A declaration of ontological and epistemological assumptions that ground and direct the research process, including sample selection, methodological choice and transferability of results, has become more and more important in the world of qualitative research. In line with Guba and Lincoln, we believe that methodological questions are secondary to questions of paradigm i.e. the basic belief system and view of the world that guide researchers in a fundamental way. It was with this thought that the Qualitative Research Association Malaysia (QRAM) in November 2013, convened the 7th International Qualitative Research Conference in Shah Alam, Malaysia with thetheme : Doing It Right : From Theory to Publication.
One of the aims of the conference was to encourage researchers to reflect on and consider these ontological and epistemological assumptions which consciously or unconsciously have directed their ways of doing research besides serving as a platform for researchers to present
interesting, and original qualitative research papers. The Malaysian Journal of Qualitative Research (MJQR) was first published in 2007. This being the third issue, QRAM has the pleasure of presenting two such contributions from the conference.
Julie presents a thoughtful reflection on the issue that really hits the heart of scholarship and the role of theory in qualitative research using a simple three-question approach. The importance of critical, analytical and creative thinking within qualitative research are highlighted. How the performativity and governmentality theory are used to examine the
qualitative research that are shaped in the 21st century is well articulated in her paper entitled: Shaping PhD Researchers: Fearless Intellectuals or Managed Employees? Currently, mixed methods research is attracting increasing interest among researchers. In response to this trend, this issue include a study that is qualitative driven mixed method design as we believe this will provide another dimension to ‘a mixed methods way of thinking’ that is ‘open, seeking richer,better understanding of important facets of the phenomena’. This initiative is part of a continuing dialogue about how an integration of qualitative and
quantitative inquiry can be reported in response to questions arising inductively.
The article on ‘Making Sense of Mixed Method Design in Health Research: Reconciliation of the Findings in a Study of the Doctors’ Decision Making Process in Engaging Male Patients in Health Checks’ illustrate how the qualitative findings from a grounded theory approach complement the findings from the qualitative survey thus providinga more complete picture of the doctors’ decision making process when engaging male patients in their health checks. With this paper Seng Fah has given us that very epistemological key with which we can open into the deep secret of how to understand the individualistic nature of qualitative approach and normative nature ofquantitative approach.
As researchers we want to find out what we cannot see with our eyes and what is not observed directly e.g. people’s thoughts or feelings inspecific situation or what different phenomena mean to them. Thus in qualitative research, interviewing is the dominating way of collecting data. Unfortunately, much interviewing is done rather badly without coming close to VOL III, NO I, 2015 5 informants’ inner thoughts. This is a big concern as good analysis are only predicted by good data.
Based on her doctoral study on ‘Science Students’ Self-Generated Analogical Reasoning of the Concept of Translation in Protein Synthesis’ Maria shares her journey in how she planned and implemented qualitative interviews. The importance of establishing rapport and being prepared is highlighted. In addition, how she managed the interviewing session is detailed and useful advice is included in her paper. The need to practice many times was emphasised in order to perfect the art of interviewing.
Soon Boon’s article, ‘Conception of Thoughtful Teaching by Four Master Teachers in Malaysia’ explores how teachers teaching the Revised Secondary Science Curriculum (RSSC) implement the curriculum using case study design. The outcome of the study revealed that each of the participants has their own distinct characteristics and strategies of teaching. Major principles in RSSC were adhered to but not the prescriptive model provided by the Department of Education. The study demonstrated a need to realise and acknowledge that teachers’ personal
characteristic plays a part in deciding how to teach and in determining the effectiveness of their teaching.
The expansive field of qualitative research, offers an exciting possibility to generate meaningful knowledgefrom individuals’ experience and to illuminate the basic social process that explained events on a deeper level as illustrated by the above articles. There are still many interesting research questions waiting for exploration in - depth by interested and competent qualitative scholar.
One of the aims of the journal is to strengthen the awareness and impact of qualitative research and its conduct. It is not an easy job owing to the domination of paradigm that favours numbers. Nevertheless, who says that it must be easy? Researchers are extraordinary well educated people and know how to work hard. We must continue to gain insights into the ontology, epistemology and methodology of qualitative research works. Although the journal is still a new journal to many researchers within the country and around the world, we hope that together, the authors, editors, readers, reviewers and editorial board members will influence colleagues and researchers the world over to send manuscripts to the journal. We also hope that the contents of this third issue of the MJQRhas provided readings thatis worth considering and has contribute to methodological awareness.
We would like to thank all the reviewers for their excellent work and the authors for their contribution. We expect that MJQR will soon be indexed with SCOPUS, which will provide a higher platform for the authors and the readers, with a comprehensive overview of the most recent developments in qualitative research.
The Editorial Board