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Exploring 'Quality': research participants' perspectives on verbatim quotations

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JournalInternational Journal of Social Research Methodology
DatePublished - Apr 2006
Issue number2
Volume9
Number of pages13
Pages (from-to)97-110
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Support for inclusion of verbatim quotations from research participants in reporting qualitative applied social research is strengthened by evaluative tools which point to presentation of extracts of original data as an indication of clarity of links between data, interpretation and conclusion. This article contributes to discussion about 'quality' criteria and the role of verbatim quotations from the perspectives of those who speak the words. The authors describe an exploratory empirical study to test the impact on research participants of seeing their words in a report. This small study is part of a wider, Economic and Social Research Council-funded study of the theory, practice and impact of using verbatim quotations in reporting applied social research. Findings from the exploratory study raise important issues. Research participants preferred the version of the report which included spoken words, and saw ways in which spoken words contributed positively to interpretation and reporting. However, the 'quality indicators' perceived in relation to the verbatim quotations sometimes did not reflect the authors' intentions in selecting and using the words. Participants had strong views on ethical issues associated with use of their spoken words. Maintaining anonymity was important, as was the way they perceived themselves represented as a result of the authors' editing decisions and the form of the attributions at the end of the quotations. The study raises questions about how far and in what way the perspectives of research participants should be taken into account in judging the 'quality' of qualitative research.

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  • research methodologies

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