Giving a voice to the voiceless

This summer Dr Gavin Morgan, a Senior Educational Psychologist and Academic and Professional Tutor on UCL’s Doctorates in Educational Psychology, and Educational and Child Psychology, is hosting two British Psychological Society webinars. In July he will speak about qualitative research techniques and the importance of reflexivity, and in August he will discuss how to get research published. Ella Rhodes asked him about these events.

What will your webinars cover?

The qualitative research webinar will look at some of the problematic issues associated with three commonly used techniques in qualitative research. We will also have an opportunity for discussion around study design. Additionally, one of the big issues in qualitative research currently is reflexivity, and the webinar aims to develop and understanding of this important issue in qualitative research.

Anyone who has undertaken psychological research can often overwhelmed by the prospect and challenge of publishing their research. This webinar will help to demystify the process and aims to make the process seem achievable. We will talk about why we should get our research disseminated and published. We will discuss how to go through the process of ensuring a lengthy dissertation or thesis can be prepared for publication, and then talk about what happens during the submission process.  

How did you first become interested in these areas?

I have long been an advocate of qualitative research, from my days as an undergraduate and postgraduate student, and have always argued that this is a totally different way of viewing research, as opposed to more ‘traditional’ methods. Over recent years I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to teach qualitative research methods on the educational psychology doctorates at University College London, and have always been impressed by the enthusiastic reaction of my students when we discuss the importance of ensuring that we as psychologists are able tell people’s stories and to give a voice to the voiceless in our research.

During my time at UCL I have supervised doctoral research on the educational psychology courses, I have seen many brilliant students putting so much work into their theses and dissertations, only for them to findings never to ‘get out there’ and have the impact that their work really deserves. I want to help students ensure that their work has an audience and can really contribute to knowledge and to make a difference.

What still needs to change in these areas?

Qualitative research can often be marginalised in psychology. I am keen to demonstrate the power of qualitative research – it is not about parity with other research techniques, but moreover a different and incredibly valuable approach to undertaking research. 

The process of publishing research can often be seen as quite intimidating and difficult – and after a long journey of completing the actual research many students feel like they need a break from their work. I am hoping that the publication webinar will help participants see that the process is manageable and achievable 

What might surprise someone not familiar with these areas of work?

Well, as psychologists, if you want to know how someone is feeling, what they are thinking and why they are behaving as they are, then surely we should just speak with them. Such approaches should come naturally to us as psychologists… we should like people, and should value talking to them, and ensuring that their voice is being heard.

One of the key parts to success in getting research published is having an argument – something that someone can disagree or agree with. This is different to a thesis, which may well take a broader, more balanced approach. An article for publication needs an argument or position.

What do you hope people will take away from the webinars?

I would hope that the qualitative research webinar will inspire psychologists to undertake this type of research and to see the value of it. Also recognising that we are active participants in research and being part of qualitative research impacts upon us too, and changes how we think.

In the publication webinar I hope people realise that the process is achievable and doable, and not as intimidating or as off-putting as it may initially seem. It can be a time consuming and lengthy process, of course, but I would hope that this webinar will inspire more psychologists to get their research out there and begin to change and influence practice.  

– Dr Gavin Morgan’s webinar on qualitative research will be held on Monday 4 July at 11am. Find more information and book.

See also the Qualitative Methods in Psychology conference, 13-15 July, De Montfort University.

– His webinar on getting research published will be held on Monday 8 August at 11am. Find out more and book.

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