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What can qualitative research contribute to psychological knowledge?

Willig, C. ORCID: 0000-0001-9804-9141 (2019). What can qualitative research contribute to psychological knowledge?. Psychological Methods, 24(6), pp. 796-804. doi: 10.1037/met0000218


This paper reflects on what qualitative research in psychology can contribute to the accumulation of psychological knowledge. It provides an overview of qualitative research in psychology and discusses its potential value to quantitative researchers. It reviews the differences and similarities between qualitative and quantitative research and explains how qualitative research can be differentiated from other forms of knowing that are concerned with human experience. This paper explains what makes qualitative research ‘research’, and how to determine if something is qualitative research or another kind of meaning-making activity. The paper starts by defining and characterising qualitative psychology and by identifying qualitative psychology’s aims and objectives. The paper goes on to examine qualitative psychology’s relationship with the pursuit of knowledge and to position it within the wider field of psychological inquiry. The paper identifies ways in which qualitative research contributes to psychological knowledge (including thick description, critique, theory development) and concludes by affirming its place in a psychological research community that seeks to improve our understanding of ourselves and the world we live in.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2019, American Psychological Association. This paper is not the copy of record and may not exactly replicate the final, authoritative version of the article. Please do not copy or cite without authors' permission. The final article is available via its DOI: 10.1037/met0000218.
Publisher Keywords: qualitative research; knowledge claims; psychological inquiry; meaningmaking v research; types of psychological research
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
SWORD Depositor:
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