Conference Agenda

RN20_08: Collaborative Data Collection/Future of Qualitative Research
Thursday, 22/Aug/2019:
6:00pm - 7:30pm

Session Chair: Gerben Moerman, University of Amsterdam
Session Chair: Florian Elliker, University of St.Gallen
Location: UP.3.209
University of Manchester Building: University Place, Third Floor Oxford Road

Session Abstract

This is a mixed session: After two regular paper presentations, everybody interested in the “state and future of qualitative methods” is welcome to join the discussion at 7 pm. Engaging with a panel of experts and an open discussion with the audience, this session addresses the ambivalent situation that researchers using qualitative methods currently find themselves in. While there have been recent successes in institutionalizing qualitative methods in some European contexts, other colleagues still face a situation in which qualitative methods are not fully acknowledged. Yet, some scholars have started to use the notion of “post-qualitative” approaches, seemingly moving beyond what we know as qualitative research approaches.

How well are qualitative methods institutionalized and accepted in different European contexts? Given the current social and technological developments, what are the main challenges that qualitative approaches face? What are new directions in the field of qualitative research?

After a short input that summarizes the state of qualitative methods in a range of European countries, a panel of experts and RN20 board members will discuss what they currently regard as main challenges for qualitative methods and how they see the future of qualitative approaches. The major part of the session will consist of an open discussion with the audience.

The discussion begins at 7 pm. The panel participants are:

Paul Atkinson, Distinguished Research Professor in Sociology at Cardiff University, Wales, UK

Uwe Flick, Professor for Qualitative Social and Education Research at the Free University of Berlin, Germany

Ulrike Kissmann, Professor of Sociological Methodology of Qualitative Reconstructive Research at the University of Kassel, Germany

Silvia Cataldi, Lecturer in Sociology at the Sapienza University in Rome, Italy

The panel will be moderated by Florian Elliker, Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of St.Gallen, Switzerland


Collaborative Online Interpretation

Isabel Steinhardt

University of Kassel, Germany

One main requirement of hermeneutic methods is the joint interpretation of data in groups. The aim of the joint interpretation is to broaden the spectrum of possible readings and understandings of the material, based on the assumption that the interpretation is always related to on one's own experience and perspective. The joint interpretation of data allows for generating research results and explanations based on inputs that are more diverse with people who are involved in the analysis being from different social backgrounds, gender and age. For joint hermeneutic interpretation, it is necessary to find an interpretation group, ideally a heterogeneous interpretation group. Therefore, it was explored whether it is possible to interpret hermeneutically online. A wiki-based tool was developed and tested for this purpose. Narrative interview material from the open science project "Use of digital technologies for the study and habitus of students" was used for the test (see:

The presentation will tackle the following points:

1) Which conditions must be fulfilled in order to be able to interpret collaboratively online? This concerns issues of data protection, access possibilities and technical boundaries.

2) How does the process of interpreting online look like? The tool, the methodical and theoretical background and the possibility to use the tool will be presented.

3) What results can be achieved? Reflecting the participation online, the differences of the interpretations between the online group and a real interpretation (control) group will be presented.

Supporting Data Collection Techniques in Qualitative Longitudinal Research

Paula Pustulka, Marta Buler

SWPS University, Poland

Incorporating a range of qualitative methods into longitudinal research designs has been increasingly popular in recent years as researchers seek to investigate the dynamics of the ever-evolving social reality. A temporal perspective, which – from a practical standpoint -broadly aims at empirically capturing change between the timed waves of data collection, tends to rely primarily on interviewing techniques. While the conceptual contributions that pertain to strategies and challenges of interviewing within qualitative longitudinal research (QLR) are quite well-documented, less is known about the more technical side of this type of research, even though supporting techniques of data collection are often used. Therefore, this paper recounts the characteristics of the QLR and discusses which supporting techniques (ST) might contribute to a better understanding of the temporally-framed research problem. Specifically, we draw on three qualitative longitudinal projects that utilized concentric circles, trajectory drawings, activity cards, tables and genograms. In assessing their usability and efficiency, we focus on how well ST of data collection fit into the QLR designs, as well as discuss the value that different techniques may bring to the fieldwork and data analysis.