Although there has been much discussion about distinctions between quantitative and qualitative research, our purpose here is not to revive those conversations, but instead to attempt to explore and articulate our identities as researchers who practice in the qualitative tradition. Using autoethnography as our methodology, we as six researchers from various social science disciplines and at various career stages engaged in focused introspection by responding individually to two questions: who am I as a qualitative researcher; and how did I come to that understanding? This reflection led to discussions of those elements and experiences that have shaped the way we see ourselves in the context of our research. The question of “identity” evolved into a discussion about “what we do.” During our data analysis, six themes emerged, representing our group’s responses: (a) building epistemology, (b) making/doing good research, (c) as an art or craft, (d) why does qualitative research need legitimating? (e) qualitative research as a social bridge, and (f) stewards of people’s lived experience. We conclude by reflecting on the value of building a community of practice among qualitative researchers.


Qualitative Research, Researcher Self-Identity, Auto-Ethnography, Epistemology

Author Bio(s)

Dr. K. Roger is an Associate Professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences (Max Rady College of Medicine, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences) at the University of Manitoba, and Director of the Undergraduate Program Committee. She holds a Master’s Degree in Applied Psychology from the Ontario Institute of Studies in Education and a PhD. in Sociology and Equity Studies in Education from the University of Toronto. She has previously been certified as a Clinical Psychotherapist and Supervisor in Ontario and was in private practice for several years in downtown Toronto. Current research questions focus on ageing and health. Dr. Roger has been a Principal Investigator on multi-site nationally funded research (e.g., PHAC, SSHRC, Movember, federal government), as well as conducting provincial and regionally funded research. She has worked on international collaborations, local not-for-profit community initiatives, and continues to co-author and engage graduate students in her research. She is the founder and Director of the Qualitative Research Group (QRG), a community of practice that consists of over 300 members across Canada and internationally. Please direct correspondence to kerstin.roger@umanitoba.ca.

Tracey A. Bone, MSW, PhD, RSW, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Social Work, University of Manitoba. A Registered Social Worker, she holds both a Master of Social Work degree and a Doctor of Philosophy - Social Work from the University of Manitoba. A qualitative researcher, her primary areas of research include mental health and forensic mental health, the impact of audism in the Deaf community, gambling in disability communities, and a recent interest in the area of eating disorders. Her work as Lead Researcher in a forensic mental health study in Africa contributed to her recent appointment as Board Member and Vice–President Constituency Development for the World Federation for Mental Health. Through this appointment, she will continue to expand her mental health research interests internationally.

Dr. Tuula Heinonen, DPhil, is a recently retired Professor and senior scholar at the University of Manitoba. Her research interests include health and social work, newcomer settlement in Canada, qualitative and arts-based research and active aging in older women. She has also completed an advanced diploma in art therapy at the Vancouver Art Therapy Institute and is interested in working with older persons, newcomers to Canada and international students. With several other co-authors, she has recently completed a book on creative methods in social work.

Karen D. Schwartz, PhD, is the Faculty Relations Officer at the University of Manitoba. She is a qualitative researcher whose interests focus on issues facing people with intellectual disabilities. In particular, she is trying to better understand the role that historical and contemporary ideas of personhood and humanness play in advancing or precluding a meaningful and valued life for these individuals. Most recently, she has been examining the meaning of human rights and social justice for adults with intellectual disabilities.

Joyce Slater, RD, MSc, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Food and Human Nutritional Sciences, Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences, University of Manitoba. Joyce teaches nutrition education and public health nutrition, and her research interests include food literacy, food security, traditional foods and food identities. Using mixed method and qualitative approaches, Joyce conducts applied research with education and community-based organization. Joyce is also a Registered Dietitian.

Sulaye Thakrar is a PhD Candidate in Clinical Psychology at the University of Manitoba. He has worked on qualitative projects with Burn Survivors using a Narrative methodology throughout his Master's and Doctoral research. His research is supported by the Manitoba Health Research Council and the University of Manitoba. Currently he is working as a Psychologist (Candidate Register) in Nova Scotia as he progresses towards defending his PhD dissertation.

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