September 27th, 2011
Much has been written and spoken recently, about the subject of insight and insights in qualitative research. In fact, the words Insights or Insight are added to practically every article, professional title, or methodology..as if insights automatically emerge from every project and every qualitative experience. Sometimes yes, we obtain major insights or insight….when the research methodology is developed correctly and uses a) the Rule of Two–matching segments and regions against each other to compare results and eliminate idiosyncrasies, b) the Rule of Consistency + Creativity in qualitative–using a mix of key questions that repeat as well as creative methodologies that stretch the observer and respondent imaginations, c) Strong seeking and intention–being sure that the research team has sufficiently communicated its desires to learn the study’s key objectives, and d) Time–to analyze, think, speculate, and watch patterns and synchronicities unfold during and after the study. f) Experienced and flexible practitioners of research are the going-in assumption, of course.
Without these 5 elements–let’s add in a bit of luck along with exciting team debriefs in which the consumer/study findings are relooked through numerous creative methodologies of reflection with everyone who observed the groups or ethnographies–a major insight may or may not result from the study.
During this series of posts, I will ask….
But, what are true insights? What is insight? Does insight occur in every study even when the 5 elements are present? Are there are new insights each time we conduct a good qualitative project? Does every ethnography offer up insights? Are insights always new? Do insights shift and get modified as the study goes along? Do the study practitioners ever truncate a cluster of findings (vague, clear, or assumed) into a short and sweet main insight in order to provide a substantial finding to communicate in easy-to-understand language? The answers are yes, no, and sometimes
When one’s life is research and the purpose of research is discovery of insight, these questions become critical, profound, and omnipresent.