Aim To introduce nurse and healthcare researchers to the ethnomethodological (EM) criteria of the unique adequacy (UA) requirement of methods and to provide guidance on conducting UA research.
Background Despite the recent shift in emphasis from quantitative to qualitative methods in nursing research, the practice of EM has been largely overlooked.
Data sources Published work in EM.
Review methods The paper draws on discussions of UA and related concepts in foundational texts of the discipline, as well as the few examples that exist in nursing research.
Discussion EM is a challenging practice to master but when understood and practised properly, it can yield findings that are unavailable to other approaches. UA insists simultaneously on a day-to-day familiarity with the research setting and a principled refusal of explanatory theories that are not native to that setting. Thus, in the UA requirement, EM provides criteria for effectively identifying problems and analysis without recourse to theoretical commitments that might distort or obscure the reality of the research/setting.
Conclusion With regards to the increasing call for more appropriate ways of combating the challenges associated with conducting real-world research, EM provides an effective and alternative method. In EM, nurse researchers can find the potential to develop practical solutions that are sensitive to the setting in which problems occurs. This can underpin the development of an approach to nurse research that is tailored to the principles and practices of the profession.
Implications for research/practice Conformance to the UA requirement enables an exclusive focus on workplace issues. UA research provides an account of those issues as they are known and understood to members of the workplace setting. UA directs attention to the detailed analysis of work practices, providing a basis for practical solutions and innovations.
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