Anglia Ruskin University

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Exiting the elephant: hearing the participant voice in qualitative data collection

journal contribution
posted on 2023-09-01, 15:01 authored by Kevin James Rumary, Sally Goldspink, Philip Howlett
Data collection in qualitative research is intended to capture the participant experience in relation to defined phenomena. Whilst attention is given to the different ways of gathering qualitative data, the presence of the researcher is a common feature. However, the researcher does not hold an inert position in the data collection process and may influence the type and level of data obtained. This paper highlights and explores the issue of researcher presence by suggesting a strategy to distance the researcher from the data collection frame via self-governing focus groups. Developed in a study examining vocational student experience in further education, a data collection method is proposed which aims to reduce the influencing factor of the researcher. A self-administered structured question schedule replaces the interviewer to promote authentic access to the participant voice in an environment which is familiar, comfortable and safe. Consideration is given to the construction of the question schedule and recording procedure which aims to stimulate inclusive and unhindered contributions, as well as maintaining the research focus. The analysis of contributions indicates that by standing back, the researcher can see authentic customary social processes which reveal a meaning of the phenomena for the participants.



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International Journal of Research & Method in Education




Informa UK Limited

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  • Published version


  • eng

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Faculty of Health, Education, Medicine & Social Care