Looking Back to Move Forward: The Value of Reflexive Journaling for Novice Researchers

Kylie Meyer, Rosalind Willis
Journal of Gerontological Social Work 2018 December 21, : 1-8
For novice qualitative researchers, each encounter in the field yields a ream of questions and uncertainties. While fieldwork has inherent ambiguities for all researchers, novice researchers have less experience on which to draw to assess their interactions with participants. Adding to this uncertainty, gerontological fieldwork is frequently imbued by age-and cohort-related nuances, characteristics which new researchers often do not share with participants. It is also not uncommon for new researchers to work primarily alone on projects, such as dissertations and theses. Mentors and academic advisors can help examine research encounters, however advice may be most constructive following engagement in reflexive exercises. We discuss the benefits of using reflexive journaling to assist with answering the many questions generated while conducting qualitative interviews during a study with family carers. Advisors should consider encouraging the use of reflexive journaling to help novices grow as researchers.

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