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International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-being
For an Article Collection on
Qualitative Methods in a Digital Age
29 April 2024
Qualitative Methods in a Digital Age
Now more than ever, qualitative researchers in health and well-being are engaging with/in digital tools and spaces as they design and carry out their research. While for many scholars, the use of technologies to support qualitative research processes became increasingly relevant during the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a long history of qualitative researchers working at the intersection of method and technology. From the advent of audio recorders to the more recent use of artificial intelligence to support data analysis, the practice of qualitative research has long intersected with emergent technologies. Moreover, alongside the advent of the Internet and the more recent explosion of social media, qualitative researchers now have access to new research contexts and forms of data. Indeed, people are no longer just using technologies to live, but living through them – requiring qualitative researchers to attend to the place of technologies not only in their research practice but also in people’s sense-making practices.
Despite the extensive use of technology in everyday life and in research practice, there remains a need for scholarly discussions around the methodological decisions, practices, and consequences of using technology in qualitative research. Indeed, all digital tools and spaces are designed with specific purposes in mind and possess distinct affordances. When these tools and spaces are used in and/or for research, it becomes critical to make explicit how researchers theorize, implement, and reflect on the uses of technology in research practice.
Accordingly, the aim of this article collection is to bring together cutting-edge discussions on the ways in which the digital age is shaping qualitative research practice in health disciplines. Collectively, these articles will contribute to our knowledge via providing theoretical, methodological, and practical examples of how technologies are used in qualitative research and their consequences. More specifically, there is interest in methodological/conceptual articles that explicate and illustrate how digital qualitative methods, various forms of digitized data, and new technologies serve to both challenge and expand how qualitative research is conducted in health disciplines. Articles around the following topics as linked to health disciplines would be especially welcomed:
- Illustrative empirical examples that highlight how technologies might shape a qualitative research design and the consequences of it;
- Ethical, theoretical, and/or philosophical discussions around the use of technology in qualitative research.
- The ways in which ‘big qualitative data’ is both being produced and analysed in the contemporary era;
- The role of technological reflexivity in designing qualitative research in the digital age; and
- The place of AI in qualitative research (e.g., how AI might shape transcription and analysis processes).
Jessica Nina Lester, Ph.D., is a professor of Qualitative Methodology in the School of Education at Indiana University, Bloomington. Having been trained in cultural studies and qualitative research methodology, she takes an interdisciplinary approach to her scholarship, including both the methodological and substantive foci of her research program. In her methodological work, Lester focuses on the study of language-based methods, digital tools in qualitative research, and disability in qualitative inquiry. Her substantive research has focused on examining interactional practices in clinical and educational contexts that involve children and youth. She is the co-author of 7 books and co-editor of 8 volumes. In addition, she has published over 90 peer-reviewed journal articles and co-edited 14 special journal issues. Lester has received numerous awards for her scholarship, among them the 2018 APA Distinguished Early Career Contributions in Qualitative Inquiry Award and the 2022 American Educational Studies Association Critics’ Choice Book Award. At Indiana University, Lester teaches qualitative methods courses and was recently recognized by the 2022 Gorman Distinguished Teaching Award.
Pei-Jung Li is a Ph.D. candidate in the Qualitative & Quantitative Methodology (Qualitative Track) program at Indiana University Bloomington. Trained with an interdisciplinary background in education, learning sciences, and qualitative research methodology, she holds human-, ethic-, and equity-centered beliefs in her research practices. In her substantive and methodological works, she unpacks and extends qualitative research practices when working with culturally and linguistically diverse populations, particularly international students. Her work covers issues related to cross-language/cross-cultural research practices, research ethics, and the use of technologies in qualitative research. In addition to her growing body of journal articles and conference presentations, her dissertation study received the 2022 Taiwanese Overseas Pioneer Grants from the National Science and Technology Council in Taiwan. As a qualitative method consultant, she has assisted over 40 students and scholars and delivered over 15 workshops in the past two years. She has also served as a reviewer for the Jacobs Educator Award, American Educational Research Association Annual Meetings, and the International Society of the Learning Sciences Annual Meeting.
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