• Mirrors, Portraits and Member Checking: Managing Difficult Moments of Knowledge Exchange in the Social Sciences

      Madill, A.; Sullivan, Paul W. (2018-11)
      Consultation is an important feature of research and, increasingly, researchers are required to work in partnership with stakeholders to increase the impact of their work. Our aim is to demonstrate what can be learned from the scholarship on, and practice of, member checking to facilitate productive knowledge exchange. Using dialogical analysis we explore three member check interactions from three different qualitative psychology projects focusing our analysis on difficult moments between researchers and participants conceptualised here as ‘sore spots’. We identify two major genres in these sequences: participant ambivalence and participant challenge. We then consider passages that allow us to explore a more theoretical understanding of these two genres in terms of the metaphor of portraits and mirrors. Overall, we outline how implicit epistemologies and theories of subjectivity (uncomplicated, blank, and complex) may be linked to the way in which stakeholders approach research. We also provide a map with regard to the theories within which member checks can be undertaken, associated research practices in terms of a range of researcher responses to stakeholder ambivalence and challenge, and implications of these moments for knowledge exchange for qualitative research but also for psychological science as a whole. We conclude that sore spots in knowledge exchange process can be productive opportunities of transformational validity.