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Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) Smith & Osborn (2008)

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1 Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) Smith & Osborn (2008)

2 What is IPA? Explores meaning & sense-making The aim of IPA is to explore in detail how participants are making sense of their personal and social world, and the main currency for an IPA study is the meanings particular experiences, events, states hold for participants.

3 What are IPA’s theoretical assumptions? Phenomenology Hermeneutics Idiography

4 What is phenomenology? Explores lived experience The approach is phenomenological in that it involves detailed examination of the participant’s lived experience; it attempts to explore personal experience and is concerned with an individual’s personal perception or account of an object or event.

5 What is hermeneutics? Requires sense-making or interpretation IPA emphasizes the active role of the researcher in the research process. One is trying to get close to the participant’s personal world, an ‘insider’s perspective’. Making sense of that other personal world requires a process of interpretative activity.

6 What is double-hermeneutics? Empathic and questioning IPA combines an empathic hermeneutics and a questioning hermeneutics. IPA is concerned with trying to understand the point of view of the participant (to empathize). At the same time, it is also critical of what the participant is saying or things the participant may be less aware of (to make sense of).

7 What is double-hermeneutics? Both the participant and the researcher are involved in sense- making or interpretation A two-stage interpretation process is involved. The participants are trying to make sense of their world; the researcher is trying to make sense of the participants trying to make sense of their world.

8 What is idiography? Committed to the individual case IPA focuses on the particular rather than the universal. It is committed to the in-depth analysis of each individual case. It argues for the detailed interpretative account of each case, hence, the focus on depth not breadth. It brings forth the re-evaluation of the single case study.

9 What is the research question? Focus on experience & meaning  Focus on personal meaning and sense making in a particular context, for people who share a particular experience  Focus on people’s understanding of their experiences  Focus on significant issues either ongoing or at a critical juncture in life

10 What is the research question? Be open and exploratory  The research question should be open and exploratory to gain rich & detailed descriptions of the phenomenon being studied  “How do people come to terms with the death of a partner?”

11 Data Collection Issues Small sample size that depends on  The degree of commitment to the case study level of analysis and reporting  The richness of the individual cases  The constraints one is operating under  Purposive sampling based on theoretical and practical considerations

12 Data Collection Issues Semi-structured interviews  The goal is to encourage the person to speak about the topic with as little prompting from the interviewer as possible.  Start with the most general question.  Prepare prompts or specific questions.  Use funneling or move from general views to specific concerns.

13 Doing IPA: A Step-By-Step Guide 1. Looking for themes in case 1 2. Connecting the themes a. Initial list of themes b. Clustering of themes c. Table of themes 3. Analysis of other cases 4. Writing up

14 Doing IPA: A Step-By-Step Guide Phase 1: Looking for themes in case 1 Read and reread the transcript closely in order to become as familiar as possible with the account. Use the left-hand margin to make initial notes of what is interesting or significant.

15 Doing IPA: A Step-By-Step Guide Phase 1: Looking for themes in case 1 There are no rules as to what to note; engage in “free textual analysis”. Use the right-hand margin to document emerging theme or theme titles. Initial notes are transformed into more abstract, more theoretical terms.

16 Doing IPA: A Step-By-Step Guide Phase 2: Connecting the themes a. Initial list of themes The emergent themes are listed. The initial list is based on the sequence in which they came up in the transcript. Cluster the themes following a more analytical or theoretical order, arriving at superordinate themes.

17 Doing IPA: A Step-By-Step Guide Phase 2: Connecting the themes b. Clustering of themes The clustering of themes is checked with the transcript to make sure the analysis works for the text. This iterative process involves a close interaction between analysis and text. Extract verbatim text that support the themes.

18 Doing IPA: A Step-By-Step Guide Phase 2: Connecting the themes c. Table of themes Themes are presented by cluster or superordinate theme. An identifier or verbatim text (data extract) is indicated for each theme.

19 Doing IPA: A Step-By-Step Guide Phase 3: Analysis of other cases Each participant’s transcript can be written up as a case study on its own. Succeeding analysis of other cases can use the themes from the first case or begin from scratch. It is advisable to analyze each case from scratch and then look for convergence or divergence after completing all case analyses.

20 Doing IPA: A Step-By-Step Guide Phase 4: Writing up A final theme of superordinate themes is constructed. The themes are translated into a narrative account where themes are explained and illustrated. The write up takes the form of an argument, using verbatim extracts to support the analysis.

21 Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis Smith & Osborn (2008)


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