Yin (1981) makes an interesting point regarding some of the objections participants of case studies have regarding the interpretation of their data. Miles states that participants objected more often to research findings after seeing qualitative data, like case studies, on the basis that they disagreed with the researchers’ interpretations (Miles, 1979, cited in Yin, 1981, p.58). Ultimately, the researcher is in a position of total power as they have the final say in terms of interpretation when writing the final report. Miles, as Jessica points out, circumscribes qualitative researchers in saying that they will never be able to fully “transcend storytelling” (cited in Yin, 1981, p. 58). Yin (1981) counters Mile’s argument by describing a number of situations when participants might object to interpretations of researchers using quantitative methods like survey research (p.64).
Yin (1981) argues that participants feel more comfortable with being talked about in aggregate data, regardless of the research method being used (p.64). I wonder how this tension plays out in open data initiatives? Very often, social science researchers are reluctant to turn over their qualitative data to institutional repositories (Kuula, 2010). It could be that they are predominantly concerned with confidentiality. I wonder how much of the reluctance also has to do with worries that data might be subject to reinterpretation? Putting that data out there puts the researcher in the position of no longer fully controlling their narrative.
Kuula, A. (2010). Methodological and ethical dilemmas of archiving qualitative data. IASSIST Quarterly, 34(3), 12-17
Yin, R.K. (1981). The case study crisis: Some answers. Administrative Science Quarterly, 26(1), 58-65.