Using secondary analysis to maintain a critically reflexive approach to qualitative research



Wilson S (2014) Using secondary analysis to maintain a critically reflexive approach to qualitative research. Sociological Research Online, 19 (3), Art. No.: 21.;

Maintaining a ‘critical reflexivity' (Heaphy 2008) or ‘investigative epistemology' (Mason 2007) in relation to the sedimented assumptions built up over the course of one's own research history and embedded in common research boundaries, is difficult. The type of secondary analysis discussed in this paper is not an easy or quick ‘fix' to the important issue of how such assumptions can embed themselves over time in methods chosen and questions asked. Even though archived studies are often accompanied by relatively detailed metadata, finding relevant data and getting a grasp on a sample, is time-consuming. However, it is argued that close examination of rawer data than those presented in research reports from carefully chosen studies combining similar foci and epistemological approaches but with differently situated samples, can help. Here, this process highlighted assumptions underlying the habitual disciplinary locations and constructions of so-called ‘vulnerable' as opposed to ‘ordinary' samples, leading the author to scrutinise aspects of her previous research work in this light and providing important insights for the development of further projects.

Qualitative secondary analysis (QSA), reflexive sociology, sedimented assumptions, research boundaries, sample characterisation, space, objects

Sociological Research Online: Volume 19, Issue 3

FundersEconomic and Social Research Council
Publication date15/08/2014
Publication date online15/08/2014
Date accepted by journal02/06/2014
Publisher URL

People (1)


Dr Sarah Wilson

Dr Sarah Wilson

Senior Lecturer, Sociology, Social Policy & Criminology

Projects (1)