Sudau Manuel Matthias: testimony from a speaker of the Q conference 2021 in Orlando

“I studied economic geography and social sciences and since 2015 I am a lecturer, research assistant and PhD student at the chair PLUS, at the Institute of Spatial and Landscape Development at ETH Zurich, Switzerland. I teach in the fields of spatial planning, environmental planning, GIS, site and project development, in various interdisciplinary project works and I supervise BSc and MSc theses. As a teaching specialist, I am also responsible for the coordination and development of the teaching activities at our chair and support the development of the study programs Spatial Engineering (BSc) and Spatial Development and Infrastructure Systems (MSc) at our department. Besides, I am working on my dissertation about acceptance of spatial planning policies for the management of soil resources, which I have almost finished. Engaging in teaching and teaching development is of particular interest to me, as I believe it is especially important to educate young and talented researchers so that we can join forces and tackle our global challenges posed by the changing climate.”

Sudau Manuel Matthias, a PhD student, lecturer and research assistant at the Institute of Spatial and Landscape Development at ETH in Zurich, Switzerland, applied Q methodology to investigate and characterize the subjective rationales for the acceptance or rejection of different spatial planning instruments*. He proved that although Q methodology naturally shows its strength in small P-sets, it can also be very efficient on large P-sets. In this interview, he explains his choice of the method, share his feelings about his experience with the method and the Q conference 2021.

How did you get started on your first Q study ?

Together with my colleagues Dr. Enrico Celio and Prof. Dr. Adrienne Grêt-Regamey, we were looking for a method to investigate and characterize the subjective rationales for the acceptance or rejection of different spatial planning instruments among the broad population of our case study area. Since interviews or quantitative surveys were not perfectly suited for this purpose for a variety of reasons, we broadly searched for other methods and quickly came across the work of William Stephenson, Steven Brown, Thomas Webler and Aiora Zabala. We learned the method on the basis of the manifold Q-methodology literature, and in the course of this we also came into contact with Maximilian Held, who helped us with the implementation via the qmethod package for R. In addition, the constructive discussions on the Q-methodology listserv were extremely helpful for some more specific challenges.

What did you enjoy the most in doing Q? What was the most challenging?

“The data evaluation and interpretation was particularly exciting. The idealized Q-sorts of the identified Q-factors allowed us to gain a new perspective on the relevance of different arguments for the acceptability of spatial planning instruments. In retrospect, I think the exploratory design of our Q-study, which consisted of an online survey and “classic” face-to-face interviews, was really exciting as well. We discussed the social perspectives identified in the online survey with participants in our interviews and were able to identify significant differences in the way our study participants reasoned depending on whether they conducted the Q-sorting procedure anonymously or face-to-face. The sheer size of our Q-study as well as its complexity (we analyzed several subsamples) also posed a great challenge, which we could only master with a lot of care and effort.”

In the study you presented in Orlando, you had a big p-sample that you broke down into subgroups, anything you’d like to share about having big p-sets vs small?

“Although Q-methodology naturally shows its strength in small P-sets, there are also some examples of large P-sets, which encouraged us to try this as well. By subsampling, we wanted to safeguard ourselves on the one hand (in case our large P-set would be a problem, we would still have the “normal-sized” samples as well as the more “classical” face-to-face interviews), and on the other hand we had to design a compact online survey so that the willingness to participate (of the broad population and on a rather specific topic) would be as high as possible. In the end, however, we obtained exciting results with the large P-set, which we could only strengthen and even further diversify in our subsamples. We could also think of it the other way around, that we combined several “normal” Q studies into one large P-set. This allowed us to be more responsible with our own researcher subjectivity. Reflecting on our results from the online survey with the interview participants also allowed us to gain further insights. Ultimately, however, there are surely other ways to deal responsibly and self-critically with one’s own subjectivity when evaluating a Q-study (e.g., with regard to the determination of the number of Q-factors).”

In the study you presented in Orlando, you also showed the relevance of theory in light of your q-sample, which was some nice work you did. Care to explain?

“Thank you. We assigned each statement of our Q-set to an acceptance factor derived from the literature. In interpreting our Q-factors, we were also able to identify differences in the importance of individual arguments within an acceptance factor through this assignment. In addition, this “categorization” of the statements of a Q-set also offers advantages when visualizing the results of a Q-study. Especially as newcomers in the Q-community, it was sometimes a bit difficult to comprehend and understand the tables and figures of other Q-studies. It would be quite exciting, for example, to see new and experimental representations of the characteristics of Q-factors in the future, of course, as an additional alternative to the inevitable tables.”

Would you recommend the conference to people new to Q and why?

“During our research with Q-methodology we have found the Q-community to be super helpful, welcoming and friendly, especially through the listserv. The fact that every concern, no matter how small, is always addressed with great sympathy and solved constructively and together, was not only helpful but also motivating. With my participation in the Q-conference 2022 I wanted to “give something back” to this great community and I was of course also curious to meet these inspiring and visionary scientists personally. My expectations were exceeded by far, because the atmosphere on site was simply incredible! All participants had a lot of time, there were countless exciting discussions and it was extremely inspiring to get to know the diverse areas of application of the method. I also enjoyed the fact that an equitable exchange was possible, from students to established professors and across countless research disciplines. I hope I will be able to attend again next year and look forward to seeing familiar and new faces!”

*Manuel Sudau, Enrico Celio & Adrienne Grêt-Regamey (2022) Application of Q-methodology for identifying factors of acceptance of spatial planning instruments, Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, DOI: 10.1080/09640568.2022.2043259

Wassim Simouri : first experience with Q methodology

Passionate about all things digital, I am a final-year student at Grenoble Ecole de Management with experience in eCommerce, UX, and IT project management in the food and energy industries. I aspire to work in the management of emerging technologies in the future.

Wassim Simouri, a final-year student at Grenoble Ecole de Management, applied Q methodology to the research question of his dissertation thesis. It was his first experience with the method. In this interview, he explains his choice of the method, share his feelings about this experience and gives advice to other students who would like to use it.

What prompted you to use Q methodology in your thesis?
“Q method is simple, time-saving, and can be entirely done online. Besides, Q was relevant to my research question. I needed a qualitative approach and Q goes even beyond that because it combines at the same time qualitative approach and statistical data analysis. Q method enabled the examination of all perspectives around my research question which, I believe, could have been more difficult if I used another method. Some of my peers who thing to use interviews collected very little data in much more time.”

What did you enjoy most about applying the Q methodology?
“What I liked most about the Q method is its simplicity. The steps to follow are clear which makes your research more time efficient. As a working student, this method made me save time, especially for the data collection which was entirely done online while I was studying or working.

What was the most complicated for you?
“Q is an underused method. Consequently, the courses that we were given did not include any information about it. So, with the help of my tutor, I had to discover a new method, and this also implies reading papers that explains or uses the Q method. There are numerous peer-reviewed papers available that a student can use to discover the method. Then, once understood, the steps are easy to follow.”

In the end, what was the advantage of using this method for your dissertation thesis?
“For me, the main benefit of using the Q method is to produce research that stands out from the rest. Q is still underused in technology research and other fields. If relevant to your research, using Q will enable you to benefit from all the advantages cited before (simplicity, time-saving, collecting data online, combination of qualitative and quantitative approaches) while generating an original study that meets all requirements of research.”

What would you advise students who want to try Q method?
“I invite students to read papers using or explaining the Q method to fully understand its advantages and limitations. If Q is relevant to their research question, they should not hesitate to go for it because it is a simple method that allows them to examine all viewpoints concerning a given problem. They should also not hesitate to communicate with their tutor if he or she is familiar with the methodology. Otherwise, there are videos and papers explaining step-by-step how to do a Q-study.”

Q Bibliography: Fraschini & Park on anxiety among undergraduate student-teachers of Korean as a second language

Fraschini, Nicola, & Hyunjin Park (2022). A Q methodology study to explore Korean as a second language undergraduate student-teachers’ anxiety. International Journal of Educational Research Open, 3, art. 100132. (Open Access:

Abstract: Teaching is an emotionally demanding job, and negative emotions such as anxiety affect teacher practices, identity, and student learning. Therefore, it is essential to consider the emotional challenges student-teachers expect from their future careers. This study explores how a cohort of student-teachers enrolled in a Korean as a Second Language (KSL) teaching undergraduate degree course perceive the emotional challenges of the teaching profession, with a focus on those aspects that are perceived to trigger anxiety. Q methodology was used to collect data from 37 Korean L1 undergraduate students, explore their shared worries and concerns, and inform improvements that can be brought to the undergraduate program under investigation. Results highlighted the presence of four main perspectives. The first perspective is shared by students concerned about lacking experience, skills, and clarity in delivering their teaching. The second perspective characterizes students concerned about poor work-life balance and being under-prepared for their classes. The third perspective represents students worried by the relationship with colleagues and supervisors and by issues of classroom management. The last perspective is shared by students concerned about being underestimated and to lack opportunities to express their creativity. Results are compared with previous research conducted on experienced Korean language teachers and discussed with reference to the Korean educational context. Practical suggestions for integrating emotional and affective components into undergraduate courses in foreign language teaching are provided.

Nicola Fraschini <> is in the School of Social Sciences/Asian Studies, University of Western Australia, Crawley, WA, Australia. Hyunjin Park <> is in the Department of Korean Language and Literature, Jeonju University, Jeonju-si, South Korea.

Q Bibliography: Rhoades & Brown on Q as a science of subjectivity (book chapter)

Rhoades, Gavin, & Zeta Brown (2019). Q-methodology: A science of subjectivity. In Mike Lambert & Jyothsna Latha Belliappa (Eds.), Practical research methods in education: An early researcher’s critical guide (pp. 88-102, Chap 9). London: Routledge.

Abstract: Q-methodology, or ‘Q’, is a unique, flexible methodology for exploring people’s opinions, perspectives and attitudes. This chapter first discusses Q’s key elements, including the ‘concourse’ of possible attitudes on a topic, the Q-set of statements which participants place on a distribution grid to show agreement or disagreement, and the Q-sort, the completed grid. The chapter then presents a nine-stage process of conducting a Q study, with examples of a grid template, a Q-sort and a set of analysed data, all drawn from the authors’ own Q studies. The use of additional qualitative methods alongside Q is also examined. Key elements of analysis (usually done with computer software) are explained, including ‘forced distribution’, which limits the number of extreme positions which participants can take, and ‘variance’, the overall differences of opinion as expressed across all completed Q-sorts. A former student then reflects on use of Q in her undergraduate dissertation, and the chapter concludes by reviewing in detail analysis and interpretation of data from a recent Q-based evaluation of a project to encourage school students to apply for university.

Gavin Rhoades <> is in the Centre for Developmental and Applied Research (CeDARE) and Zeta Brown <> is in the Education Observatory, Faculty of Education Health & Wellbeing, University of Wolverhampton, UK.

Q Bibliography: Ludlow et al. on aged care prioritization of care

Ludlow, Kristiana, Kate Churruca, Virginia Mumford, & Louise A. Ellis (2021, April). Aged care residents’ prioritization of care: A mixed‐methods study. Health Expectations: An International Journal of Public Participation in Health Care and Health Policy, 24(2), 525-536. (Link:

Abstract: Background: Eliciting residents’ priorities for their care is fundamental to delivering person‐centred care in residential aged care facilities (RACFs). Prioritization involves ordering different aspects of care in relation to one another by level of importance. By understanding residents’ priorities, care can be tailored to residents’ needs while considering practical limitations of RACFs. Objectives: To investigate aged care residents’ prioritization of care. Design: A mixed‐methods study comprising Q methodology and qualitative methods. Setting and Participants: Thirty‐eight residents living in one of five Australian RACFs. Method: Participants completed a card–sorting activity using Q methodology in which they ordered 34 aspects of care on a pre‐defined grid by level of importance. Data were analysed using inverted factor analysis to identify factors representing shared viewpoints. Participants also completed a think‐aloud task, demographic questionnaire, post‐sorting interview and semi‐structured interview. Inductive content analysis of qualitative data was conducted to interpret shared viewpoints and to identify influences on prioritization decision making. Results: Four viewpoints on care prioritization were identified through Q methodology: Maintaining a sense of spirituality and self in residential care, information sharing and family involvement, self‐reliance, and timely access to staff member support. Across the participant sample, residents prioritized being treated with respect, the management of medical conditions, and their independence. Inductive content analysis revealed four influences on prioritization decisions: level of dependency, dynamic needs, indifference, and availability of staff. Conclusions: Recommendations for providing care that align with residents’ priorities include establishing open communication channels with residents, supporting residents’ independence and enforcing safer staffing ratios.

Kristiana Ludlow <> is in the Australian Institute of Health Innovation, Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW, Australia.

Q Bibliography: Karakasis on Greek views of the 2015 bailout agreement

Karakasis, Vasileios P. (2022). Greek views of the 2015 bailout agreement: A matter of power asymmetries or socialisation? The International Spectator: Italian Journal of International Affairs. (ePub in advance of print) (Link:

Abstract: In July 2015, after intense negotiations with its creditors, Greece received a bailout in exchange for fiscal restraint. The coalition government at that time, led by the left-wing SYRIZA party, elected on the basis of an anti-austerity platform, eventually accepted the prevalent austerity frames of the creditors. Through the aid of Q-method, an analysis of Greek opinion leaders’ views of the negotiation highlights that this outcome can be explained in two different ways. The first posits that the ideological overtones that ruling SYRIZA injected in its negotiation strategy exhibited a lack of socialisation and undermined Greece’s already weak bargaining position. The second focuses on the institutional status quo bias in the Eurogroup in Germany’s favour, which discourages any change in the Eurozone. These two views may have partly been influenced by questions of political accountability.

Vasileios P Karakasis <> is in European Studies and with the Research Group “Changing Role of Europe,” The Hague University of Applied Sciences, The Hague, Netherlands.

Q Bibliography: Logan on Don Lindberg’s home library and leadership traits

Logan, Robert A. (2021). Don Lindberg’s home library and leadership traits. In Betsy L. Humphreys, Robert A. Logan, Randolph A. Miller, & Elliot R. Siegel (Eds.), Transforming biomedical informatics and health information access: Don Lindberg and the U.S. National Library of Medicine (Health Technology and Informatics series, Vol. 288, pp. 437-453). Amsterdam, Berlin, and Washington: IOS Press. ISBN 978-1-64368-238-9 (print), ISBN 978-1-64368-239-6 (online). (Open Access:

Abstract: This chapter introduces the importance and some of the multidisciplinary diversity in Donald A.B. Lindberg M.D.’s home library. The latter collection minimally suggests his varied interests, which often inspired a multidisciplinary approach to tackling problems and managing the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM). Dr. Lindberg converted the ideas he picked up from reading into administering projects as well as to set aspirational goals for NLM and for himself. The chapter suggests Dr. Lindberg’s home library was an enduring reservoir of knowledge, judgment, planning, and creativity. The chapter also discusses two of Dr. Lindberg’s leadership traits: the cultivation of discovery and project development in educational administration and the need for leaders to determine and act in the greater public interest. The chapter suggests the latter two traits defined Dr. Lindberg’s NLM leadership.

Robert A Logan <> is retired from the U.S. National Library of Medicine. He is past president of ISSSS and hosted the 23rd annual meeting in Bethesda, MD (2007) at which Donald Lindberg (1933-2019) was the banquet speaker. Lindberg was director of the United States National Library of Medicine (, founding president of the American Medical Informatics Association, and played a prominent role in the development of PubMed. He was in the University of Missouri Medical School from 1960 to 1984 and was a close friend of William Stephenson, as discussed in the above chapter.

Q Bibliography: D’Agostini et al. on Hong Kong shippers’ selection criteria of ocean carriers

D’Agostini, Enrico, Sohyun Jo, Hyung-Sik Nam, & Young Soo Kim (2022, January). Q-method and its application in clustering Hong Kong shippers’ selection criteria of ocean carriers. Research in Transportation Business & Management, art. 100785. (ePub in advance of print) (Link:

Abstract: Despite recent geopolitical tensions across nations, the liner shipping industry still plays a pivotal role in supporting international trade by ensuring low-cost transportation services. However, given the increased intensity of mergers and acquisitions, the formation of new shipping alliances and general perception of the commoditisation of ocean carriers pose numerous risks in how shipping line operations interact with shippers’ needs. Previous research has identified several factors regarding ocean carrier selection criteria from the shippers’ perspective, mainly focusing on regional markets. Nonetheless, knowledge of how shippers address these factors is limited. In this study, through a mix of qualitative and quantitative analyses, Q-methodology is applied to investigate shippers’ choice behaviour regarding ocean carriers in Hong Kong. The results of our analysis show the emergence of three unique clusters of shippers with different needs when considering the ocean carrier selection process. The three clusters are ‘reliability and flexibility of service achiever’, ‘long-term shipper-carrier relationship builder’, and ‘customer service and cost-saving seeker’. These findings may assist in enabling shipping lines to enhance their competitiveness by analysing and selecting the most suitable strategy for serving customers and identifying operational and marketing areas that need to be restructured or strengthened.

Enrico D’agostini <> and Young Soo Kim <> are in the Department of International Logistics, Tongmyong University; Sohyun Jo <> is in the Division of Navigation Convergence Studies, and Hyung-Sik Nam <> is in the Department of Logistics, Korea Maritime and Ocean University, Busan, Republic of Korea.

Q Bibliography: Zagata, Uhnak, & Hrabák on societal roles and transformative potential of organic agriculture

Zagata, Lukas, Tomas Uhnak, & Jiří Hrabák (2021, December). Moderately radical? Stakeholders’ perspectives on societal roles and transformative potential of organic agriculture. Ecological Economics, 190(10), art. 107208. (Link:

Abstract: Organic agriculture has achieved many important milestones over the last three decades. Despite these achievements, criticism of the mainstream model of agriculture, which had originally contributed to the success of the organic sector, is potentially having a negative impact on its transformative potential. The main goal of this paper is to provide further empirical evidence that captures ongoing changes in the social discourse of the organic movement. Specific attention is paid to the formation of a relationship between the organic movement and other alternative initiatives and conventional agriculture, based on the potentially shared values of sustainability as articulated in the Organic 3.0 strategy. The empirical study was conducted in the Czech Republic. The study identifies three distinct discourses that show how different groups of stakeholders form their expectations towards organic farming. The findings of our study suggest that their views differ significantly when it comes to the functions of organic farming in society. Results of the study show that the dominant social discourse on organic farming principally conveys the Organic 3.0 strategy.

Lukas Zagata <>, Tomas Uhnak <>, and Jiří Hrabák <> are in the Faculty of Economics and Management, Czech University of Life Sciences, Prague, Czech Republic.

Q Bibliography: Di Giuseppe et al. on children’s defense mechanisms

Di Giuseppe, Mariagrazia, Tracy A. Prout, Lauren Ammar, Thomas Kui, & Ciro Conversano (2021). Assessing children’s defense mechanisms with the Defense Mechanisms Rating Scales Q-sort for Children. Research in Psychotherapy: Psychopathology, Process and Outcome, 24(3), 320-327. (Open Access:

Abstract: Defense mechanisms are unconscious and automatic psychological processes that serve to protect the individual from painful emotions and thoughts. There is ample evidence from the adult psychotherapy and mental health literature suggesting the salience of defenses in the maintenance and amelioration of psychological distress. Although several tools for the assessment of children’s defenses exist, most rely on projective and self-report tools, and none are based on the empirically derived hierarchy of defenses. This paper outlines the development of the defense mechanisms rating scale Q-sort for children (DMRS-Q-C), a 60-item, observer-rated tool for coding the use of defenses in child psychotherapy sessions. Modifications to the Defense Mechanisms Rating Scale Q-Sort for adults to create a developmentally relevant measure and the process by which expert child psychotherapists collaborated to develop the DMRS-Q-C are discussed. A clinical vignette describing the child’s defensive functioning as assessed by the innovative DMRS-Q-C method is also reported. Finally, we provide an overview of forthcoming research evaluating the validity of the DMRS-Q-C.

Mariagrazia Di Giuseppe <> is in the Department of Surgical, Medical and Molecular Pathology, Critical and Care Medicine, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy.