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Qualitative Research Methods in Human Geography

Fourth Edition

Edited by Iain Hay

Now in its fourth edition, Qualitative Research Methods in Human Geography continues to offer a practical, in-depth guide to understanding and conducting qualitative research in human geography. Featuring contributions from leading Canadian, American, and international experts in the field, this revised and expanded new edition provides a diverse array of engaging examples that illustrate the real-world application of qualitative research techniques.

Readership : Qualitative Research Methods in Human Geography, 4e is intended for undergraduate students of human geography at the second-, third-, and fourth-year level. This text is also a fit for graduate courses on qualitative research methods in human geography.


  • "From an excellent primer for undergraduate students to an invaluable and often 'dog-eared' resource for graduate students, this is the most comprehensive and accessible text on qualitative methodologies and methods in geography."
    --Mark Skinner, Trent University

  • "The main strengths of this textbook are that it situates qualitative methods within broader theoretical and epistemological contexts. . . . The focus on ethics and epistemology, balanced by practical considerations, sets this text apart from others."
    --Gwendolyn Blue, University of Calgary

Part 1: "Introducing" Qualitative Research in Human Geography
1. Hilary P.M. Winchester and Matthew W. Rofe: Qualitative Research and Its Place in Human Geography
Chapter Overview
- What is Qualitative Research?
- What Questions does Qualitative Research Answer?
- Types of Qualitative Research
-- Oral Methods
-- Textual Methods
-- Participatory Research Methods
-- New Foci
- The Contribution of Qualitative and Quantitative Geography
- The History of Qualitative Research in Geography
Contemporary Qualitative Geography - Theory/Method Links
2. Robyn Dowling: Power, Subjectivity, and Ethics in Qualitative Research
- Introduction: On the Social Relations of Research
- Research Ethics and Institutional Review of Research Ethics
-- Privacy and Confidentiality
-- Informed Consent
-- Harm
-- Ethics and Online Research
- Criticisms of, and Moving Beyond, Ethical Guidelines
- Critical Reflexivity
- Power Relations in Qualitative Research
- Objectivity, Subjectivity, and Intersubjectivity in Qualitative Data Collection
3. Richie Howitt and Stan Stevens: Cross-cultural Research: Ethics, Methods, and Relationships
- Chapter Overview: An Explanation of Our Writing Method
- Modes of Cross-Cultural Engagement: Colonial, Post-Colonial, Decolonizing, and Inclusionary Research
- Getting Started: Research Legitimacy and Local Authorization
- Doing the Work
-- The Scale Politics of Cross-Cultural Research Projects
-- Social/Cultural Transmission and Creation of Knowledge
-- Collaborative and Participatory Research
-- Constructing Legitimacy
- Making Sense, Reaching Conclusions
4. Jay T. Johnson and Clare Madge: Empowering Methodologies: Feminist and Indigenous Approaches NEW
- Feminist Research Practice
- Indigenous Research
- Using Empowering Methods
1. Approaching the Research
2. Doing the Research
3. The Politics of the Research
- Summary: A Critical Reflection
5. Janice Monk and Richard Bedford: Writing a Compelling Research Proposal
- The Research Challenge
- Where Do Research Ideas Come From?
- Getting Started
- Specifying Your Research Question
- Framing Your Research
- Developing Your Methodology
- Writing the Proposal
- Seeking Funding for Research
6. Elaine Stratford and Matt Bradshaw: Qualitative Research Design and Rigour
- Asking Research Questions
-- From Asking Research Questions to Conducting Research
- Selecting Cases and Participants
-- Selecting Cases
-- Selecting Participants
-- Participant Selection
-- How Many Participants?
- Ensuring Rigour
7. Jamie Baxter: Case Studies in Qualitative Research
- What Is a Case Study?
- The Historical Development of the Case Study
- N=1 and the Importance of Depth and Context
- Types of Case Studies
-- Theory Testing and Theory Generating cases
-- Case Studies across Time and Space
-- Time: Cross-Sectional and Longitudinal Case Studies
-- Space: Comparative Analysis
- Are Case Studies Generalizable?
Part 2: "Doing" Qualitative Research in Human Geography
8. Kevin Dunn: Interviewing
- Interviewing in Geography
-- Types of Interviewing
-- Strengths of Interviewing
- Interview Design
-- The Interview Schedule or Guide
- Types of Questions
-- Ordering Questions and Topics
- Structured Interviewing
- Semi-Structured Interviewing
- Interviewing Practice
-- Contact
-- The Interview Relation
-- Closing the Interview
- Recording and Transcribing Interviews
-- Recording
-- Transcribing the Data
-- Assembling Field Note Files
- Analyzing Interview Data
- Presenting Interview Data
- Interviews Using Computer-Mediated Communication
-- Advantages of CMC Interviewing
-- Challenges of CMC Interviewing
-- Strategies for Good CMC Interviews
9. Karen George and Elaine Stratford: Oral History and Human Geography
- What is Oral History and Why Use It in Geographical Research?
- How is Oral History Different from Interviewing?
-- Starting Ethically
-- Getting to Know Your participant - The Preliminary Meeting
-- Sensitive Issues
-- Multiple Interviews
-- The Question of Questions
-- Interview Structure
-- Questioning the Source
-- Sound Quality, Interview Sites, and Other Technical Issues
- Why and How to Make Oral History Accessible
- Uses of Oral History - Spreading the Word
10. Jenny Cameron: Focusing on the Focus Group
- What are Focus Groups?
- Using Focus Groups in Geography
- Planning and Conducting Focus Groups
-- Selecting Participants
-- Composition of Focus Groups
-- Size and Number of Groups
-- Recruiting Participants
-- Questions and Topics
-- Conducting Focus Groups
-- Online Focus Groups
- Analyzing and Presenting Results
11. Michael Roche: Historical Research and Archival Sources
- What is Archival Research?
- Advice on Conducting Good Historical and Archival Research
- Challenges of Archival Research
- Ethics and Archives
- Presenting the Results of Archival Research
12. Pauline M. McGuirk and Phillip O'Neill: Using Questionnaires in Qualitative Human Geography
- Questionnaire Design and Format
- Sampling
- Pre-Testing
- Modes of Questionnaire Distribution
- Maximizing Questionnaire Response Rates
- Analyzing Questionnaire Data
13. Jim Craine and Colin Gardner: Visual Methodology NEW
- Visual Methods in Geography
- Psychoanalysis and Semiotics
- Discourse Analysis
- Exploring the Virtual
- Geovisualization as Method
14. Gordon Waitt: Doing Foucauldian Discourse Analysis - Revealing Social Identities
- Introducing Discourse Analysis
- Doing Foucauldian Discourse Analysis
-- Choice of Source Materials or Texts
-- Suspend Pre-Existing Categories: Become Reflexive
-- Familiarization: Absorbing Yourself In and Thinking Critically About the Social Context of Your Source Materials
-- Coding: Once for Organization and Again for Interpretation
-- Power, Knowledge, and Persuasion: Investigate your source materials for "Effects of Truth"
-- Resilience and Rupture: Take Note of Inconsistencies within Your Sources
-- Silences: Silence as Discourse and Discourses that Silence
-- Reflecting on Doing Foucauldian Discourse Analysis
15. Robin A. Kearns: Placing Observation in the Research Toolkit
- Purposes of Observation
- Types of Observation
- Participant Observation
- Power, Knowledge, and Observation
- Stages of Participant Observation
-- Choice of Setting
-- Access
-- Field Relations
-- Talking and Listening
-- Recording Data
-- Analysis and Presentation
-- Ethical Obligations
- Reflecting on the Method
16. Jamie Winders: New Media NEW
- What are New Media?
- Thinking Spatially About and With New Media
- What New Media Do
- Who Are We on New Media? Who Are We With?
- Putting It All Together
17. Sara Kindon: Empowering Approaches: Participatory Action Research
- What is Participatory Action Research?
- Conducting 'Good' Participatory Action Research
- The Value and Rewards of Participatory Action Research
- Challenges and Strategies
- Presenting Results
- Reflecting on Participatory Action Research
Part 3: "Interpreting and Communicating" Qualitative Research
18. Meghan Cope: Organizing and Analyzing Qualitative Data
- Making Sense of Data
- Making Meaning I: Memos
- Making Meaning II: Concept Mapping
- Making Meaning III: Coding
-1 Types of Codes and Coding
-- The Purposes of Coding
-- Getting Started with Coding
- Developing the Coding Structure
- Coding with Others
- Computer-Aided Qualitative Data Analysis Software
-- (CAQDAS) and QualGIS
- Being in the World, Coding the World
19. Juliana Mansvelt and Lawrence D. Berg: Writing Qualitative Geographies, Constructing Geographical Knowledges
- Styles of Presentation
-- Positivist and Neo-Positivist Approaches: Universal Objectivity
-- Post-Positivist Approaches: Situated Knowledges
- Balancing Description and Interpretation - Observation and Theory
-- The Role of 'Theory' and the Constitutive Practices
-- Issues of Validity and Authenticity
20. Eric Pawson and Dydia DeLyser: From Personal to Public: Communicating Qualitative Research for Public Consumption
- Understanding Audiences
- Organizing and Representing Qualitative Findings
- The Power of Qualitative Research
Appendix: Field Notes Example NEW

There are no Instructor/Student Resources available at this time.

Iain Hay, BSc (Hons) (Canterbury) 1982, MA (Massey) 1985, PhD (Washington) 1989, GradCertTertEd (Flinders) 1995, MEdMgmt (Flinders) 2004, LittD (Canterbury) 2009, is Matthew Flinders Distinguished Professor of Human Geography in the School of Environment at Flinders University, South Australia. His principal research interests revolve around geographies of domination and oppression. He is the author or editor of ten books including Geographies of the Super-Rich (Elgar 2013). He is currently Editor-in-Chief of Geographical Research and Vice-President of the International Geographical Union. He is a former President of the Institute of Australian Geographers. In 2006, Iain received the Prime Minister's Award for Australian University Teacher of the Year and in 2014 was admitted as a Fellow of the UK's Academy of Social Sciences.

The Research Process - Gary D. Bouma, Rod Ling and Lori Wilkinson
Social Research Methods - Alan Bryman and Edward Bell
Human Geography - William Norton and Michael Mercier
Making Sense in Geography and Environmental Sciences - Margot Northey, Dianne Draper and David B. Knight

Special Features

  • A balance of Canadian and international examples ensures this text is engaging and relevant to students.
  • Edited by an award-winning instructor with contributions by top scholars in the field, this volume is an authoritative guide for students.
  • Practical "how-to" approach focuses on the everyday applications of research in human geography, helping students grasp complex concepts and apply them to their own work.
  • Engages students in the practical applications of research methods through personal anecdotes that explore real-life situations.
  • Helpful pedagogy including boxes outlining key practices, tips, and important points about methodology, as well as figures, summaries, and more.
New to this Edition
  • New chapter on feminist and indigenous methodologies (Ch. 4) demonstrates the empowering and transformative potential of qualitative research.
  • New chapter on visual methodologies (Ch. 13) provides students with an overview of visual research methods and how they are used in human geography.
  • New chapter on conducting digital research (Ch. 16) provides practical, student-friendly examples of the most contemporary methodologies currently used in the field.
  • New material on interpreting qualitative data provides first-time researchers with the tools they need to read and interpret their data.
  • Short exercises added to the end of every chapter serve as teaching points to engage students and promote in-class discussion.
  • Practical appendix of example field notes will help students as they begin to conduct their own qualitative research.
  • Updated to include the most current information, giving students an accurate and relevant overview of contemporary qualitative research methods in human geography.