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Q methodology in applied linguistics: a systematic research synthesis

Morea, N. ORCID: and Ghanbar, H. (2024) Q methodology in applied linguistics: a systematic research synthesis. System, 120. 103194. ISSN 0346-251X

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.system.2023.103194


Q methodology (Q) is a mixed-methods research methodology used to systematically explore people's subjectivity. Despite an increasing number of theoretical and empirical studies in applied linguistics (AL) adopting this methodology, we found a lack of systematic research syntheses examining how Q has so far served the field, especially considering the complexity of Q in relation to instrument creation, data collection and data analysis. To address this gap, we conducted a database search to map the uses of Q in AL research, leading to the identification of 55 empirical studies. An analysis of the contextual, methodological and data-analytical characteristics of the selected studies showed that the Q-sort method is being increasingly used in AL as a tool to encourage participant reflexivity, particularly in the areas of teacher and learner cognition and emotions, and language-specific and multilingual motivation. However, the review also revealed current gaps in the applications of Q, and most notably a frequent lack of quality-assurance practices during the development of the Q-set and omissions of important data-analytical information in published research, reducing the transparency and replicability of findings generated from Q studies. We conclude with recommendations for future research using Q in AL.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > Institute of Education > Language and Literacy in Education
ID Code:114332


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