Research in a Quantocentric World: The Costs of Ignoring Diversity

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Narrowing perspectives in many disciplines have implications for academics pursuing qualitative research. Social work, for example, has a history of viewing social and individual behavior from multi-dimensional perspectives, but recent developments in the discipline include emphasis on evidence based practice, often narrowly defined as research utilizing quantitative methods. Academicians have embraced, large-scale studies with complex statistical methods, and a world view that hypotheses, operationalization and datasets are the primary legitimate criteria for empirical investigation. This is quantocentrism and it not only denies us the richness that qualitative methods can provide but marginalizes researchers who employ qualitative methods. Failing the test of pre-developed hypotheses and sophisticated statistics, qualitative research projects have difficulty attaining IRB approval, funding and legitimacy. This denies the opportunity to develop the complex, nuanced, and emic research findings that qualitative research generates and also limits the voice of historically silenced groups. All “centrisms” entail injustice to individuals as well as the loss of diverse viewpoints. W.E.B. DuBois described the injustice of double-consciousness- the necessity of knowing Eurocentric norms and behaviors in addition to his own African American culture. Similarly, qualitative researchers must be familiar with quantitative methods to function in the academy, but quantitative colleagues are not held to the same standard for qualitative methods. This workshop will focus on what the knowledge-base loses when quantocentrism is prevalent. The presenters will briefly identify: Structural aspects of quantocentrism; Quantocentrism’s impact on careers; Consequences for knowledge-building; Losses in theory-building, epistemology, and ethics; Strategies for remedying negative impacts of quantocentrism. A facilitated discussion will explore participants’ perceptions of the legitimacy of these arguments and the ramifications.


Keywords: Quantocentrism, Qualitative Research Methods, Academic Research, Knowledge-Building
Stream: Research Methodologies, Quantitative and Qualitative Methods
Presentation Type: Workshop Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Dr. Judith McCoyd

Assistant Professor, School of Social Work, Rutgers University
Camden, New Jersey, USA

Judith McCoyd was a social worker in health care settings for 20 years before earning her PhD in Social Work and Social Research and entering the academy. She was also the Vice President of the National Association of Perinatal Social Workers for many years. Her substantive work is in the area of high- tech perinatal health services, bereavement and decision-making. Her current work explores decision-making processes and bereavement when a fetal anomaly is diagnosed in a desired pregnancy and/or where a multi fetal pregnancy reduction may be indicated. The complexity and process-oriented nature of these questions has promoted her interest in qualitative methodology. She is particularly concerned about the suspect legitimacy afforded qualitative work in the social work academy.

Dr. Yvonne Johnson

Assistant Professor, School of Social Work, Rutgers University
New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA


Dr. Shari Munch

Associate Professor, School of Social Work, Rutgers University
New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA

Shari Munch, MSW, PhD, LCSW is a licensed clinical social worker who
has worked in health care for 25 years. She earned an Interdisciplinary PhD in Social Science and Social Work from Michigan State University in 1998, and entered an academic career at Rutgers University in 1999. Her clinical and research
interests are in health care, perinatal health care, clinical social
work and qualitative research.

Dr. Michael LaSala

Associate Professor, School of Social Work, Rutgers University
New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA


Ref: I08P0201