Raising the Curtain: The Importance of Transparency in Qualitative Research


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Abstract

Methodological flexibility in qualitative research is not only unavoidable but also an inherent part of it. Each case of qualitative research is a singular process, requiring the researcher to craft his or her own method or make changes in accordance with the circumstances. As a result, the study’s process and decisions taken along the way often remain obscure to the reader. The purpose of the current paper is to discuss the importance of transparency in qualitative research, arguing that it is a critical component of what creates best practice. Furthermore, in order for qualitative inquiry to thrive within the field of psychology today, there is a need for both greater systematization of the research process and better dissemination of the information yielded. It could even be suggested that readers derive a greater benefit from seeing what has gone on “behind closed doors” than from learning the study’s results. After reviewing the literature, a model for improving transparency is suggested. The model suggests that researchers should consider three central reflexive questions regarding each stage of the research: what I did, how I did it, and why I did it. Each question is discussed, and a practical guide for improving transparency is suggested.

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