Reflexivity is about acknowledging your role in the research. As a qualitative researcher, you are part of the research process, and your prior experiences, assumptions and beliefs will influence the research process. Researcher reflexivity is a type of critical reflection about the position you are taking as a researcher and how you have taken this stance into account in your research. It is an important way to establish rigour in qualitative research, similar to the processes of defining measurement tools for validity in quantitative research.
Being reflexive means being attentive to:
- Cultural, political, social, and ideological origins of your own perspective and voice.
- The perspectives and voices of those you interview or observe.
- The perspectives of those to whom you report your research.
For example, Nabreesa spoke about how her past experiences as a medical doctor and studies in public health influenced her research and interest in pursuing her research topic.
Leonie similarly referred to her experiences encountering ethical challenges in veterinary practice and how she wanted to make a difference in the ethics education for veterinarians. A small excerpt from Leonie's thesis shows how reflexivity might be included within the methods section of the research:
As a practising small animal veterinarian I was aware that when interviewing my colleagues I needed to try and remain neutral, setting aside my own views and reactions and to listen from the perspective of a researcher. It was however difficult for me to be totally objective and to set aside my personal experience, and thus taking an insider position.
In discussing how he developed his survey questions, Cameron also illustrated an example of researcher reflexivity (acknowledging his experience in simulation education influencing the development of the survey questions):
I initially devised the survey questions based on my experience of simulation education teaching. I also referred to literature about current known SBE practice.
- Watt, D. (2007). On Becoming a Qualitative Researcher: The Value of Reflexivity. Qualitative Report, 12(1), 82-101. Retrieved from http://go.unimelb.edu.au/dm56
- Hiller, A. J., & Vears, D. F. (2016). Reflexivity and the clinician-researcher: managing participant misconceptions. Qualitative Research Journal, 16(1), 13-25.
- Gillam, L., & Guillemin, M. (2018) Overcoming mistrust between Research Ethics Committees and Researchers. In Iphofen, R., & Tolich, M. (Eds.). (2018). The SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Research Ethics (pp. 263-276). London, UK: Sage.