The Centre for Work, Organisation and Wellbeing (WOW) congratulatesAssociate Professor Keith Townsend, and co-author, Professor Mark Saunders (Surrey Business School, UK) who were awarded Best Paper in the Research Methodology track at the 2015 British Academy of Management (BAM) conference in September for their work – ‘An analysis of the number of interview participants in organization and workplace journal articles’.

Comments Keith of the inspiration behind the paper:

“It seemed that fewer qualitative [research] papers were getting published in industrial relations [IR] and human resources [HR]. We also noted that reviewers were expecting more detail in the write up of the research methodology [section] than had been the past so we set about investigating whether these were anecdotal stories….or whether there was any substance [to such claims].”

Analysing 244 articles from international 10 top-ranking organisation, human resources and management studies journals, the team assessed the frequency of reporting of interview numbers and how many were deemed to be enough. In doing so they found that:

“…yes, there was reduction [of qualitative papers]….in certain journals published between 2003-2013, and indeed the volume of reporting around research methodology had increased…over that time period. There’s an irony [however] in putting quantitative measures around qualitative researchers because the latter is about having rich quotes as data to illuminate and help understand phenomena rather than trying to measure it,” says Keith.

“The aim of the paper was to provide some support and direction for qualitative researchers to justify their studies as good quality, stand-alone studies when there’s increasing pressures to shift towards mixed methods or quantitative research”.

With generous feedback from the 2015 BAM conference participates, Keith and Mark anticipate publication of this journal article soon.