(E)pistemological Awareness, Instantiation of Methods, and Uninformed Methodological Ambiguity in Qualitative Research Projects

Dec. 10, 2009

Source: Educational Researcher, Vol. 38, Iss. 9; pg. 687-699. (Dec 2009).
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This article examines epistemological awareness and instantiation of methods, as well as uninformed ambiguity, in qualitative methodological decision making and research reporting.

The authors argue that efforts should be made to make the research process, epistemologies, values, methodological decision points, and argumentative logic open, accessible, and visible for audiences. To these ends, they discuss two ways of conceptualizing the role of epistemological awareness and instantiation of methods, including (a) a series of decision junctures and (b) a spatial conceptualization of epistemological decision making.

Through an analysis of researchers' decision junctures drawn from studies published in high-impact education journals in 2006, the authors illustrate current methodological awareness and instantiation of methods in the field of education research.

Concluding Thoughts

The authors argue that (e)pistemological awareness and instantiation of methods present one way of assisting qualitative researchers in constructing research studies. When (epistemologica! awareness as a way of shaping and influencing qualitative studies and designs is dismissed or deemed less important, the authors would expect researchers to create alternative ways to justify, situate, or explain their design choices and explicitly describe how all design components are related to each other.

The authors also acknowledge that sometimes it can be challenging and/or impossible to label, conceptualize, articulate, and intentionally know what we know. Acknowledging the limits of positions taken, the limits of our knowing, and ultimately the extent of our not knowing can be as important and valuable as the articulation of an (e)pistemological position.

Updated: May. 09, 2010