A masterclass on access, sampling, and retention in qualitative longitudinal research

  • Date: Wednesday 13 November 2013
  • Time: 10.00 - 16:00
  • Location: The Woodhouse Room, University House, University of Leeds
  • Categories: ,

Workshop Aim

Qualitative longitudinal (QL) research presents particular challenges in negotiating access, choosing cases, and maintaining our relationships with participants through research. In addition, because QL research engages with time methodologically and substantively, we are obliged to think about and respond to the dynamic relationships between researchers and researched, and the ways in which the subjects in our research design and determine their responses to the changing natural, social, and practical circumstances in which they live.

This workshop will provide practical support to qualitative researchers who want to consider how time affects the recruitment and engagement with a sample. It will consider how change (and staying the same) through time provide important opportunities for description, interpretation and explanation from our research. The workshop will focus its attention on ‘subjects in process’ together with ‘relations in process’.

Who is the workshop for?

While many of the examples in the workshops draw on the contributors’ experiences of conducting QL research, the lessons drawn from our engagement with temporal processes in research will be of interest to experienced qualitative researchers more generally.


10.00 — 10.30 – Registration

10.30 — 10.45 – Introduction to the day

10.45 — 12.00 – Building relations in QL research (Rob / Rebecca)

12.00 — 12.30 – Ethics and QL: a special case (Kahryn Hughes)

12.30 — 13.30 – Lunch

13.30 — 14.30 – Creative ways of maintaining research relationships in QLR (Susie Weller)

14.30 — 14.45 – Coffee discussion

14.45 — 15.30 – Considering the implications of thinking about the sample in QL research as subjects in process (Nick Emmel)

3.30 — 4.00 – Plenary discussion

Workshop sessions

Rob Macmillan and Rebecca Taylor are from the Third Sector Research Centre at the University of Birmingham.

Rob and Rebecca will present on “Researchers and research participants: building relationships in QL research”. Drawing on their research, including the Real Times programme of longitudinal qualitative research with third sector organisations, they will investigate relational and organisational dimension of relationship building, in particular. Their presentation will be followed by a workshop investigating how QL researchers build the commitment to engage in long term research, including how researchers navigate changes in relationships (and, if appropriate, organisational dynamics).

Kahryn Hughes was a co-investigator in the ESRC Qualitative Longitudinal Initiative, Timescapes and is currently researching on Real Times.

Kahryn will consider some of the ethical challenges of building and maintaining relationships with participants in QL research. She will address how qualitative longitudinal research seeks to understand and engage with uncertainty and change over time.  Because of this, ethical practices in QL research cannot be fully determined beforehand, often because they are context specific, and require an ongoing and sensitive appraisal of local circumstances.  This presentation will consider how QL research encourages a shift from an accountability model to a process sensitive support model of pursuing ethical practices, and how QL ethical reasoning and practices are inevitably temporally situated.

Susie Weller, is a Senior Research Fellow in the Weeks Centre for Social and Policy Research at London South Bank University. She is currently the Principal Investigator on an ESRC National Centre for Research Methods ‘Methodological Innovation’.

Susie will consider Creative ways of maintaining research relationships in QLR. Her workshop focuses on creative ways of maintaining research relationships in qualitative longitudinal work. The hands-on session will encourage participants to engage with material from an on-going qualitative longitudinal project – ‘Your Space’ – that has explored change and continuity in the identities and relationships of c. 50 young people from across Britain over the past decade. Taking a case-study based approach, the workshop practical will involve participants in exploring, developing and debating: practical steps to aiding sample retention; the possibilities offered by new technologies; and the evolving nature of emotional, methodological and ethical challenges involved in (attempting to) sustain relationships over time.

Nick Emmel was a co-investigator in the ESRC Qualitative Longitudinal Initiative, Timescapes. He has recently published Sampling and choosing cases in qualitative research: a realist approach with SAGE.

Nick’s session will consider the implications of thinking about the sample in QL research as subjects in process, in which he will contend that qualitative longitudinal (QL) research privileges biographical accounts and trajectories and the dynamic and historically contingent life events and circumstances that cut across these narratives. Similarly, strategies of accessing, building, and maintaining relations with participants in research emphasise features of context and contingency. It is because QL research engages with time methodologically and substantively that it draws attention to an understanding of the sample as ‘subjects in process’. In this presentation Nick will consider the implications of temporality to understanding who or what we sample in qualitative (longitudinal) research and how this temporal framing of cases contributes to interpretation and explanation.