02 November 2022

Qualitative research is often regarded as the poor relation of quantitative research: less rigorous and less credible. In this talk, Professor David Silverman will suggest three reasons why this critique might be justified.

  1. Too much qualitative research is based on brief data extracts selected to give uncritical support to researchers’ claims.
  2. The overwhelming dependence of qualitative research on ‘manufactured’ data such as interviews and focus groups is questionable.
  3. Qualitative researchers’ claims to be able to offer ‘authentic’ descriptions of people’s ‘experience’ naively mirror the assumptions of psychology professionals and social media postings.

By contrast, David suggest that qualitative researchers do best when they employ rigorous data analysis to study behaviour using naturalistic data. Rather than compete with quantitative researchers, this means our work can be complementary to them, rigorously studying phenomena unavailable to quantitative methods.


Professor David Silverman is Professor Emeritus in the Sociology Department at Goldsmiths College, London, Visiting Professor in the Business Schools at King's College, University of London, Leeds University and UTS, Sydney as well as Adjunct Professor at QUT, Faculty of Education. He has authored 15 books and 45 journal articles on qualitative research, ethnography and conversation analysis. He has supervised over 30 successful PhD students, three of whom are now full Professors.

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