Pre-conference with professor Scott Churchill
Monday, 24 June “Thematizing intentionality in Health science research”
A workshop on the phenomenological approach to research in the health sciences
What are the operative principles for engaging in phenomenological research? Where does the concept of “phenomenology” originate, and what is the impact of the phenomenologist’s epistemology on the way that research phenomena are brought into view? What constitutes “evidence” for such a researcher, and how do we bring ourselves to the encounter with that evidence? What are we actually “doing” when we read and reflect upon qualitative data? “How” are we going about the process of engaging in familiarization with the phenomenon? What are our principles for demarcating narrative reports into manageable “meaning units”? In what sense are we “involved” with the data (empathically, imaginatively, experientially) in our reflective procedure, which for the phenomenologist consists of “intuition,” “analysis,” and “description”?
For this workshop, I will be drawing upon my understanding of the application of phenomenological method to human science research, originally developed at Duquesne University in the 1970s and elaborated by interdisciplinary researchers internationally over the years, especially in the IHSRC. In addition to these influences, I also draw upon Dilthey and Heidegger, whose hermeneutic principles come into play when one is attempting to describe, not one’s own intuitions, but those of our research participants whose experience is communicated to us in their own words. We shall also consider the role of guiding concepts, such as Heidegger’s “existentials” or van den Berg’s distillation of them into his four “questions” to be posed to any interrogated experience.
This workshop will attempt to “sort out” where the researcher stands when reflecting upon his or her own experience, versus when reflecting upon someone else’s as communicated to us in narrative descriptions. All of these considerations will be directed towards the challenge of engaging the audience in reflection and dialogue with respect to their own styles of conducting human science research, in the hopes of more rigorously grounding our personal styles of research in the seminal principles of phenomenology (whether “eidetic” or “existential-hermeneutic”).
The following two questions regarding the “what” and the “how” of phenomenological investigation will form the basis of the workshop:
- What” is the subject matter of phenomenological psychology? That is, how does the researcher who is phenomenological in outlook understand what it is that we can investigate phenomenologically about our research phenomena?
- “How” do we have access to this realm? What kind of relationship must exist between researcher and research phenomenon, in order for a phenomenological approach to be realized?
In addressing these questions we shall clarify how it is – and why it is – that it is not only helpful, but important, that nursing scientists, psychologists, anthropologists engage in the epoché and the reduction (i.e., focusing) in the conduct of human science research.