The article presents how a study that investigated the acquisition of second language academic literacy skills practised the qualitative methodology, interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA), from a realist perspective. We share the rationale behind the methodological decisions made in the study, which is followed by a detailed description of the methodological practice. In addition, the evaluation of the study against the realist criteria is reported, and some implications of using IPA based on realism for educational research are discussed. Overall, we suggest that IPA practice from a realist perspective helps go beyond postmodernism paradigms that seems to exert considerable influence on qualitative research in education.


Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA), Realist Paradigm, Against Postmodernism, Qualitative Research in Education, English for Academic Purposes (EAP)

Author Bio(s)

Hyeseung Jeong (PhD in applied linguistics) is a lecturer at the University of Malaya. Her research interests lie in second language acquisition (SLA), English for academic purposes (EAP), research approaches from the realist perspective, and critical examination on postmodernist research approaches to SLA. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: Hyeseung Jeong at, hjeong@um.edu.my.

Associate Professor Dr. Juliana Othman has been involved in language education at various levels for the past 15 years. Currently the Head of Department of Language & Literacy Education, at the Faculty of Education, University of Malaya. Her areas of specialization include second language teaching and learning, second language research, teacher development and pre-service teacher education. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: Juliana Othman at, Juliana@um.edu.my.


Sincere, heartfelt thanks go to the two academic mentors, Dr Ian Bruce and Associate Prof Dr Roger Bernard.

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