Doing reflexivity in psychological research – What’s the point? What’s the practice?

Lazard, Lisa and McAvoy, Jean (2018). Doing reflexivity in psychological research – What’s the point? What’s the practice? Qualitative Research in Psychology (Early Access).

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/14780887.2017.1400144

Abstract

Reflexivity is a fundamental expectation of qualitative work in psychology (and the wider social sciences) but what it looks like and how we do it, is frequently ambiguous and implicit. This makes doing reflexivity a challenging endeavour, particularly for those new to using qualitative methodologies. This paper explores reflexivity as a form of critical thinking and evaluation. It does so by demarcating reflexive activity in relation to other forms of critical thinking used in psychology. Using notions of perspectival location, we shed some practical light on the objectives and processes of reflexivity, from its significance in the identification of a research topic, through designing, conducting, and writing up the research report. The overarching question, “what is the point of reflexivity?”, is answered through an interrogation of common assumptions around producing ‘good’ research in psychology as well as through a series of key questions illuminating different steps in the research process. We conclude that reflexivity requires the unpacking of partial, positioned and affective perspectives we bring to the research. This process facilitates our questioning and moves us beyond our own taken-for-granted assumptions and sense-making of the social world.

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