16th Annual
Course Descriptions

July 22 - July 26, 2019
The Carolina Inn, Chapel Hill, NC

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

Monday-Tuesday (July 22-23)

Two-Day Courses

Scholar: Johnny Saldaña

Dates: Monday-Tuesday, July 22-23

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

Dates: Monday-Tuesday, July 22-23

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 carrying out phenomenological research. 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:

  1. Identify a post-intentional phenomenon in context(s), around a social issue.
  2. Devise a clear, yet flexible process for gathering phenomenological material appropriate for the phenomenon under investigation.
  3. Make a post–reflexion plan.
  4. Explore the post-intentional phenomenon using theory, phenomenological material, and post-reflexions; and
  5. Craft a text that engages the productions and provocations of the phenomenon in context(s), around a social issue.

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 (2nd ed., 2018, Routledge).

Scholar: Alison Hamilton

Dates: Monday-Tuesday, July 22-23

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 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
  • Determining when, why and how to apply conceptual models
  • Strategizing about study design
  • Selecting 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. The course will draw on material from the recently released National Cancer Institute white paper on which Dr. Hamilton is an author (available here).

Scholar: Cheryl Poth

Dates: Monday-Tuesday, July 22-23

Mixed methods research requires specialized skills that place qualitative and quantitative knowledge in a dynamic and deliberate conversation with each other yet also builds upon existing research skills in each realm. This course will engage discussions of perceived (and real) challenges when designing, executing, and disseminating mixed methods research.

We will consider three key questions:

  1. What distinguishes quality mixed methods research designs from other types of research?

  2. How can researchers avoid common pitfalls when executing and publishing mixed methods studies?

  3. What recent advances in mixed methods research can be incorporated into proposals, practices, and manuscripts?

Knowledge of and experience with the issues raised in these questions will maximize the quality of your designs, feasibility of your procedures, and avenues for disseminating your completed mixed methods research.

Participants are encouraged to bring a study idea or preliminary draft of a proposal or paper that they can explore during the workshop. Workshop content is derived from diverse sources including Poth’s text: Innovation in Mixed Methods Research (2018, Sage) and Poth’s open access article: The curious case of complexity: Implications for mixed methods research practices (2018, International Journal of Multiple Research Approaches, 10(1), pp. 403-411). A suggested reference list will be provided.

Scholar: Margarete Sandelowski

Dates: Monday-Tuesday, July 22-23

The focus of this course is on the highly diverse approaches to inquiry encompassed in what is commonly referred to as qualitative research. We will cover the philosophical/theoretical bases of and techniques associated with those qualitative research methods most commonly used in the practice disciplines, including qualitative description, grounded theory, ethnography, and narrative methods. Exemplar studies will be used to illustrate the execution of the methods featured. We will also consider the varied assumptive bases of key components of research designs such as sampling, generalization, and validity, as well as of the major domains of data collection and sources, including interviews, participant observation, documents, and artifacts/materials.


Scholars: Rashawn Ray

Dates: Monday-Tuesday, July 22-23

Social scientists are trained to illuminate social problems, but rarely are we trained to identify potential policy prescriptions for the problems that we highlight. This situation is beginning to change as social scientists increasingly aim to contribute to social justice by helping to shape interventions that can be useful to local, state, and federal stakeholders. We can use qualitative research via stories, first-person accounts, in-depth interviews, content analysis, and observations to draw attention to underlying mechanisms that define social problems. Once uncovered, deeper understanding of these mechanisms can guide large-scale surveys, direct responses to requests for proposals by private foundations and government agencies, inform policy briefs, and even influence new legislation. In this regard, it is important for qualitative researchers to think beyond simply highlighting problems in order to also develop skills that leverage our work in ways more directly impact people’s everyday lives.

We will discuss qualitative processes to better position course participants in their efforts to design and collect data specifically aimed at contributing directly to social justice. Three timely issues—obesity, racial disparities in policing, and men’s treatment of women—will be paralleled throughout the course as examples of how decision making across the methodological life of a qualitative project can be leveraged to address social problems.

The course will cover the following topics:

  • Topic decision making: What part(s) of the social problem can and should be studied?
  • Choosing participants: Who should the participants be? How will you gain access?
  • Designing data collection strategies: For research on sensitive topics, how do you shape data collection guides? How do you obtain IRB approval? Which research methods and procedures are most ethical, efficient, and effective?
  • Developing an analysis plan: How can you capture the holistic stories of participants’ experiences?
  • Disseminating results: How can you develop convincing arguments regarding policy and practice?
  • Planning and implementing interventions: How can findings be used to inform interventions and policy prescriptions?

Wednesday (July 24)

One-Day Courses

Scholar: Fred Bonner

Date: Wednesday, July 24

One of the most critical topics that researchers must address is how to frame and operationalize a research agenda. From developing a researchable topic to revising and resubmitting a peer-reviewed publication, understanding the complexities of navigating the research terrain is key. This course will focus on the critical steps necessary to develop an active and strategic research agenda. This course is ideally targeted for those establishing a qualitative and/or mixed methods research agenda.

Participants will engage in both theoretical and practical considerations in an effort to divine strategies leading to the development of a clear and concise research agenda.

Specific objectives of the course include:

  • To understand how to position and sustain a research agenda
  • To understand the publication process
  • To provide participants with tools to move their research agenda forward
  • To understand the importance of mentoring
  • To understand the importance of and practices for establishing networks

Topics that will be addressed include:

  • Framing and maintaining a research agenda
  • Writing for publication
  • Successful mentoring approaches
  • Establishing networks
  • Preparing the tenure and promotion dossier
  • Skillsets to be successful in academia
  • Time management and work/life harmony
  • Additional topics generated by our assembled participants

Scholar: Mark Vagle

Date: Wednesday, July 24

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.


Scholar: Cheryl Poth

Date: Wednesday, July 24

The course will cover an array of strategies addressing the lifecycle of a mixed methods study, from the study rationale to plans for dissemination.

We will engage the following:

  • Refining a study rationale for the need for integration
  • Thinking through a design for effective integration
  • Executing rigorous integration procedures
  • Presenting integrated findings both visually and in writing
  • Planning strategic disseminations based on the mixed insights

Participants are encouraged to bring ideas for mixed methods studies that they can explore during the workshop. Workshop content is derived from diverse sources including Poth’s chapter in the forthcoming Handbook of Mixed Methods Research Integration: Mixed Methods Integration in Times of Complexity (2018, Routledge). A suggested reference list will be provided.

Scholar: Ray Maietta and Paul Mihas

Date: Wednesday, July 24

The Sort and Sift, Think and Shift qualitative data analysis approach, created by Ray Maietta and his consulting team at ResearchTalk Inc., 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 in order to bridge findings with current conversations in their field and to assess implications for practice. The method combines tenets and practices from phenomenology, grounded theory, case study and narrative research. The ResearchTalk team has utilized and taught this approach for over a decade to qualitative researchers across disciplines and industries.

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.

Each phase of the Sort and Sift method features a toolkit to facilitate analytic activities.

  • The “Diving In” toolkit features tools to use as you read, review, recognize and record your observations during data review.
    1. Quotation identification and data inventory – finding powerful quotations in your data and creating an inventory of powerful data segments for each data collection episode
    2. Diagramming as an analysis tool – using visual diagrams to think aloud about connections in data and ‘bridging’ key ideas in your analysis
    3. Memoing – writing for discovery
    4. Episode profiles – using diagrams and memos to create visual and written sketches of data collection episodes
    5. Topic monitoring – creating and managing topics, themes and attributes

    The “diving in” tools of the Sort and Sift method are necessarily interdependent and synergistic.

  • The “Stepping Back” toolkit features tools to use as you reflect, re-strategize and re-orient after your “diving in” phases of analysis.
    1. Mining – mining through memos, topics, document summaries and episode profiles.
    2. Bridging – discovering connections within and across data documents.
      • Story Evolution Tool – interrogating data to understand better how key actors, places, time periods, actions, attitudes and emotions interact in the lives of our participants.
      • Concept Combination Tool – using the Sort and Sift tools to discern shared meaning across developing ideas.
      • Reflection Tools – using memoing and diagramming techniques to help discover, understand and document.

    The “stepping back” tools of the Sort and Sift method are necessarily interdependent and synergistic.

The iterative back and forth between these phases allows you to bridge emergent findings and concepts to conversations and practices currently engaged by your colleagues.

Scholar: Alison Hamilton

Date: Wednesday, July 24

Rapid turn-around qualitative research depends on strategic decision-making to make data collection and analysis feasible without compromising depth of inquiry. In this vein, we build skills for being responsive to what is happening in the field—emphasizing methodological flexibility and remaining attentive to opportunities for emergent discovery. To excel at these projects, researchers must not only understand how to gain timely access to relevant settings and populations, they must also efficiently document the evolution of data collection and analysis. This serves as a bridge to preparing research products for different types of stakeholders throughout the life cycle of a project.

This course will provide participants with resources for building the foundational qualitative knowledge necessary for this work as well as strategies and tools for increasing methodological flexibility and managing the rigor of data collection and analysis.

Scholar: Johnny Saldaña

Date: Wednesday, July 24

Qualitative researchers have a broad palette of writing styles we can use on an as-needed basis for the investigative or compositional task at hand. Eclecticism is an essential skill for documenting social inquiry. The more diverse our expressive repertoire, the more each mode informs the others and the more credible, vivid, and persuasive our accounts.

In this one-day workshop, participants will gain in-class experience with twelve different writing styles for qualitative research reportage, ranging from the descriptive to the analytic, from the confessional to the critical, and from the poetic to the autoethnographic.

Workshop participants should bring something to write about—a research study in progress, a first draft report, or a completed study such as a thesis, dissertation, or published journal article. Participants should also bring a personal device (e.g., laptop, tablet) or hardcopy materials (e.g., notepad, pens) for in-class writing exercises. (Miscellaneous qualitative data samples will be provided for those not involved with current projects.)

Workshop content is derived from Writing Qualitatively: The Selected Works of Johnny Saldaña (2018, Routledge) and the co-authored Qualitative Research: Analyzing Life (2018, Sage).

Thursday-Friday (July 25-26)

Two-Day Courses

Scholar: Elizabeth Creamer

Dates: Thursday-Friday, July 25-26

A theoretical or conceptual framework can be enhanced by incorporating multiple sources of data in creative ways. This interactive course has the practical intent of providing the scaffolding to think theoretically about a research project. A mixed methods approach to grounded theory provides the tools to explain what outcomes are achieved, and how and why they come to be. Highly adaptable to academic, evaluation and intervention research, this approach sets the stage for further qualitative and quantitative research and informs the work of scholars in dynamic practice-oriented fields – such as education, nursing, health, business, human development, and information systems.

Shaped by more than two decades of teaching graduate level courses in mixed methods and grounded theory, this course highlights some of the ways that a mixed methods approach can be embedded in core steps in the development of a grounded theory, including through theoretical sampling, coding, analytical memoing, and visualizations. We will consider strategies that can be employed to delve into the implications of early results that point to dissonance between the findings from different sources of data. Through a series of inter-related activities, participants will experiment with sketching a preliminary theoretical framework.

Session Goals include:

  1. Provide an overview of the benefits researchers realize when they combine qualitative and quantitative data to develop and refine theory.
  2. Discuss important steps that researchers can take to develop a theoretical grounded theory model.
  3. Introduce procedures that are uniquely adaptable to integrating qualitative and quantitative data through theoretical memos and theoretical coding.

Creamer is the author of the 2018 SAGE textbook, An Introduction to Fully Integrated Mixed Methods Research. Material for the course comes from an in-progress textbook to be published by Routledge, Advancing Grounded Theory with Mixed Methods.

Scholar: Alison Hamilton

Dates: Thursday-Friday, July 25-26

New and experienced qualitative researchers alike often ask: “How do I align my qualitative project with core principles of the method?” To facilitate answering this question, participants will engage the life cycle of a qualitative study, from early brainstorming to final products, with attention to qualitative principles that shape each step and invite insights into the lives of participants and toward an analysis that privileges their complex voices. Those attending this course will become more confident in making decisions regarding qualitative design, data collection, and strategies for analysis and presentation.

We will engage the following questions:

  • Rationale for using qualitative methods: Why are qualitative methods necessary to address my research question(s)?
  • Study design: How will I design my qualitative research project to align study goals with effective data collection and preliminary strategies for analysis?
  • Data collection: How will my data collection methods address my research question(s), get closer to participants’ experiences, and drive data analysis?
  • Data analysis: What does it mean to “stay close to the data?” How do I do it? Why does it matter? How will my qualitative analysis approach help me to arrive at my goals?
  • Study products: What are my intended study products and how will I “get there” from data collection and analysis?

Participants will be provided with materials and bibliographies to support design and execution of qualitative projects.

Scholar: Sally Thorne

Dates: Thursday-Friday, July 25-26

This course focuses on developing skills and confidence in designing and conducting a qualitative study for the purpose of translating knowledge into practice in an applied field. We will consider applied qualitative research in theory, in process, and in context. That is, we will work through the various phases of conceptualizing and conducting a qualitative study whose purpose extends beyond theorizing and seeks action-in-the-world.

The course will cover basic elements of the logic of philosophical, theoretical, and disciplinary positioning, sampling, data collection options, and interpretation in an applied qualitative research context. We will reflect on the relationship between these components of design and the qualities of a project that engender work that is trustworthy, credible, and appropriately aligned with the investigator’s applied research aims. We will consider how we know what we know and how we make knowledge claims, particularly evidentiary claims, on the basis of qualitative investigation. We will delve into how applied qualitative researchers transform data pieces into patterns and thematic observations into meaningful findings, allowing participants an opportunity to wrestle with the intellectual mechanics that data analysis entails.

In addition to instruction, handouts, and a list of suggested references, the course will also include interactive components; participants will be invited to ask questions regarding their own inquiry to inform the collective thinking of the group.

Course content is adapted from Dr. Thorne’s book, Interpretive Description: Qualitative Research for Applied Practice (2nd ed., 2016, Routledge).

Scholar: Johnny Saldaña

Dates: Thursday-Friday, July 25-26

After qualitative data have been collected and initially analyzed, we are faced with the larger task of making meaning across numerous narratives and expanding ideas. This course provides strategies for data synthesis—that is, moving into advanced data analysis and integrative theory building.

The workshop will address:

  • Analytic heuristics (categories, themes, assertions, propositions, concepts)
  • Analytic write-ups (memos, vignettes)
  • Data analytic display-making (matrices and diagrams)
  • Theory development

We will make use of an analytic synthesis chart that outlines approaches for integrating meaningful ideas and making sense of data and across data. These methods are transferable to any discipline, including business, education, social sciences, and health care, etc.

Workshop content is derived from Saldaña’s methods texts including The Coding Manual for Qualitative Researchers (3rd ed., 2016, Sage), and the co-authored Qualitative Data Analysis: A Methods Sourcebook (4th ed., 2020, Sage), and Qualitative Research: Analyzing Life (2018, Sage).

Scholar: Elijah Anderson

Dates: Thursday-Friday, July 25-26

This course provides knowledge and insight into the ethnographic method. The ethnographic approach to social research involves substantive and methodological issues. Anderson’s classic work, A Place on the Corner (2nd ed., 2003, University of Chicago), and the more recent The Cosmopolitan Canopy (2012, W. W. Norton) are used as examples to describe, analyze and explain the process of selecting a social setting, “getting in,” writing field notes, “making sense,” and representing ethnographic research. The course will consist of lectures in a seminar-style/workshop format. Participants are encouraged to bring their own work for commentary and assistance, as time permits.

Scholar: Margarete Sandelowski

Dates: Thursday-Friday, July 25-26

Qualitative and mixed-methods research proposals are exercises in artful and mindful design, verbal precision, imaginative and informed rehearsal, elegant expression, and strategic disarmament.

The focus of this course is on concrete, this-is-how-you-might/should-say-it strategies for writing effective and competitive qualitative and mixed-methods research proposals. We will cover principles generic to writing such proposals, and specific ways to communicate the significance, conceptual framing, methodological details (overall design and strategies for sampling, data collection and analysis, optimizing validity and protections of human subjects), 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 sampling and generalizability in qualitative research, and integration in mixed methods research.

In addition to didactic instruction, handouts, and a suggested reference list, the course will also include interactive sessions during which participants will have the opportunity, as time permits, to ask questions about or present problems with their own proposals.

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).