Written By: Professor Alex Clark, RN PhD, Associate Dean, Research, Faculty of Nursing
Why do people behave as they do? This question is posed by researchers from many disciplines around many different key populations and different key health behaviours. Why, for example, do health professionals so frequently not practice according to best research evidence? Why are middle-aged people sedentary when they know the harm of this? Why do high school students not seek student services when their academic performance is poor?
Answers to such questions can be very useful not only for research but also for society. Interventions can be designed, practice can change and policy can be developed. Answers can help professionals practice more effectively and reduce unnecessary suffering and avoidable negative outcomes.
Qualitative research methods are often the best methods for addressing these kinds of questions. This type of research uses non-numerical data (usually gathered through interviews, focus groups or video) to increase understanding of humans, how they see things and how they behave. Over the last 50 years, qualitative methods have become increasingly established across numerous disciplines (including medicine, social work, nursing and psychology) and are one of the main types of methods used in funded research applications either alone or with quantitative research in mixed methods studies.
Located at the University of Alberta, the International Institute for Qualitative Methodology (IIQM) is one of the world’s largest providers of training, education, and support around qualitative methods. IIQM provides four international conferences each year, including Qualitative Health Research, the world’s largest dedicated conference of its type, which attracts up to 600 delegates from 30 countries.
In June 2014, IIQM will host two large international events in Edmonton, Alberta. Focusing on skills development, Thinking Qualitatively involves over 30 workshops focused on qualitative skills training. Irrespective of discipline, career stage and methodological interests, the workshops provide delegates with key skills needed to gain and master skills in all key areas of qualitative research.
Advances in Qualitative Methodology also in Edmonton will provide delegates from all disciplines using qualitative methods with an international forum for discussing latest innovations around ‘Applied Qualitative Research. With the keynote speaker, Professor Rose Barbour (UK, Open University), researchers from all disciplines can come to network and share their challenges, experiences and insights in how they qualitative research to address key problems in their respective disciplines and fields
While the challenges societies across the world are facing may change, the need for researchers to adapt, advance, and address these needs has never been greater. Through IIQM and its events, researchers at the University of Alberta, Canada and internationally can benefit from some of the the best of training, support and events available in the world. Whatever method, discipline or level of experience – IIQM can help your qualitative research change the world.