LUBS Speaker Series (Online) with Professor David Silverman

Date(s) - 08/07/2024 10:00 am - 11:30 am


Qualitative Research for Social Impact


Qualitative research is often regarded as the poor relation of quantitative research: less rigorous and less credible. For instance, in managing the Covid 19 epidemic, governments have largely turned to research which can be expressed in numbers.

To some extent this is understandable. We live in a world where numbers talk. On the other hand, qualitative researchers have not helped themselves by research frequently based on a few interviews with conclusions derived from telling examples rather than detailed analysis of whole datasets.

By contrast, I suggest that qualitative researchers are more likely to convince policymakers and practitioners when they employ rigorous data analysis to study behavior using naturalistic data. Rather than compete with quantitative researchers, this means our work can be complementary to them, studying phenomena unavailable to quantitative methods. I use some examples from my own research on healthcare settings to illustrate my argument.

I conclude by drawing out some implications for PhD students and early career researchers. I show how to avoid two dangerous orthodoxies about research and recommend, where possible, delaying consideration of practical relevance until the conclusion of a research project rather than beginning with a set of pre-defined policy aims.

Prof David Silverman is Visiting Emeritus Professor at Leeds University Business School, Professor Emeritus in the Sociology Department at Goldsmiths College, London Visiting Professor in the King’s College Business School, University of London and the Business School, University of Technology, Sydney as well as Adjunct Professor at QUT, Faculty of Education. He has authored 15 books and over 60 journal articles on qualitative research, ethnography and conversation analysis.┬áThirty of his students have successfully completed their PhD and three are now full Professors.