Is reflexivity the key to minimising problems of interpretation in phenomenological research?
Reflexivity Previous     Next

Is reflexivity the key to minimising problems of interpretation in phenomenological research?

Marie Clancy Senior lecturer, University of Wolverhampton, Walsall, UK

Aim To discuss and demonstrate the use of reflexivity in interpretive phenomenological analysis.

Background Interpretative phenomenological analysis focuses on understanding individual experiences through interpretation. A double hermeneutic is created as the researcher makes sense of participants’ experiences. It is crucial to undergo a process of reflexivity to provide a credible and plausible explanation of participants’ accounts and avoid assumptions.

Data sources Research undertaken with six sub-Saharan African healthcare professionals.

Review methods Articles were selected from Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health, Medline and Google Scholar. Searches were based on relevance and with priority to those dated over the past five years.

Discussion This article has reviewed pertinent literature and personal examples of reflexivity in research practice to aid nurse researcher understanding and encourage its use, particularly when employing interpretative methodologies.

Conclusion Reflexivity is an active process that may, at times, be difficult and probing, but which is crucial to becoming self-aware and thus able to see any influences that could affect data collection or analysis. This process will increase understanding and allow for a more rigorous approach.

Implications for practice Many practical examples are offered for using reflexivity. Nurse researchers may choose one or a mixture of the options offered, such as use of time and space to distance themselves from their research, aspects of practical self-presentation, or a reflexive diary.

Nurse Researcher. 20, 6, 12-16. doi: 10.7748/nr2013.

Peer review

This article has been subject to double blind peer review

Conflict of interest

None declared

Received: 08 November 2012

Accepted: 07 February 2013

Want to read more?

Already subscribed? Log in


Unlock full access to RCNi Plus today

Save over 50% on your first 3 months

Your subscription package includes:
  • Unlimited online access to all 10 RCNi Journals and their archives
  • Customisable dashboard featuring 200+ topics
  • RCNi Learning featuring 180+ RCN accredited learning modules
  • RCNi Portfolio to build evidence for revalidation
  • Personalised newsletters tailored to your interests
RCN student member? Try Nursing Standard Student

Alternatively, you can purchase access to this article for the next seven days. Buy now