“I Found a Fit”: Doctoral Student Narratives of Coming to a Theoretical Home in a Qualitative Research Class

Kathleen deMarrais, Lauren Moret, Elizabeth M. Pope


A critical aspect of learning qualitative research methodology in a doctoral program is to develop deep knowledge of the theoretical frameworks informing one’s research. An in-depth reading of those theories is necessary for them to be used to inform and guide dissertation research. Based in narrative inquiry, this study examined the journeys of 18 novice qualitative researchers as they came to understand theory and develop a theoretical home to inform their doctoral research. Findings include 1) the emotional concerns, uncertainty, and confusion when asked to engage with theory and theoretical frameworks to inform their research for the first time; 2) supports and strategies used to engage deeply with theories; and 3) students’ use of metaphors to describe their relationships with theories over the course of their doctoral studies as they came to a “theoretical home”. Implications for doctoral training in qualitative research include the need to engage pedagogically with students around the complexities and messiness of the role of theory in research.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5430/irhe.v3n2p83


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