Reflections on humanising the research process

Authors: Norton, E., Hemingway, A. and Ellis-Hill, C.

Conference: Humanising Care, Health and Wellbeing

Dates: 13-14 June 2019


In this paper we contemplate how humanising concepts related to caring can be applied by researchers to their practice of inquiry. As we do this we reflect on research issues and learning related to an externally funded evaluation project involving beneficiaries’ experiences of the arts. In particular we apply humanising concepts from the framework of Galvin and Todres (2013) such as the dimension of insiderness. In the words of Todres et al (2014) we found ourselves “reaching towards” the participants’ insiderness to gain their perspectives and views. On reflection ‘not knowing’ about the beneficiaries or the art activities in the first instance led to a humanised research process as we sensitively explored peoples’ thoughts about the evaluation whilst being mindful of their potential vulnerabilities and differing abilities. The key researcher spent extensive time within the groups and activities gaining her own embodied relational understandings which contributed to reducing self-other and developed further sensitivity in the knowing. On reflection, we were using the kind of knowing that Galvin and Todres (2013) say is needed for the practice of humanised care. This type of knowing is integrative and holistic in contrast to that of differentiation and compartmentalization; it celebrates ‘unspecialisation’ as it integrates knowledge, ethics and action and in our experience melds knowledge from the head, hand and heart in relation to a ‘humanised’ research approach. Furthermore, as we will explain it is a form of knowing that has long been recognised in the arts.

References: Todres, L., Galvin K. and Dahlberg, K., 2014. Caring for insiderness: Phenomenologically informed insights that can guide practice.

International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-being 9: doi: 10.3402/qhw.v9.21421.

Galvin, K. and Todres, T., 2013. Caring and well-being. A lifeworld approach. London: Routledge.

Source: Manual