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Heuristic Inquiry

Heuristic Inquiry
Researching Human Experience Holistically

August 2018 | 320 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

Focused on exploring human experience from an integrative perspective, Heuristic Inquiry: Researching Human Experience Holistically presents heuristic inquiry as a unique phenomenologically aligned, experiential, and relational approach to qualitative research that is also rigorous and evidence based. The author describes a distinguishing perspective of this research that treats participants not as subjects of research but rather as co-researchers in an exploratory process marked by genuineness and intersubjectivity. Through the use of real-life examples illustrating the various processes of heuristic research, the book offers an understanding of heuristic inquiry that is straightforward and informal yet honors its creative, intuitive, and polydimensional nature.

“A must-read for anyone interested in qualitative research.” 

Graham Bright, York St John University, UK

“This text provides a valuable service to novice and experienced researchers through its straightforward, yet complex and nuanced approach to heuristic inquiry.”

–Joseph McNabb, Northeastern University


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About the Author
Chapter 1: What Is Heuristic Inquiry, Anyway?
A Brief Recent History  
The Purpose of Heuristic Inquiry  
Essential Feature  
• Exercise 1.1. Sensing Into and Expressing a Rough Understanding of Heuristic Inquiry  
Processes and Phases  
Limitations of Heuristic Inquiry  
Closing Reflections  
Chapter 2: Locating Heuristic Inquiry Within Contemporary Qualitative Research
Relationship to Phenomenology  
Bricolaging with Similar Qualitative Approaches  
Grounded Theory  
Essential and Distinguishing Features  
Bricolaging Grounded Theory With Heuristic Inquiry  
Narrative Research  
Essential and Distinguishing Features  
Bricolaging Narrative Research With Heuristic Inquiry  
Feminist Research  
Essential and Distinguishing Features  
Bricolaging Feminist Research With Heuristic Inquiry  
Closing Reflections  
• Exercise 2.1. Exploring the Labyrinth  
Chapter 3: Philosophical and Theoretical Foundations of Heuristic Inquiry
Why Do We Learn About Theory?  
Heuristic Inquiry as an Empirical Process  
• Exercise 3.1. Exploring the Subjectivity8Objectivity Continuum  
Heuristic Inquiry as Qualitative Research  
Heuristic Inquiry as Social Constructivism  
Ontological Assumptions  
Epistemological Assumptions  
Axiological Assumptions  
Methodological Assumptions  
Rhetorical Assumptions  
Heuristic Inquiry as “Phenomenologically Aligned”  
Philosophers Whose Work Inspired Heuristic Inquiry  
Edmund Husserl  
Martin Buber  
Carl Rogers  
Abraham Maslow  
Michael Polanyi  
Eugene Gendlin  
Maurice Merleau-Ponty  
Closing Reflections  
• Exercise 3.2. Exploring Other Ways of Being and of Knowing  
Chapter 4: Heuristic Processes and Phases
The Seven Processes of Heuristic Inquiry  
Identifying With the Focus of Inquiry  
• Exercise 4.1. An Empty Chair Experiment to Facilitate Identifying With the Focus of Inquiry  
Tacit Knowing  
The Internal Frame of Reference  
• Exercise 4.2. Six-Step Focusing Exercise to Clear an Inner Space  
The Six Phases of Heuristic Inquiry  
Initial Engagement  
Creative Synthesis  
The Heuristic Phases in Action  
Maintaining a Heuristic Attitude During the Research Journey  
• Exercise 4.3. Needs Self-Assessment Exercise  
Closing Reflections  
Chapter 5: Heuristic Research Design
Becoming Aware of a Topic and Formulating the Research Question(s)  
Conducting the Literature Review  
Timing Your Literature Review  
Reviewing the Literature  
Preparing for the Study  
Writing a Heuristic-Friendly IRB Proposal  
Creating a Set of Guidelines for the Study  
Creating Generic Content and Forms  
Selecting, Inviting, and Securing Co-Researchers  
General Sampling Considerations  
Sample Size  
Building Rapport and Trust  
Closing Reflections  
Chapter 6: Heuristic Data Collection, Organization, and Analysis
Data Collection  
Preparing for the Interviews  
Embodied Relational Interviewing  
Disruptions in Flow  
Time and Structure Considerations  
Where and How  
Researcher and Co-Researcher Artifacts  
Researcher Journals  
Winding Down Data Collection  
Data Organization and Management  
Creating Verbatim Transcripts  
Data Analysis: Theme Illumination and Identification  
Following Clear Procedures  
Honoring Content and Context  
Deciphering Potential Themes  
Organizing Themes According to Research Questions  
Maintaining Discipline  
Data Analysis: Theme Explication  
Individual Depictions  
Composite Depictions  
Exemplary Portraits  
Creative Synthesis  
Closing Reflections  
Chapter 7: Relationality, Reflexivity, and Meaning-Making
Shared Experiential Learning  
Connecting, Disconnecting, and Reconnecting  
Empathy, Resonance, and Intersubjectivity  
Honoring Difference and Conflict  
Negotiating Power and Privilege  
Advancing Empowerment, Agency, and Social Justice  
Approaching Reflexivity Holistically  
Evaluating Values, Beliefs, Biases, and Attitudes  
• Exercise 7.1. Exploring Our Own and Others’ Values  
Locating Oneself Within the Research Process  
Demystifying the Role of the Researcher  
Using the Journal as a Reflexive Tool  
• Exercise 7.2. Exploring a Personal Dilemma Using the Reflexive Journal  
Closing Reflections  
Chapter 8: Evaluating the Research: A Collaborative Process
A Primer on Heuristic Evaluation  
Defining Rigor and Trustworthiness/Goodness  
Evaluation Criteria  
Evaluation Strategies  
Evaluating the Integrity of Your Heuristic Study  
Heuristic Evaluation as a Shared Experience  
The Importance of Reflexive Leadership in Evaluation  
Closing Reflections  
Chapter 9: Writing a Living Manuscript: An Embodied Relational Approach
Components of a Heuristic Manuscript  
Introduction and Clear Articulation of Topic and Research Questions  
Theoretical Framework  
Rationale for the Study  
Comprehensive but Concise Literature Review  
Materials and Procedure  
Data Collection and Analysis  
Conclusions and Future Directions  
Embodied Relational Writing: Balancing Rigor With Intriguing Writing Style  
• Exercise 9.1. Experimenting With Embodied Relational Writing  
Promoting Social Justice, Action, and Transformation  
Writing a Publishable Heuristic Manuscript  
Closing Reflections  
Chapter 10: Ethics of Heuristic Research
Understanding Ethics  
Core Ethical Principles and Codes  
Facets of a Heuristic Study That May Prompt Ethical Concerns  
Informed Consent  
Research Methodology and Design  
Relational Boundaries With Co-Researchers  
Researcher Competence  
Addressing Emergent Ethical Dilemmas  
Consulting Discipline-Related Ethical Codes  
Using an Ethical Decision-Making Model  
Engaging Researcher Reflexivity  
• Exercise 10.1. Exploring and Addressing Emergent Ethical Dilemmas in Heuristic Research  
The Perils of Researching Sensitive Topics: Maintaining Researcher Well-Being  
Closing Reflections  
Chapter 11: Universal Applications of Heuristic Inquiry: Bridging Research and Living Experience
Using Heuristic Inquiry Formally in Various Disciplines  
Political Science and Government  
Health Care  
Conflict Transformation  
Counseling and Psychotherapy  
Engaging Heuristic Inquiry Informally  
Closing Reflections  
Chapter 12: An Ending8Beginning
Appendix A: Sample Cover/Invitation Letter  
Appendix B: Sample Demographic Information Form  
Appendix C: Sample Informed Consent Form  
Appendix D: Sample Instructions for Interview Meeting  
Appendix E: Sample Semi-Structured Interview Protocol  
Appendix F: Sample Semi-Structured Interview Protocol With Examples  
Appendix G: Preparing for and Recording Interviews (Sample)  
Appendix H: Open-Ended Relational Probing and Prompting  

Heuristic Inquiry presents a valuable introduction to heuristic inquiry that is at the same time sophisticated and accessible. This is a valuable resource for those seeking to explore lived experience in a rigorous and reflexive way. It addresses a significant gap by presenting a refreshing, easy to follow introduction to this methodological approach, without compromising in rigor and sophistication.”

Gerardo Blanco Ramirez
University of Massachusetts, Boston

“This text creatively integrates research methods, therapeutic processes and the arts all in an insightful exploration of the human condition. It invites readers to reflect, meditate and think deeply about how to internalize the heuristic research process in order to uncover the truth of people's living experiences. Consequently, heuristic research opens our minds to new realms and possibilities for human inquiry.”

Claire Michele Rice
Nova Southeastern University

“This text provides a valuable service to novice and experienced researchers through its straightforward, yet complex and nuanced approach to heuristic inquiry.”

Joseph McNabb
Northeastern University

“This book offers a comprehensive overview of heuristic inquiry and provides an engaging, focused discussion of the methodological issues involved throughout all phases of the research process. Sultan provides an accessible and comprehensive guide for those designing and conducting heuristic inquiries.”

Angela Eckhoff
Old Dominion University

“Nevine Sultan has produced a work of remarkable depth, richness and vitality. Drawing on her own research, Sultan speaks with authenticity, clarity and rigor regarding the challenges and rewards of getting to grips with phenomena through co-creative processes. This text fills the long methodological void that has haunted the field since Moustakas’ Heuristic Research. A must-read for anyone interested in qualitative research.” 

Graham Bright
York St John University, UK

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ISBN: 9781506355481