Serendipity & the Road to
Theory in Qualitative Research
Jean-Paul C. Grund, PhD
CVO – Addiction Research Centre, Utrecht,...
Definitions of Serendipity
Serendipity is...
...the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable
or agreeable things not soug...
Word History of Serendipity
„...serendipity, a very expressive word, which as I
have nothing better to tell you, I shall e...
Definition Revisited
Serendipity (noun): That quality which, through
good fortune and sagacity*, allows a person to
discov...
Definition Revisited
* Sagacity (noun): personal alertness, awareness,
and understanding;
Sagacious (adjective): having or...
Short name of the whole PPT presentation max. lenght to 1/2 of the page
From Folktale to Scientific Method
7
Famous Examples of Serendipity
Archymedes´ Principle
Columbus´ Discovery of America
Newton´s Discovery of Gravity
Fleming´...
Serendipity in the Qualitative Process:
Acknowledgement
Serendipitous findings are often not in accord with current
belief...
Serendipity in the Qualitative Process (1)
Serendipity is not merely an unusual happening,
but the scientist is "prepared"...
Serendipity in the Qualitative Process (2)
Serendipity as Controlled Chaos:
"Naturalists in the social sciences are engage...
Serendipity in the Qualitative Process (3)
Focussing on the Opportunities
that Chance Provides.
Conceptualizing Serendipit...
Serendipity in the Qualitative Process (4)
Temporal Serendipity
The power of "being in the
right place at the right
time."...
Serendipity in the Qualitative Process (5)
Serendipity is not only
observing memorable
events, but recognizing these
as si...
Serendipity in the Qualitative Process (6)
Serendipity Relations
Ethnography is pre-eminently a methodology that
depends o...
Serendipity in the Qualitative Process (7)
Analytical Serendipity
The ability to establish connections between data
and th...
Serendipity in the Qualitative Process (8)
Keeping one's wits
Part of serendipity derives from those unplanned
happenings ...
Short name of the whole PPT presentation max. lenght to 1/2 of the page
The road to Serendip is not an easy path
Bahramdip...
Ethnographic findings are not random.
The chance component of research is central to the
collection and interpretation of ...
http://www.forbes.com/sites/kare
anderson/2012/09/30/how-to-
succeed-since-success-is-
random-and-savor-life-with-
others/...
Thank you for
your attention
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission.
This presentation ref...
Contact
Jean-Paul Grund, PhD
CVO – Addiction Research
Centre, Utrecht, NL
&
Department of Addictology,
1st Faculty of Medi...
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Serendipity & the road to theory (update 07/2014)

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Making happy and unexpected discoveries by accident?

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Serendipity & the road to theory (update 07/2014)

  1. 1. Serendipity & the Road to Theory in Qualitative Research Jean-Paul C. Grund, PhD CVO – Addiction Research Centre, Utrecht, NL & Department of Addictology, 1st Faculty of Medicine, Charles University in Prague & General University Hospital in Prague, CZ 22 | 07 | 2014
  2. 2. Definitions of Serendipity Serendipity is... ...the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for. (Merriam Webster) ...the faculty of making happy and unexpected discoveries by accident. (Oxford English Dictionary) Grund – Serendipity in qualitative research process
  3. 3. Word History of Serendipity „...serendipity, a very expressive word, which as I have nothing better to tell you, I shall endeavour to explain to you: you will understand it better by the derivation than by the definition. I once read a silly fairy tale called ‘The Three Princes of Serendip.’ As their highnesses travelled, they were always making discoveries, by accident and sagacity, of things which they were not in quest of. For instance, one of them discovered that a mule blind of the right eye had travelled the same road lately, because the grass was eaten only on the left side, where it was worse than on the right – now do you understand serendipity?“ Horace Walpole January 28, 1754 Grund – Serendipity in qualitative research process
  4. 4. Definition Revisited Serendipity (noun): That quality which, through good fortune and sagacity*, allows a person to discover something good while seeking something else. Grund – Serendipity in qualitative research process
  5. 5. Definition Revisited * Sagacity (noun): personal alertness, awareness, and understanding; Sagacious (adjective): having or showing understanding and the ability to make good judgments; wise Grund – Serendipity in qualitative research process
  6. 6. Short name of the whole PPT presentation max. lenght to 1/2 of the page From Folktale to Scientific Method 7
  7. 7. Famous Examples of Serendipity Archymedes´ Principle Columbus´ Discovery of America Newton´s Discovery of Gravity Fleming´s Discovery of Pennicilin Galvani´s Discovery of “Animal Electricity” Bequerel´s Discovery of Radioactivity Alfred Nobel´s Discovery of Dynamite Albert Hoffman´s Discovery of LSD Grund – Serendipity in qualitative research process
  8. 8. Serendipity in the Qualitative Process: Acknowledgement Serendipitous findings are often not in accord with current beliefs. It is not the divine roll of the dice that determines serendipity. Three Principles Of Serendip: Insight, Chance, And Discovery In Qualitative Research, by Gary Fein and James Deegan. Qualitative Studies in Education, Volume 9, Number 4, 1996. (http://www.ul.ie/~philos/vol2/deegan.html). XXX Merton Grund – Serendipity in qualitative research process
  9. 9. Serendipity in the Qualitative Process (1) Serendipity is not merely an unusual happening, but the scientist is "prepared" to make sense of a truer picture of the world, creating a more precise model. ●"Chance favors only those who know how to court her." (Charles Nicolle); ●In the field of observation, chance favors only the prepared mind." (Louis Pasteur). Serendipity is the interactive outcome of unique and contingent "mixes" of insight (Sagacity) coupled with chance (Accident). Grund – Serendipity in qualitative research process
  10. 10. Serendipity in the Qualitative Process (2) Serendipity as Controlled Chaos: "Naturalists in the social sciences are engaged in a strategy of calculated chaos. They intentionally immerse themselves in the logging of data regarding subjects that are of personal concern to them, a process that initially need have little or no specific social scientific orientation. The theory of the naturalist is that a direction will emerge, will be "discovered." (Lofland & Lofland) But, insight is not a treasure at the end of the road for the Princes of Serendip; it is one that unfolds with every twist and turn in the road. Grund – Serendipity in qualitative research process
  11. 11. Serendipity in the Qualitative Process (3) Focussing on the Opportunities that Chance Provides. Conceptualizing Serendipity: Three Distinct Components of Research: Temporal Serendipity Serendipity Relations Analytic Serendipity Each depends on the readiness to seize upon chance events; that is, the unstructured, inductive quality of fieldwork often provides leeway to incorporate the power of serendipitous findings into the core of a research report. Grund – Serendipity in qualitative research process
  12. 12. Serendipity in the Qualitative Process (4) Temporal Serendipity The power of "being in the right place at the right time." The observer cannot choose in advance to witness an event; his or her presence is, in part, a function of the decision of the observer to judge "where the action is." Grund – Serendipity in qualitative research process
  13. 13. Serendipity in the Qualitative Process (5) Serendipity is not only observing memorable events, but recognizing these as significant when they occur and turning them into powerful narratives. The ability to see a pattern or implication that has gone unnoticed and, having exposed it, to find it in other social settings. Grund – Serendipity in qualitative research process
  14. 14. Serendipity in the Qualitative Process (6) Serendipity Relations Ethnography is pre-eminently a methodology that depends on relationships. It is not sufficient that one makes contact (good fortune), but one must also be able to capitalize on this contact (sagacity). Key Informants & Community Fieldworkers: Development of relations based on happenstance, luck, or mistaken identity. Grund – Serendipity in qualitative research process
  15. 15. Serendipity in the Qualitative Process (7) Analytical Serendipity The ability to establish connections between data and theory. By what processes does this analytical insight occur? ● exposure to the relevant literature and being part of a scholarly world. ● the data themselves speak to the researcher and may provoke an "Ah-ha!" response. ● Discovery of a dramatic metaphor or narrative strategy that permits conceptualization and presentation of the problem in a novel light. Grund – Serendipity in qualitative research process
  16. 16. Serendipity in the Qualitative Process (8) Keeping one's wits Part of serendipity derives from those unplanned happenings that stem from one's own hands. The powerful role of mistakes leading to insight. Mistakes may be treated not only as unavoidable errors, but as events that uncover the preconceptions and choices of the researcher. Learning how to learn from mistakes is critical for using serendipity in qualitative research. Grund – Serendipity in qualitative research process
  17. 17. Short name of the whole PPT presentation max. lenght to 1/2 of the page The road to Serendip is not an easy path Bahramdipity: the suppression of a discovery, sometimes a serendipitous discovery, by the often-egomaniacal act of a more powerful individual who does cruelly punish, not merely disdain, a person (or persons) of lesser power and little renown who demonstrates sagacity, perspicacity, and truthfulness (From Bahram of Persia, as characterized in the fairy tale The Three Princes of Serendip.) Toby J. Sommer 'Bahramdipity' and Scientific Research The Scientist 13[3]:13, Feb. 01, 1999 18
  18. 18. Ethnographic findings are not random. The chance component of research is central to the collection and interpretation of data. Serendipity involves planned insight coupled with unplanned events, core to the philosophy of qualitative research. A researcher must be prepared to seize the clues on the road to discovery. CONCLUSIONS Grund – Serendipity in qualitative research process
  19. 19. http://www.forbes.com/sites/kare anderson/2012/09/30/how-to- succeed-since-success-is- random-and-savor-life-with- others/ Enjoy! Post lecture reading suggestion Grund – Serendipity in qualitative research process
  20. 20. Thank you for your attention This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This presentation reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
  21. 21. Contact Jean-Paul Grund, PhD CVO – Addiction Research Centre, Utrecht, NL & Department of Addictology, 1st Faculty of Medicine, Charles University in Prague & General University Hospital in Prague, CZ E: jpgrund@drugresearch.nl W3: www.drugresearch.nl
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