Fishnut wrote: ↑
Tue Nov 19, 2019 10:59 pm
Another new book, this time on the way a relative dearth of research into pregnancy birth and childcare leads to poor outcomes and an excess of unnecessary interventions. The author has a piece in The Conversation
which is worth a read. This part really jumped out at me,
One area where women are more equally funded is in the social sciences. But the discipline’s focus on qualitative methods, such interviews and observations, is sometimes taken less seriously. Many instead consider randomised controlled trials the best way to conduct research, as the element of behavioural choice and any associated demographic factors, such as age, gender or race, are removed.
However, conducting trials in birth and parenting research can have ethical implications. For example, you cannot randomise mothers to have a vaginal or cesarean birth, or to breast or formula feed. Also, qualitative methods are often better able to understand what is important to women, such as understanding their experiences of having labour induced rather than simply physical outcomes.
I used to be one of those who looked down on qualitative methods but the more I learn about them the more I realise that they can be rigorous and hugely effective for answering specific types of questions. It would be great if they could lose their stigma amongst the "hard sciences" community and be welcomed as an important tool in our arsenal.
Indeed. As a wholly quantitative researcher, in 2001 I was awarded a grant which required qualitative methods as well as quantitative ones. Of course, I hired an experienced qualitative researcher to do the actual field work and analysis, but for me it was a crash course on the valuable insights qualitative research can bring. Now, I normally aim to design studies using both where I can. The qualitative arm can tell you what
happens. The qualitative arm can give you insight into why
it happens or what it means to people.
I also think qualitative research is harder than quantitative research, in the sense of 'more difficult to do'.
It is interesting to me that the quantitative
field I work in has a large proportion, if not a majority, of female researchers, so gender divisions are not simple.