Of Quant Jocks and Qual Outsiders: Doctoral student narratives on the quest for training in qualitative research


By bhadmin February 2, 2021

Conceivably all doctoral students experience a degree of uncertainty and anxiety while pursuing their degree, yet the decision to use qualitative methods in a dissertation can be fraught with additional burdens. These may include identifying supplementary coursework, locating supportive faculty, and frequently justifying methodological choices. This article seeks to illuminate the experiences of qualitatively oriented social work doctoral students in the United States as they negotiate these challenges. Personal narratives of four current and recent doctoral students who have incorporated qualitative methods into their education are presented and analyzed for common themes. The themes that emerge from these narratives include early exposure to qualitative methods and a commitment to methodological pluralism, as well as experiences with encountering biases, additional costs, and the challenges of translating the methodologies of other disciplines. Recommendations are presented to encourage dialogue about qualitative research in social work doctoral education.

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