Thursday, February 24, 2011

Istanbul: Qualitative Computing-Diverse Worlds and Research Practices Conference

The first day of the conference is over...and what a day.  The conference is being held at Boganizi University.  It's on top a steep hill.  We are in the Albert Long Hall, an older building with quaint lounges and meeting places. 

The conference opened with remarks from the Rector (Chancellor in the US) of Boganizi University.  I was pleased that qualitative research was getting this kind of attention, and he seemed genuinely proud to be having an event like this on his campus. 

Keynote: Nigel Fielding, Surrey University

We were off and running with Nigel Fielding's keynote, which, borrowing a term from him, addressed the
"Glocalization" of method--how we are going global and staying local at the same time.  Fielding addressed three topics along these lines:  1)  the growth of Citizen research; 2) Emerging social science research communities, and; 3) Citizen research and CAQDAS technologies.  Ideas that struck me from all of this included:

-how the Web has intensified and accelerated the growth of citizen researchers
-how many technologies are coming on line that citizen researchers can use quickly and easily (exp: survey tools)
-how the number/quantity of social science researchers are expanding around the world
-how many communities are growing their own researchers (the researched can now research themselves)
-how assumptions from anthropology and sociology that are lodged in an earlier time are holding us back from understanding and embracing this emerging era
-the importance of paying attention to the variety of 'mash-ups' that could be of value to Qualitative Researchers
-there is a huge need for training in CAQDAS--we haven't begun to address that challenge

Questions/issues that the discussion raised included:
-In Egypt the mobile phone was a tool for a revolution...does CAQDAS need to come down to this level of simplicity?  What would a new CAQDAS look like?
-can we afford to separate ourselvees from the needs of communities and people who are making local the name of professionalism and standards? 
-what are the implications for training social scientists? 

2.  The first panel addressed:  Learning and Teaching QDAS
Rivers and Silver's paper was first (given by Rivers)  "Identifying Aspects of Learning Experience and Usability in CAQDAS: A Longitudinal  Case-study Project" 

Christine was reporting on a 12 months study of 23 researchers and doctoral students who participated in the CAQDAS 2 day training program and then were subsequently surveyed (closed and open responses).  They analyzed the material in QDAS Miner. 

I liked the 'tight' way that they analyzed the material--slicing it and then dicing it carefully...I mean, these are really expert methodologists, and their decisions showed that. 

What strikes me after all is said and done is that...your first introduction to a CAQDAS package cannot be your last.  Where they seemed to see break down was with people who didn't use CAQDAS on a regular basis for project management...but seemed to compartmentalize its use (I put my field notes in ...and that was all).  The breakdown came after the "code and retrieve" place--most people get that...but after that projects often wither and die on the vine. 

To follow up on that Thomas Ebert and Claus Stefer (who work with Udo Kuckartz of MaxQDA) --all at Phillipps-Marburg, Germany--did a comparison of the 3 methods they use to deliver training of MaxQDA:  1) traditional workshop (face-to-face; short term get together); 2) Blended Learning (semester long; go through a qualitative research project and learning the software); and, 3) Webinars (up to 2 hours, synchronous web chat.  I enjoyed the presentation--it's really good to hear how others are trying to bring others along with training. 

The third speaker was Ceasar Cisneros--a fill in for the speaker who didn't show.  He wrapped together ideas he has been sharing about the ethnocentricism of the ways we look at and describe the history of qualitative research.  Different regions have different milestones in that history, but the official version is owned by North American researchers.  What I found v ery interesting was the way he showed how with something that seems as basic to qualitative research as the interview...this tool is actually represented differently in different eras.  Using the Lincoln and Denzin 7/8 moments of qualitative research he illustrated it this way:

Period 1/2:  Structured, Semi-structured, and open ended interviews were the dominant way of approach.
Period 3/4:  Feminist Criticism attached this mode of interview
Period 4/6:  What emerges is the autoethnographic and post-experimental interview
Period 7:  We find our way to the performative turn and what that does to the interview. 

In the discussion of these talks, we agreed that there is great need for methodological training, not just CAQDAS...and there is need for greater attention to institutional supports, not only individual support.  We talked about the issue of where training in CAQDAS is not available and why. 

After lunch our session was on the issue of Mixed Methods...and this turned out to be fascinating (what's happening to I joining the other side?!)

Udo Kuckartz spoke on "Joint Displays:  Advanced Ways to Use QDA Software for Mixed Methods Approaches"  He spent his sabbatical last year working in the US with John Creswell and thinking about the use of mixed methods.  It sounds like it was a productive year.  He asked us some very compelling questions:  When does the mixing occur?  Is it 2 separate studies?  On what level does the mixing occur?  How can QDAS assist with mixed perspectives?  He showed us three examples of how the mixed methods could be made integral.  I would do it an injustice to try and describe without the examples--but it was clear and compelling. 

Jane Fielding then spoke on "Mixed Methods and Computational Tools: Linking Fear and Place Using Open-ended Questions in a Community Safety Survey".  She took us from a survey of 915 respondants--closed and open-ended various GIS tools.  It was a stunningly good example of what it means to bring all these tools together to answer a question. 

Cesar Cisneros returned to give his 'real' talk:  "Is a New Mixed method Practice Emerging as a Result of the 'spatial turn' in Qualitative Research?"  His talk opened with the sharing of several diffeent kinds of maps; geographic, disciplinary, Aztec--social scientists are map makers he declared.  Then he shared a framework for thinking about spatial work:  1) naive geography; 2) qualitative mapping; and 3) spatially integrated social science.  This was exciting stuff. Cesar has been looking at the world of cultural geographers--Mei-Po Kwan, Cope, and others.  He talked about the capacity to connect a full range of digital data including spatial data.  "It is important to realize geography is a good place to think about the new possibilities of qualitative research," he stated. 

We concluded with a workshop from Mauri Laukkanen from the University of Eastern Finland on "Causal Mapping with CMAP3"  This software tool, which he developed, is designed specifically to be used for informal and structured causal mapping.. I am very glad I learned about it and the methods that he, as a business researcher, uses. 

(Mauri and I had an extensive email conversation about the tool after the conference.  This helped me to better understand his perspective as the developer.  He is going to be adding a response with links to his paper.  You can contact him at for more information on the product.) 


An impressive first day!


Silvana di Gregorio said...

Great post Judy. Wish I could have been there. Seems as though there is a lot of forward thinking about moving beyond traditional CAQDAS. We have talked about the citizen researcher and this is an area I would like to move into. Interesting that people have identified I need for CAQDAS training whereas I have seen the demand fall off for me (in both UK and USA). But that could be due to other factors. I think universities are doing their own 'training' but how much of that is integrated with qual methodology? And how much of it is it just a brief introduction to which just sustains the limited use of the software?

Looking forward to your next post.


Deb said...

I am intrigued by this idea of "glocalization". The opportunities to document experiences of thinking globally but acting locally presents an interesting way for qualitative researchers to collaborate.

Your blogging on your experience at the conference is really terrific!

Miguel Angel said...

I'm the speaker that didn't show! I was pretty sad I couldn't go but since your post is so well written, it makes me feel as if I had been there. Thanks!

Umit Atabek said...

The name of the hosting university is "Boğaziçi" not "Boganizi". Best regards.