Q Bibliography: Ramlo on centroid factor analysis and theoretical rotation

Ramlo, Sue (2016, Winter). Centroid and theoretical rotation: Justification for their use in Q methodology research. Mid-Western Educational Researcher, 28(1), 72-91.


This manuscript’s purpose is to introduce Q as a methodology before providing clarification about the preferred factor analytical choices of centroid and theoretical (hand) rotation. Stephenson, the creator of Q, designated that only these choices allowed for scientific exploration of subjectivity while not violating assumptions associated with other choices like principal components (PCA) and Varimax. Although Q software offers Stephenson’s preferred choices as factor analytic options, today most Q methodologists use the more “modern” factor analytical choices of PCA and Varimax. Similarly, reviewers and critics of Q research often question the use of centroid with theoretical rotation, further discouraging their use. Researchers who took statistics coursework since the advent of statistical computer software are unfamiliar with centroid and theoretical rotation, their history, their processes, and why they offer a means of best scientifically exploring pragmatic, meaningful factor analytical solutions within Q methodology studies. Statistical versus theoretical considerations are discussed.

Sue Ramlo <sramlo> is in the Departments of Engineering & Science Technology and Curricular & Instructional Studies, University of Akron, OH, USA.

Steven Brown wins first Stephenson Award for Contributions to ISSSS

Steve Brown earned his Ph.D. in political science at the University of Missouri in 1968, where he also studied journalism and, as a result, met William Stephenson who was then a member of the J-school faculty. Steve went on to take several courses from Professor Stephenson; and, for a time, they were backyard neighbors. Steve did his dissertation in political science using Q and thereafter went on to become arguably the most careful student — and, at times, articulate translator — of Professor Stephenson’s evolving views on Q and the human sciences. In 1967, Professor Brown’s began his formal career at Kent State University in political science. In the course of his four and one-half decades, he has published three books, and approximately 100 refereed journal articles and book chapters on Q methodology per se or on topics in which Q has been used. Though it is currently out of print, his Political Subjectivity (Yale, 1980) is easily the most thorough and authoritative account of the principles and technical aspects of Q. He continues to be a prolific author and teacher, tutoring dozens of students in and out of political science and education at KSU. He is probably the most frequent responder to the Q-list, for example. The Q community depends on Steve to remind us of major Q events and William Stephenson milestones.

Brown was a founder of the International Society for the Scientific Study of Subjectivity and for more than 15 years was editor of its journal, Operant Subjectivity. He was also a founder of the International Society of Political Psychology, for 10 years was Book Review Editor for its journal, Political Psychology, and served as the Society’s Executive Director. He has also served as a member of the Editorial Boards of Public Opinion Quarterly, Experimental Study of Politics, Political Methodology, Journal of Melanie Klein and Object Relations, Policy Sciences, and Electronic Journal of Communication, and as contributing editor to Communication Yearbook. His methodological interests can be seen in his co-authored monograph on Experimental Design and Analysis and in courses and workshops on Q methodology recently presented in Taiwan, Essex (UK), Ankara, and Lima. Professor Brown’s interest in the role of subjectivity in political and social life is manifest in articles and book chapters on topics such as political psychology, group psychology, literature, policy science, and theory and methodology. He is past editor of Policy Sciences and founding member of the Society for the Policy Sciences. Brown just recently stepped down as the managing editor of Operant Subjectivity: The International Journal of Q Methodology. He was last year’s recipient of “The Harold D. Lasswell Award” for lifetime contributions to the study of political psychology. And now it is only fitting that he be awarded the first Stephenson Award for lifetime contributions to Q methodology.

Summer Q workshop offered at the University of Akron (Ohio)

This summer graduate level Introduction to Q Methodology Workshop will be offered at The University of Akron in Akron, OH. This workshop will meet once per week at UA in person and also online over a 5 week summer session. A description of the workshop is available here.

Those not graduate students at The University of Akron are welcome to register for the workshop. Students can register as special non-degree students through the graduate school online. Our College of Education outreach office can help with the questions regarding registration for the workshop: contact Barb Jenkins bmj@uakron.edu.

If you would like additional information about the workshop please contact Sue Ramlo sramlo@uakron.edu.

Q Methodology paper presented at the Eastern Educational Research Association Meeting

Ramlo, S. (2010, February). Applications of Q Methodology in Higher Education. Paper presented at the Eastern Educational Research Association, Savannah, GA.

ABSTRACT: William Stephenson specifically developed Q methodology, or Q, as a means of measuring subjectivity (Brown, 1980, 2008; McKeown & Thomas, 1988; Stephenson, 1953). Q has been used to determine perspectives / views in a wide variety of fields from marketing research to political science (Brown, 1980; McKeown & Thomas, 1988) but less frequently in education (Brown, 1980). In higher education, the author has used Q methodology to determine views about a variety of situations, from students� views about a newly developed bioinformatics course (Ramlo, McConnell, Duan, & Moore, 2008) to faculty members� views of reading circles as a professional development experience to improve teaching and learning in their classrooms (Ramlo & McConnell, 2008). The purpose of this paper will be to introduce Q methodology and demonstrate its versatility in addressing research purposes in higher education, especially where the focus is on determining people�s perceptions and / or grouping people based upon their views.

Ramlo et al. on evaluating a bioinformatics course

Ramlo, Susan E., David McConnell, Zhong-Hui Duan, & Francisco B. Moore (2008, June). Evaluating an inquiry-based bioinformatics course using Q methodology. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 17(3), 219-225.

Abstract: Faculty at a Midwestern metropolitan public university recently developed a course on bioinformatics that emphasized collaboration and inquiry. Bioinformatics, essentially the application of computational tools to biological data, is inherently interdisciplinary. Thus part of the challenge of creating this course was serving the needs and backgrounds of a diverse set of students, predominantly computer science and biology undergraduate and graduate students. Although the researchers desired to investigate student views of the course, they were interested in the potentially different perspectives. Q methodology, a measure of subjectivity, allowed the researchers to determine the various student perspectives in the bioinformatics course.

Susan E. Ramlo (@sramlo)  is in the Department of Engineering and Science Technology, University of Akron, Akron, OH. David McConnell (Department of Geology), Zhong-Hui Duan (Department of Computer Science), and Francisco B. Moore (Department of Biology) are also at the University of Akron.