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Enhancing the quality of hermeneutic research: decision trail

Authors


Lisa Whitehead,
Western Isles Campus,
University of Stirling,
Western Isles Hospital,
Macaulay Road, Stornoway,
Isle of Lewis HS1 2AF,
UK.
E-mail: lisa.whitehead@stir.ac.uk

Abstract

Background.  Researchers have ethical and professional obligations to produce research of a high standard. The constituents of quality in research appear to differ between authors, leaving readers unsure about which pathway to follow. This can reflect inadequate consideration of the theoretical framework guiding the study. Many papers fail to consider the theoretical underpinnings of the methodology chosen and the link between these and the methods employed. These need to be accessible to readers in order to assess the trustworthiness of the research.

Aim.  This paper discusses the development of trustworthiness in hermeneutic phenomenological research.

Discussion.  Referring to a study on lived experience of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/myalgic encephalitis, I describe the decision trail and discuss the strengths and limitations of the choices made throughout the study.

Conclusion.  The methodology focused my approach more fully on the importance of recognizing the influences that I brought to the study and the impact of these in generating the data. It highlighted the fact that the process of setting out my horizon can never be complete, the importance of analysing the data at a macro and micro level, acknowledging the evolution of the data over time, and ensuring that analysis does not move beyond the data and out of the hermeneutic circle. In seeking to make the decision trail clear to others, researchers must distill the philosophical principles of the methodology and set these out in a way that is accessible and open to scrutiny.

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