I have been thinking about hosting a tweetchat on qualitative research for some time now, but resisted because I consider myself more of a qualitative enthusiast, rather than an expert. However, upon reflection, I’ve decided it doesn’t matter. I don’t believe that there is a “right” way to do qualitative research and I’m not personally prescriptive in my approach. In my opinion, there are as many ways to “do” research, as there are people and research projects. Co-hosting over 40 #VirtualNotViral tweetchats with Pat Thomson has given me the confidence that this is something I could try. Besides, I really want a way for people to come together and actually chat about qualitative research. I don’t need to be an expert for that, right?

Why a qualitative research tweetchat?

Last year, I decided to learn more about qualitative methods and methodology. I’m starting a qualitative reading group this year and hopefully an analysis club as well. The qualitative research tweetchat is part of that. I’m hoping it will not only be fun, but a way to get to know other people interest in qualitative methods and methodology.

I’d also like to build on the growing qualitative research community on Twitter. A place where everyone can find information on qualitative research, share ideas and resources, and be free to ask all the silly questions they’d like. While Twitter can be filled with criticism and general unpleasantness, my experience of tweetchats has been positive, where people are helpful, generous and kind.

I see the chat as a forum for everyone (be they novice or more experienced researchers) to share their thoughts and ideas. A place where researchers can discuss the practical side of doing research, share doubts, concerns, ideas and resources relating to qualitative research, as well as some of the more general and technical sides of qualitative research including terminology.

A quick note about the hashtag: I had originally chosen #QualMethodsChat, but thought it was too long, and there was potential for people to misspell it, so I’ve settled on #QualChat.

How the chat works

Most tweet-chats announce a date and time for the chat, as well as a duration. To join in, mark the date and time in your calendar and log into Twitter just before the chat. The first #QualChat will be on Tues 9th Feb 9.15am AEDT. To check your time zone, have a look here.

To actually “join” the chat, follow the allocated hashtag of the chat (in this case #QualChat) by typing it in your “search”. Make sure to select “latest” not “top” so that you see all the up-to-date tweets with the hashtag. You may need to refresh your screen every now and then.

Participating in the chat:

Generally, the tweetchat host will post questions with numbers such as ’Q1’. When replying to the questions, reply with ’A1’ to Q1, and ’A2’ to ’Q2’. This helps others know what question you are replying to, and as always, remember to include the hashtag in the reply as well. A good example of this is the #CRMethodsChat run by @DrHelenKara. If you have a search on Twitter, you will get a good feel for how tweetchats work. Here is a screenshot form one of the questions:

The third party app Tweetdeck can be useful for tweetchats because you can see your mentions/notifications and follow the hashtag all on the same screen, if you want to know more, you can find info on that here. I have two web pages open both with Twitter, one following the hashtag, and the other following the notifications in case I miss anything without a hashtag.

What do I hope will come out of these tweetchats?

I want a place where people can network and build on the online qualitative community. I attended qualitative research meets for many years. One of the things I liked about them was that I felt comfortable sharing my mistakes, asking basic “how to” questions and finding answers that worked for me, not necessarily “right” ones that came from a book. Ultimately, I hope that people walk away from the tweetchats with more confidence in their approach to qualitative research, as well as some answers to questions on areas they have felt stuck. This is ultimately what I hope will be created from the #QualChat.

After the chat is finished, I will archive the chat in Twitter “Moments” and/or pool together something in the form of a blog post. This way, the conversation can be archived together in one place. I know that the time won’t work for some people given locations and time zones, so I will retweet some of the questions over the course of the day. I hope the conversation continues over time.

I am not sure what will happen beyond the first tweetchat as yet, but hopefully something exciting will emerge out of it. I have ideas for the first #QualChat and questions ready, so – for those joining – come with your favourite references, resources, Twitter accounts, blogs, websites and the like!

If you’re interested, follow me on Twitter on @anujacabraal for updates.

More posts on tweetchats for beginners:

From @LTURED team Tweetchats (latrobe.edu.au)

from @Avimode A beginners guide to Tweetchatting | Avidmode

from Narelle Lemon (@Rellypops) The 101 of Tweet Chat participation – Chat with Rellypops (wordpress.com)

For more info, check out this post by Helen Kara on how to host a successful tweetchat on the Research Whisperer blog How to host a successful chat on Twitter – The Research Whisperer

2 thoughts on “#QualChat: A Tweetchat on qualitative research.

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