There are plenty of books on qualitative methodologies and methods, but Brock professor Susan Tilley’s book stands out from the rest.
Tilley, a professor in the Faculty of Education who recently published Doing Respectful Research: Power, Privilege, and Passion, acknowledges the overlay of ideas and theories amongst research-based books. However, her take on the issue looks more at “the complexities of the research process rather than offering a comprehensive study of a particular qualitative tradition,” she says.
The book explores research ethics, institutional requirements for conducting research with human participants and other ethical issues that arise in research. It also includes a chapter that examines the intricacies of transcription in relation to qualitative research.
“I tried very hard to include the work of scholars in the Canadian content both in the body of the text and in the annotated bibliographies that end each chapter,” says Tilley.
The professor’s interest in qualitative methodologies and how to conduct respectful research stemmed directly from her doctoral work in 1998, when she was conducting a critical ethnography with women attending a prison school while incarcerated in a provincial-federal prison.
“It was apparent in that context the kinds of issues that arise working with vulnerable populations, captive populations,” she says. “I became very interested in research ethics and questioning research processes from a critical feminist perspective.”
“Although a few decades have passed since I conducted my doctoral research, that experience was central in the writing of this book and the life I have shaped as an academic since then,” she says.
Based on her experiences of teaching research courses and advising student researchers, she saw a need for a text that could support researchers with interests in doing critical qualitative research. Tilley set out to write her own book exploring the implications of power, privilege and passion for the research act.
The book invites the reader into the conversation surrounding what needs to be thought about when approaching critical qualitative research including choosing the research topic, which Tilley argues is of paramount importance.
“I tell my students to make sure their topic is important to them and they feel it can make a contribution. They may be at this for a long time and need to maintain a level of dedication and passion to be able to do strong work and work that is actually going to make a difference,” she says.
For student researchers and faculty, Tilley includes thoughtful discussion of the complexities of the student-advisor relationship and how it can take shape over the life of the student’s research project.