Finchilescu, Gillian, & Saloshni Muthal (2019). Q methodology: Patterns of subjectivity in academic misconduct. In Sumaya Laher, Angelo Fynn, & Sherianne Kramer (Eds.), Transforming research methods in the social sciences: Case studies from South Africa (Chap. 9, pp. 130-148). Johannesburg, South Africa: Wits University Press. (Open Access, available on JStor) (doi: 10.18772/22019032750.14) (Link: https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.18772/22019032750.14) (Link: https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.18772/22019032750.14?seq=1#metadata_info_tab_contents)

From the Introduction: Q methodology (Q) is a hybrid of qualitative and quantitative methodological procedures, hence its description as a ‘qualiquantological’ research procedure (Stenner & Stainton Rogers, 2004). The methodology has been used in a wide range of disciplines, yet it has received relatively little attention within psychology, the discipline from which it originated. Additionally, it has received little coverage in traditional texts on quantitative or qualitative methods (Watts & Stenner, 2005). However, as this chapter will show, Q has distinctive features that make it particularly suited to identifying the dominant and peripheral narratives or perspectives on any given issue. It is particularly useful with sensitive and marginal populations whose voices may not be heard through solely qualitative approaches. Qualitative approaches often seek to identify dominant discourses, while purely quantitative approaches, such as surveys, often conceal marginalised viewpoints (Capdevila & Lazard, 2008). Furthermore, the procedures of Q allow these voices to be heard with minimal bias arising from instrumentation effects or researcher­imposed meanings, allowing the true voices of the population of interest to emerge (Stephenson, 2014). The aim of this chapter is to introduce the method and hopefully stimulate its use among psychological researchers. The chapter begins with an introduction to the logic of Q methodology, with a brief overview of psychological studies that have used the methodology. This is followed by a demonstration of how to do a basic Q study using a recent research project on perceptions of academic misconduct (Finchilescu & Cooper, 2018).

Gillian Finchilescu <gillian.finchilescu@wits.ac.za> is in the Department of Psychology, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa.

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