Who Do We Think We Are? Disrupting Notions of Quality in Qualitative Research

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Abstract

The purpose of this article is to illuminate our troubles with, and troubling of, the trustworthiness dimension of balancing subjectivity and reflexivity, in qualitative research. This article evolved from debriefing sessions between three novice researchers working on a qualitative research study aimed at building understandings of the relational dynamics between adults with developmental disability diagnoses (ADevD) and their caregiving families. Following data collection, coauthors discussed interview experiences they had personally found challenging. These experiences constitute a point of departure for our examination of our researcher positions. We present a delineation of three research tensions, in the form of short “reflexive vignettes,” each rooted in concern with possibly contradicting our goals of facilitating and expanding participant autonomy. We follow with recommendations about how, as researchers, our endeavor to understand participants with less conventional communication can be used to reflect and inform navigating difficulties universal to qualitative research.

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