative. Our approach emphasizes how to construct a creative analysis and to write it for varied audiences. You will gain fresh ideas for proceeding with the analysis, integrating your ideas into a cogent, coherent piece of work, and communicating the significance of your work.

This class covers crafting research stories and writing analytic reports, but the two are not separate endeavors. Thus we show how to bring analytic definition and logic to stories and to build imagery, rhythm, metaphor, and surprise into analytic reports. We also cover strategies for developing arguments, writing literature reviews and theoretical frameworks and integrating your manuscripts. Writing abstracts, titles, and introductions share problems and pitfalls. Our agenda includes learning a few tricks to help you resolve these problems and avoid the pitfalls. The last session focuses on choosing journals and publishing houses, preparing your manuscript for submission, and working with editors and reviewers.

This class best serves participants who are in the midst of a qualitative project or have had some experience with qualitative research and have engaged in qualitative coding and memo writing. Writers of all types of qualitative research are welcome. Researchers who conduct ethnographies, use discourse analysis, engage in narrative inquiry, follow grounded theory strategies, or create personal narratives will all gain ideas and strategies to advance their work. 

Wednesday (July 27)

One-Day Course

Scholar: Trena Paulus

From social media to online support groups to learning at a distance, conversations on the Internet have
long been of interest to qualitative researchers in a variety of fields. Though a majority of research in
this area relies on content analysis methods, this course will present a variety of qualitative methods for
analyzing online conversations.

We will introduce a research framework for analyzing online conversations, an approach designed to
assist researchers in creating conceptually congruent research designs to answer important questions
about what is happening in online conversations. More specifically, the framework will help participants
learn how to:

  • Identify an object of interest for investigation
  • Recognize philosophical and theoretical assumptions that impact research design
  • Create focused and relevant research questions
  • Ensure methodological alignment across aspects of the study design
  • Resolve ethical dilemmas surrounding the analysis of online conversations
  • Transform online conversations into a coherent dataset
  • Select appropriate technologies for working with the data
  • Analyze data using thematic, narrative and discursive techniques
  • Establish the quality of the findings

Relevant course material will come from Researching Learning, Insight and Transformation in Online
(forthcoming in 2018, Routledge).

Scholar: Paul Mihas

This course focuses on developing codes and integrating memo writing into a larger analytic process. Coding and memo writing function as simultaneous and fluid tasks that occur during actively reviewing of interviews, focus groups, and multi-media data. We will discuss deductive and inductive codes and how a codebook can evolve, that is, how codes can emerge and shift unexpectedly during analysis. Managing codes also includes developing code connections and possible hierarchies, identifying code “constellations,” and building multidimensional themes.

Our discussion of codes will include the following topics:

  • The importance of code names and definitions
  • Deductive, inductive, and thematic codes
  • How many codes are too many?
  • How broad or specific should codes be?

Memos function as deep reflections that capture nuanced thoughts and cumulative reactions to data. Memo writing strategies help us capture analytical thinking, inscribed meaning, and cumulative evidence for emerging meaning. Memos can also resemble early writing for reports, articles, chapters, and other forms of presentation. Researchers can also mine memos for codes and incorporate memos in building evocative themes and theory. The following types of memos and memo-writing will be discussed in an effort to offer strategies to begin applying these techniques to your own work: holistic memos, positionality memos, statement memos, thematic memos, and memos that engage critical data segments.

Scholar: Johnny Saldaña

An arts-based approach can enrich our understanding of how people experience their worlds. When the audiences of our research hear poems and see plays that portray the themes and meanings in our data, they witness the power of nuance and the integrated nature of qualitative findings. Our audiences become more present in our story telling and are more likely to absorb the multi-dimensional messages we convey.

Johnny Saldaña, one of the best known practitioners of this research tradition, will guide participants through improvisational and writing exercises to explore how dramatic texts add credibility and make presentations more vivid and persuasive. These skills will help researchers document and represent fieldwork ranging from education to health care.

The course will also provide a literature review of exemplary play scripts and videos in research-based theatre; methods of dramatizing field notes and adapting interview transcripts; and the developmental process of autoethnographic monologues. Throughout, Saldaña emphasizes the vital importance of creating good theatre as well as good research for impact on an audience and performers.

Key figures in qualitative inquiry, Norman Denzin and Yvonna Lincoln, endorse the arts-based research techniques outlined and supported in this course as a powerful way for ethnographers to interrogate and represent the meanings of lived experiences.

No prior theatre or performance experience is needed to participate in this workshop.

Scholars: Alison Hamilton

Interview/focus group guides are tools for prompting people to share their stories and perspectives on particular topics. This course will position you to develop an active posture toward initial development of an interview/focus group guide and prepare you to engage actively and evolve the fit of your guide to what you experience and learn in the field.

The eight strategies listed here will serve as an action plan to accomplish this goal:

  1. Aligning
  2. Following
  3. Preparing
  4. Shifting/adjusting
  5. Opening
  6. Closing
  7. Asking
  8. Processing

Aligning: What is the overall point of the interview or focus group? How do the questions in your interview/focus group guide assist you in achieving project goals?

Preparing: Who are your participants? How does knowledge of the participants inform questioning format and approach? How do you ensure (e.g., through pilot testing, think-aloud methods) that the questions you develop are relevant and aligned with project goals? How do you foster a sense of ownership for participants in the data collection experience?

Opening: What are ways to open the conversation appropriately and comfortably?

Asking: What do you ask participants when and why? What questions open conversation topics? When and how do you probe and ask for further detail and example?

Following: How do you manage the conversation in a way that allows you to follow your participants’ unfolding narratives while keeping them interested and involved in their own story telling?

Shifting/adjusting: When and why do you make adjustments to the interview or focus group? How can you shift your approach, language, and direction on the spot as you listen to people’s unfolding narratives?

Closing: How can you naturally and affirmatively reach the conclusion of the data collection episode?

Processing: How do you track and understand the evolution of your interview/focus group guide and process the meanings these changes have for your project?

Employing these strategies through the life of your project will enhance the quality of the data you collect. This practice will also help you to understand how the conversations occurring during data collection fit what is currently known about, and practiced in, your field.

Scholar: Margarete Sandelowski

The focus of this two-day course is on primary mixed methods studies and programs of research. We will cover misconceptions about mixed methods research, key points of interface between “qualitative” and “quantitative” methods and data, and the problems posed by the qualitative/quantitative binary foundational to the “mix” in mixed methods. Also covered will be issues concerning and techniques for combining: purposeful and probability sampling frames; minimally structured and open-ended and highly structured and closed-ended data collection approaches; textual and statistical analysis strategies; and approaches for the integration of diverse data sets, including linking and assimilation techniques.

This course is appropriate for graduate students and faculty in the practice disciplines (e.g., clinical psychology, education, medicine, nursing, public health, social work) as well as researchers from other fields of study (e.g., sociology, anthropology). In addition to didactic instruction, handouts, and a suggested reference list, the course will include an interactive session where participants will have the opportunity, as time permits, to ask questions about their own mixed methods research projects.

Scholar: Mark Vagle

This workshop will explore what “lived experience” means for qualitative researchers and how we can study the world as it is lived, not the world as it is measured, transformed, represented, correlated, and broken down. In paying close attention to lived experience, we are interested in the felt and sensed aspects of our participants’ and our own experiences, as well as the contextual aspects in which these experiences are lived. How can we listen to and make sense of this significance and use it in our qualitative research?

We will identify lived experiences that we are interested in studying and use theoretical tools from phenomenological traditions to explore how we can open up, wonder about, and understand these experiences more deeply. We will treat theorizing as an active and generative process of exploration.

We will also put these theoretical tools to use in our data collection processes—focusing on observing and interviewing lived experiences. As a concrete example, we will spend time exploring how various visual and popular media can serve as data for studying lived experience. With data from some of Vagle’s current studies of social class lived experiences in schools and communities, we will further practice data analysis using the theoretical tools we have learned. Participants are also encouraged to bring their own data and/or research ideas so they can apply these tools and techniques to their work.

Thursday-Friday (July 28-29)

Two-Day Courses

Scholar: Johnny Saldaña

Being in conversation with qualitative data can include identifying ideas that spark meaning, insight, and sense-making. This two-day workshop focuses on a range of selected methods of coding qualitative data for analytic outcomes that includes patterns, categories, themes, processes, causation, and diagrams. The workshop will address:

  • Various coding methods for qualitative data (with an emphasis on interview transcripts)
  • Analytic memo writing
  • Heuristics for thinking qualitatively and analytically

Manual (hard copy) coding will be emphasized with a discussion of available analytic software for future use. Workshop content is derived from Saldaña’s The Coding Manual for Qualitative Researchers (3rd ed., 2016, Sage).

Scholar: Mark Vagle

At first blush, decisions regarding data collection can seem straightforward and clear. In this workshop, we will consider how data collection is more complicated and dynamic than it may first appear. We will begin by cultivating a set of principles that can direct a comprehensive approach to designing and carrying out qualitative data collection projects.

Four core data collection principles:

  1. Successful data collection depends on how we as researchers employ a posture of openness, flexibility, and responsiveness in our data collection practices.
  2. The phenomenon (case, problem, context, etc.) possesses properties, dimensions, and dynamics that we must become aware of as a first step to directing decision making that will continue throughout the data collection process. In other words, the phenomenon calls for how it should be studied.
  3. Considerations of ethical, political, and social implications related to our study, our participants, and the communities in which our study is located must guide and direct our practices. Paying attention to these issues from the onset encourages a posture of inclusiveness and avoids potential obstacles that arise from a disconnect with study participants.
  4. Researcher reflexivity throughout the data collection process helps us distinguish what is purely in and directed by the data and how our attitudes and behaviors, intentionally or not, may direct our practices.

Using these principles, we will work through a number of ways to talk to people (interviews, focus groups, informal conversations); observe people and places (structured, semi-structured, unstructured, short-term, long-term, participatory); and examine artifacts (content analysis, policy analysis, discourse analysis). In addition, we will consider how forms of visual art, film, popular media, historical documents, poetry, and theory can be used as important forms of data collection in qualitative research.

Scholar: Trena Paulus

This course introduces participants to how both free and proprietary technologies can be used to create innovative workflows to support the entire qualitative research process. This includes becoming networked scholars through a variety of social media platforms; engaging in a paperless literature review by using cloud storage, citation management software, annotating apps and data analysis software; collecting data with mobile apps; transcribing with state-of-the-art innovations; selecting the right qualitative data analysis software; and writing research reports through storyboarding.

Not only will participants gain a comprehensive introduction to the most recent digital tool developments as they apply to qualitative research, but, through detailed demonstrations by the instructor, they will also learn how to analyze critically the affordances and constraints of such tools and the ethical implications of their use. Participants will get a sneak peek of Doing Qualitative Research with Digital Tools, forthcoming from Sage in 2019.

Topics and tools will include:

  • Networking through academic social media platforms (, Google Scholar profiles, and ResearchGate)
  • Developing a paperless literature review process using cloud storage (Dropbox), citation management software (Mendeley), annotating apps (GoodReader), and QDAS tools (ATLAS.ti 8)
  • Collecting data through mobile apps (ATLAS.ti, Evernote), social media sites (Twitter), and GeoDocs (Google Earth)
  • Transcribing in ways that synchronize the media file with the text (Inqscribe and Youtube) and enable “hands-free” transcription (Dragon Dictate and Google Voice)
  • Selecting an appropriate qualitative data analysis software package (e.g. DeDoose, ATLAS.ti, MAXQDA, NVivo, Quirkos)
  • Managing the writing process through storyboarding (Scrivener)

The purpose of the workshop is to provide a comprehensive demonstration, rather than a tutorial, of how these digital tools can support efficient, effective, and theoretically-grounded methodological work.

Scholars: Kathy Charmaz

This class introduces grounded theory methods from a social constructionist approach to new and experienced qualitative researchers. You will gain practical guidelines for handling data analysis, a deeper understanding of the logic of grounded theory, and strategies for increasing the theoretical power and reach of your work. I treat grounded theory as a set of flexible guidelines to adopt, alter, and fit particular research problems, not to apply mechanically. With these guidelines, you expedite and systematize your research. Moreover, using grounded theory sparks fresh ideas about your data.

The sessions cover an overview of basic guidelines and hands-on exercises. I offer ideas about data gathering and recording to help you obtain nuanced, rich data. We discuss relationships between qualitative coding, developing analytic categories and generating theory and attend to specific grounded theory strategies of coding, memo-writing, theoretical sampling, and using comparative methods. You will receive guided practice in using each analytic step of the grounded theory method.

If you have collected some qualitative data, do bring a completed interview, set of fieldnotes, or document to analyze. If you do not have data yet, we will supply qualitative data for you. If you prefer to use a laptop for writing, bring one, but you can complete the exercises without a computer.

Scholar: Alison Hamilton

A researcher or research team pursues a mixed methods approach to understand a given topic or phenomenon more deeply when numbers or narratives alone do not provide a complete picture. Combining qualitative and quantitative approaches can enhance conversations about theory and/or inform the evolution of practice and policy. This complex and demanding research paradigm requires knowledge, skill, and expertise in quantitative and qualitative methods, as well as the art of carefully integrating the approaches to and findings from each mode of inquiry.

This course focuses on strategies, tips, and best practices to accomplish this integration in accessible and effective ways, including:

  • Rationales to guide decision-making related to study design and execution.
    For example:
    • Will the qualitative and quantitative data collection efforts occur concurrently or sequentially, and why?
    • Will either the qualitative or quantitative be privileged or will each contribute equally to answering the research questions and generating the project’s final products?
    • How can the mixed methods study be designed to maximize the potential for synergy among the different types of data?
  • Conceptual, theoretical, and/or logic models as roadmaps to set the stage for and guide integration
    • How can the model—and the language of the model—be developed to reflect interdisciplinary inputs?
  • Analytic strategies that advance frameworks and dynamic processes of connecting, building, merging, embedding, and bridging.
    For example:
    • The power and role of using data displays and visual diagramming during the analytic process
    • How can tensions in mixed methods results be addressed creatively, to foster meaningful products?

Scholars: Ray Maietta and Kevin Swartout

In every qualitative project there is a point where analysts move from processing individual data documents to giving careful thought and attention to what content they will present and how this material will be presented to audiences. Phase 2 of ResearchTalk’s Sort and Sift, Think and Shift analysis process is driven by a toolkit that directs this important shift in the analysis process. This toolkit can be used regardless of whether or not you employed earlier phase Sort and Sift techniques.

A first beneficial step in this transition involves mining through memos, code topics, document summaries and episode profiles. As researchers review their analytic work, memoing and diagramming techniques help them discover, understand and document important connections within and across data documents.

A second component of this transition features a question and answer procedure we call “bridging.” Two bridging tools we highlight are a “story evolution tool” and a “code combination tool.” The story evolution tool introduces a process of interrogating data to understand better how key actors, places, time periods, actions, attitudes and emotions interact in the lives of our participants. The code combination tool introduces a set of techniques to discern shared meaning between and among code categories.