Qual marches into fresh pastures
The British Psychological Society (BPS) has recently acknowledged the importance of qualitative research by setting up a new section within the Society.
Clearly this development is overdue; an inquiry to establish levels of interest attracted 1,500 BPS members keen to join and the inaugural meeting was so over-subscribed that it had to be shifted to a more spacious venue!
The first meeting of the Qualitative Section Committee will take place next month, so its aims and role are still fairly fluid. Nonetheless, it was clear from the inaugural meeting that there is a huge need for information and education. Students were crying out for university staff who really understood qualitative approaches. Staff who taught qual were sometimes unaware that commercial qualitative researchers even existed! There were complaints about the limited qualitative training available and many attendees declared that they were ill equipped to carry out qual projects.
Qual in an academic or clinical setting is often very different from commercial research. It has different aims and objectives and these need to be acknowledged. Nonetheless, the basic principles are the same. There may be opportunities for the AQR and the BPS to share experiences. It is too early to say.
This article was first published in InBrief magazine, November 2005
Copyright © Association for Qualitative Research, 2005