Qualitative nursing research: A study of researchers’ situatedness

Background: In qualitative research, the relation between the researcher and the informants requires reflection. This is particularly important where researchers and fields are closely linked, e.g. through professional education or work experience. Aim: To examine how qualitative nursing researchers reflect upon their membership in the groups or areas being studied. Methods: By employing content analysis, the article investigates how articles in the Nordic Journal for Nursing Research reflect upon researcher positioning. The sample includes 57 articles using qualitative research methods.

Result: We find a lack of reflections regarding the researchers' position, but to the extent it is done, we often find variations of an ideal wherein educated nurses are seen as being in a privileged position to conduct qualitative research within the health care sector. We analyse this ideal in light of the emergence of nursing science as discipline, and in light of the “insider / outsider” debate in the social sciences. Conclusion: While this ideal contains valid aspects related to experience-based insights and practice related knowledge, it also contains a normative dimension where justifications of the researchers’ own positions are important.

Keywords: epistemology, qualitative research, nursing research, insider/outsider