Health researchers from around the globe, including Canada, USA, UK, Australia, Japan, Israel, Germany, Norway, Brazil, and the Netherlands, gathered on October 2-3, 2017 at the McGill University Faculty Club to discuss insights and challenges related to critical qualitative health research. The day was structured to promote discussion, debate and exchange around ideas presented by two guest speakers: Joan Eakin, Professor Emerita at the University of Toronto Dalla Lana School of Public Health and Founding Director of the Centre for Critical Qualitative Health Research; and, Paula Gardner, Assistant Professor in Health Sciences at Brock University and Academic Fellow at the Centre for Critical Qualitative Health Research. Professor Eakin discussed critical qualitative research as a transgressive scientific practice and the implications for researchers as well as in the health field more generally. Professor Gardner shared her personal experiences and reflections as a critical qualitative health researcher in a hospital setting with lessons for all engaged in participatory approaches.
The following themes emerged in the sessions following each talk:
• the tensions of bringing theoretically-informed qualitative research into positivist, health research settings.
• the challenges of maintaining rigour and integrity as a critical qualitative researcher while also meeting health research’s structural demands, for instance funding and publication criteria.
• the personal (and therefore sensitive) reality of different epistemological standpoints, and the concomitant relational/interpersonal tensions these bring.
• the idea that “Everything is Data!” (Joan Eakin) and its associated ethical and methodological challenges.