Enhancing rigour in qualitative health research: exploring subjectivity through Peshkin's I's


  • Caroline Bradbury-Jones

    1. Caroline Bradbury-Jones BSc MA DipHE DMS PGCE HV RN RM Lecturer in Nursing, University of Wales, Bangor, School of Healthcare Sciences, Wales, UK
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Caroline Bradbury-Jones: e-mail:hsse12@bangor.ac.uk


Title. Enhancing rigour in qualitative health research: exploring subjectivity through Peshkin's I's

Aim.  This paper is a discussion of the use of a systematic approach to explore researcher subjectivity and how this enhanced the rigour of a qualitative study.

Background.  The need for rigour in qualitative research is widely documented; the means by which it is enhanced are varied and numerous. Although most qualitative health researchers espouse the notion of being aware of their own subjectivity, the methods by which their self-awareness is developed is seldom made explicit.

Method.  This paper draws on the work of Peshkin from the discipline of education, who articulated the need for researchers to identify their subjectivity systematically throughout the course of their research by searching for their subjective I's. I share my experience of adopting this approach by using a reflexive journal as data. I recorded the journal as an integral part of a study in which I explored the meaning of empowerment for nursing students during the period 2005–2006.

Findings.  This systematic approach to exploring my subjectivity revealed four subjective I's that had potential for influence throughout the entire study. I argue that cognisance of my subjective I's improved the trustworthiness of the research.

Conclusions.  I offer this approach for consideration by healthcare researchers as a robust means of illuminating researcher subjectivity. This is not intended as a narcissistic process; it is one that is advocated for use as part of an audit trail as a means of enhancing the rigour of qualitative research.