Qualitative Research at Glasgow

The Qualitative Research at Glasgow (QRaG) group is based in the School of Social & Political Sciences at the University of Glasgow. The group promotes interdisciplinary use of qualitative methods in research and teaching.

Group activities include a seminar series, occasional methods workshops and short courses on various qualitative analysis techniques. Seminars cluster in to two themes:

  • reporting substantive research, exploring the value of qualitative methods in terms of production of knowledge; and
  • fundamental discussions on the politics, ethics, challenges and opportunities inherent in a specific method or methodology.

Join our mailing list or contact Dr. Jo Ferrie for more information.

Who are we?

QRaG is a collaborative group based within the School of Social & Political Sciences, and open to colleagues and PGR students across the University.

Contact Us

QRaG is co-ordinated by Jo Ferrie, Senior Lecturer in Social Research Methods.


Events & Seminars


April Shaw, Sociology, University of Glasgow

Tuesday 14 January 2020, 12-1 pm

Room 234, St Andrews Building 


'Using Object Elicitation Methods in Qualitative Interviews'

Abstract: The seminar will highlight the efficacy of using object elicitation methods (OEM)  part of a qualitative interview process with 27 mid-life and older women who self-identify as in recovery from drug use.

OEM have been used in a number of health-related studies with adults and my aim was to explore the meanings the women might give to their objects, anticipating perhaps a richer and deeper understanding of the values they embraced as recovering drug users.

The women were asked to identify and bring along an object that was meaningful to them but rather than being an add-on or novelty to the main interviews, the objects facilitated discussion, helped build rapport and produced a rich source of data that explored the women’s perceptions of their past, current and future identities.

Although still at the early analytical stage, preliminary questions relate to:


1. What is the object and what is its meaning?

2. How does the object relate to the research question?

3. What, if any, is the common thread running through the objects?


The overall contribution of OEM produced mixed results and this seminar will outline the method, illustrate the objects and meanings ascribed to them by the women, and reflect on the challenges of using OEM as part of the interview process.

Please register for this event at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/qualitative-research-at-glasgow-seminar-using-object-elicitation-methods-tickets-89047747209



Dr Alasdair Stewart, Urban Studies, University of Glasgow

Tuesday 28 January 2020, 12-1 pm

Room 133, Hetherington Building


'Free and Open Source QDAS: You have nothing to lose but your license fees!'

Abstract: Qualitative data analysis software (QDAS) has the potential to revolutionise the array of analysis techniques and the scale of qualitative research. Yet, QDAS has largely failed to facilitate methodological innovation and its status and acceptance within qualitative research remains uneven. Historically, the QDAS literature was critical of software, essentialising design problems as inherent limitations. More recent contributions have challenged this, but shifted blame to poor training and user resistance. This paper makes an alternative critique by bringing together Marx’s theory of alienation and the case for free software. It sees significant limitations in extant QDAS, but views these as a product of the proprietary model they are based on. A model that centralises the means of analysis in the hands of a few private companies, locks data behind proprietary file formats, and forces researchers to adapt their analysis to the limited tools provided. By undermining community and frustrating analysis, it alienates researchers from their data, each other, and themselves. Free software restores power to communities through enshrining the freedom to use, study, share, and modify the software for any purpose. The design philosophy of PythiaQDA, a free and open source QDAS in (very) early development, will be used to illustrate the revolutionary potential of these freedoms. PythiaQDA’s vision of the future of qualitative analysis is one where everyone can access the means of analysis, modify the software to create new methodologies, work seamlessly with existing open source quantitative software, and share their analysis and findings in new creative ways.

Please register for this event at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/free-and-open-source-qdas-you-have-nothing-to-lose-but-your-license-fees-tickets-89052042055


Professor Carin Runciman, Centre for Social Change, Sociology, University of Johannesburg

Tuesday 11 February 2020, 12-1 pm

Room 133, Hetherington Building 


'Research for social change: A scholar-activist perspective'

Abstract: Globally, the working class finds itself under attack through the advance of neoliberalism. In South Africa, black working class communities have, since the end of apartheid, continued to resist the structural inequalities created by neoliberalism, apartheid and colonialism. This paper provide a reflexive account on how my research with, on and for community organisations and social movements has attempted to play a wider role in forging progressive social change. The paper reflects on two interventions I have made into public and policy debates in South Africa. The first concerns the portrayal of black working class communities engaged in community protests for basic needs, such as housing, water and electricity. It is estimated that at least two such protests have occurred a day in South Africa since 2005. This has led to state responses that have sought to characterise protesters as part of an ungrateful and undeserving poor to outright state violence. The second considers the role of research in a campaign against amendments to the Labour Relation Act (LRA) in order to protect the right to strike in South Africa. The paper will reflect upon my experience of being a scholar-activist and what this means for research practice, design and methods. Critically, this paper will reflect upon the structural power I am afforded as a white, cis-gendered, middle class female academic to speak for and on behalf of those I research with and on, the implications this has for research and movement building.   

Please register for this event at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/research-for-social-change-a-scholar-activist-perspective-tickets-89052290799


Dr Ed Hall, Geography, University of Dundee

Tuesday 25 February 2020 12-1 pm

Room 133, Hetherington Building 

Title & Abstract: TBC, topic: Participatory Methods