A Group for Qualitative Researchers

December 2017


Almost 15 years ago the need to bring together qualitative health researchers and create a supportive community for them to thrive in became apparent. It was with this goal in mind that a group of qualitative researchers, led by Dr. Mary Ellen Macdonald, created the McGill Qualitative Health Research Group (MQHRG).

“The need we were originally responding to was the need for a safe space to talk about a kind of research that was quite different from conventional biomedical science,” says Professor Mary Ellen Macdonald. “Qualitative health research provides unique ways to see and understand health. We needed a forum – almost a ‘support group’ at first – to really explore and advance this agenda.”

Since its inception in 2003 the group has attracted almost 250 members from across Canada and beyond, creating a virtual hub of qualitative researchers. The group consists of researchers, post-docs and graduate students from numerous Faculties and schools throughout the world, all conducting qualitative research studies. They also maintain numerous national and international affiliations with researchers from across the globe.

Basem Danish, a PhD student in the Faculty of Dentistry, has been a member of the group since joining the Faculty. He considers himself lucky to be part of such a group. “It’s rare to find such a group model,” he says. “Although the merits of qualitative research are being increasingly recognized in medical and dental research today, novice researchers struggle to find resources that can provide them with professional, rigorous training in conducting such research. The multidisciplinary nature of this group makes it an amazing platform for researchers to bring along their experiences from faculties that have long traditions of using qualitative research (e.g., nursing or anthropology).”

The goal of MQHRG is to provide a friendly, yet rigorous, interdisciplinary and interprofessional learning environment. To support this here at McGill University, the group meets a few times each semester in the Faculty of Dentistry to focus on qualitative methodology workshops and student presentations. “I got the opportunity to present my project and get very fruitful feedback,” says Ninoska Enriquez, PhD student and President of the MDGSS. “The opportunity to exchange and learn from qualitative experts from different faculties and universities has added to my research immensely.” Over the years MQHRG has partnered with a number of research-intensive organizations to offer training workshops and conferences and, for those who require a little more, they also enable the development of special interest groups to delve deeper into specific methodologies.

MQHRG maintains a Twitter account where they post job opportunities, announce new research papers and make conference announcements. For those interested in learning more about using qualitative methodologies for health research or to join the listserv please contact Crystal Noronha.

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