Informing professional practice and research with qualitative research findings: a community-based participatory action research example

Thierry Robert Frederic Middleton, Robert J. Schinke, Cole E. Giffin, Diana Coholic, Kerry R. Mcgannon, Brennan Petersen

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


The total percentage of qualitative research published in major sport and exercise psychology journals (i.e., JSEP, TSP, JASP, PSE, IJSEP, SEPP) increased by almost five percent between 2010-2012 and 2015– 2017 (McGannon et al., 2021). Qualitative research offers researchers the opportunity to learn from athletes, coaches, and others involved in sport and exercise in their natural settings and interpret phenomena in terms of what they mean to people at an individual level (Denzin & Lincoln, 2011). However, the diverse ways in which qualitative research can be approached also presents difficulties for researchers and professionals alike to make sense of in relation to their own work. For instance, many researchers often cite the lack of statistical-probabilistic generalizability as a limitation of qualitative work (Smith, 2018). This presentation provides three contextualised examples from a community-based participatory action research (CBPAR; Schinke et al., 2013) project of how researchers and professionals can learn from and use published qualitative research to inform their work. The first example will show how the use of creative nonf iction, in the form of polyphonic (i.e., multi-voiced) vignettes, can engender a relational feeling between the reader and characters in the story helping readers connect their own situation/context to interpretations of the story (Middleton et al., 2021; Smith, 2018). The second example will show how the transparent depiction of the research process can offer insights into how culturally safe spaces that open space for inter-subjective understandings between cultural dissimilar individuals can be cultivated. Attention to the use of terminology used by those in positions of power in formal and informal communication and the notion of open dialogue as a component of safety will be discussed as examples of how sport and exercise psychology researchers and practitioners can actively develop culturally safe spaces (Morris & Van Raalte, 2016; Spaaij & Schulenkorf, 2014). The third example concludes the presentation and shows how attention to the epistemological (and ontological) underpinning of qualitative research can inform how authentic relationships can be developed with athletes. Conducted from a social constructionist epistemological position, the CBPAR project placed greater importance on viewing truth as the meaning each story held for the storyteller and community, rather than seeking an ‘objective’ truth. Embracing the knowledge and expertise of athletes with humility, courage, and openness offers the opportunity to expand the horizons of our knowledge and develop genuine trusting relationships in which athletes feel empowered to control their development.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 3 Oct 2021
Event15th International Society for Sport Psychology World Congress - Taipei, Taiwan, Province of China
Duration: 30 Sept 20214 Oct 2021


Conference15th International Society for Sport Psychology World Congress
Country/TerritoryTaiwan, Province of China


  • authentic relationships
  • creative non-fiction
  • cultural safety
  • knowledge translation
  • philosophical considerations


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