No qualitative researcher left behind! Supporting our qualitative researchers through peer support
Learning from and supporting each other is invaluable here at the Manchester Centre for Health Psychology (MCHP), and something that we do well. However, in 2017 when I joined the department as a Research Assistant, I saw an opportunity to enhance our peer-to-peer support further. MCHP is home to a large body of qualitative health researchers at differing stages of their careers. Yet the centre did not have a seminar series dedicated to supporting these researchers. In true qualitative researcher fashion I ‘interviewed’ members of MCHP to gather interest about introducing a qualitative discussion group. A crude analysis of corridor conversations suggested that such a group would not only be well attended but would be an essential resource within the department.
Since then I have facilitated (with the help of others along the way) the running of the MCHP Qualitative Discussion Group, with sessions taking place on a 6-weekly basis. With over 80 academics on the mailing list, the group increases with popularity each year, with word spreading to other departments and centres across the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health.
The group’s popularity is likely attributable to its inclusive nature, where PhD students and early career researchers can learn from senior members of the group, and vice versa. The group provides an opportunity for all qualitative researchers to showcase their work, share ideas they have been grappling with, and also provides an environment for lively discussion about current issues in the qualitative world. Such topic areas have included issues surrounding: the concept of data saturation, the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in qualitative research, and ways of demonstrating researcher reflexivity.
But don’t just take my word for the group’s success. Rhiannon Hawkes, PhD Researcher and Research Associate provides her own thoughts on the usefulness of the group:
‘The Qualitative Discussion Group has brought together staff and PhD students from across many different disciplines, and offers a safe space to engage in discussion, seek feedback and learn from others’ experiences. In particular, this has given other PhD students the opportunity to meet and integrate with other students and staff across the faculty in addition to enhancing their skills in qualitative analysis’.
So for those of you thinking of joining MCHP, either as a staff member or student, you can be safe in the knowledge that qualitative researchers are well looked after here.
About the author
Vicky Woof is a PhD Researcher, who has been at MCHP since 2017. Her PhD research explores women’s breast cancer risk appraisals following the provision of clinically-derived risk estimate.