Re-Conceptualising Research: A Mindful Process for Qualitative Research in Information Systems

Re-Conceptualising Research: A Mindful Process for Qualitative Research in Information Systems

Kay Fielden (Unitec Institute of Technology, New Zealand)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0927-3.ch009
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Abstract

Mindfulness is a whole state of being that is not usually linked with academic research in information systems. However if we take Denzin and Lincoln’s (2000; 2003), first qualitative research phase, which is the consideration of the key role of the researcher in socially-situated research, it soon becomes evident that a mindful researcher (Fielden, 2005) is more likely to conduct quality research than one who is not. In this discussion paper the qualities of mindfulness (Fielden, 2005) are explored; Denzin and Lincoln’s (2003) 5-stage qualitative research process is then mapped onto these multiple characteristics of mindfulness; and also onto a timeline for a typical qualitative research process in information systems. The paper concludes with suggestions on how to include mindful practices in research methods and supervision training in information systems, which is a contribution to the literature in this area.
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Mindfulness

Mindfulness evokes the image of flexible and alert awareness (Weick & Sutcliff, 2006). Mindfulness is a counterfoil to mental rigidity. While concentration focuses attention, mindfulness determines on what the attention will be focused (Figure 1). Mindfulness also detects when attention strays (Kerr, 2008). Mindfulness is an act of neutral observation, where awareness of distractions occurs. This is followed by refocusing as distractions occur. Mindfulness usually requires immersion in the process at hand for a state of meta-awareness to emerge. Meta-awareness is being aware of what is happening as participation occurs (Fielden, 2005).

Figure 1.

Research phases (RP) and mindfulness (Note 1: Denzin and Lincoln’s (2000; 2003) Research Phases Note 2: Fielden’s (2005) mindful dimensions)

Mindful practices abound in most spiritual traditions (Lau, 2007), and for those people who regard the world as a rational, mechanistic domain, these traditions, and therefore the development of mindfulness largely go unattended. Spiritual practices, such as meditation, hone the mind to become aware of multiple ways of being, or as Reason (2002) suggests ‘knowing the unknown”.

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