Shedding the cobra effect: problematising thematic emergence, triangulation, saturation and member checking

Varpio, Lara, Ajjawi, Rola, Monrouxe, Lynn V., O'Brien, Bridget C. and Rees, Charlotte E. 2017, Shedding the cobra effect: problematising thematic emergence, triangulation, saturation and member checking, Medical education, vol. 51, no. 1, pp. 40-50, doi: 10.1111/medu.13124.

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Title Shedding the cobra effect: problematising thematic emergence, triangulation, saturation and member checking
Author(s) Varpio, Lara
Ajjawi, RolaORCID iD for Ajjawi, Rola
Monrouxe, Lynn V.
O'Brien, Bridget C.
Rees, Charlotte E.
Journal name Medical education
Volume number 51
Issue number 1
Start page 40
End page 50
Total pages 11
Publisher Wiley
Place of publication London, Eng.
Publication date 2017-01
ISSN 1365-2923
Summary CONTEXT: Qualitative research is widely accepted as a legitimate approach to inquiry in health professions education (HPE). To secure this status, qualitative researchers have developed a variety of strategies (e.g. reliance on post-positivist qualitative methodologies, use of different rhetorical techniques, etc.) to facilitate the acceptance of their research methodologies and methods by the HPE community. Although these strategies have supported the acceptance of qualitative research in HPE, they have also brought about some unintended consequences. One of these consequences is that some HPE scholars have begun to use terms in qualitative publications without critically reflecting on: (i) their ontological and epistemological roots; (ii) their definitions, or (iii) their implications. OBJECTIVES: In this paper, we share our critical reflections on four qualitative terms popularly used in the HPE literature: thematic emergence; triangulation; saturation, and member checking. METHODS: We discuss the methodological origins of these terms and the applications supported by these origins. We reflect critically on how these four terms became expected of qualitative research in HPE, and we reconsider their meanings and use by drawing on the broader qualitative methodology literature. CONCLUSIONS: Through this examination, we hope to encourage qualitative scholars in HPE to avoid using qualitative terms uncritically and non-reflexively.
Language eng
DOI 10.1111/medu.13124
Field of Research 130202 Curriculum and Pedagogy Theory and Development
130209 Medicine, Nursing and Health Curriculum and Pedagogy
Socio Economic Objective 930201 Pedagogy
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
Copyright notice ©2016, John Wiley & Sons Ltd and The Association for the Study of Medical Education
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