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What is positionality and should it be expressed in quantitative studies?
  1. Anisa J N Jafar
  1. Correspondence to Dr Anisa J N Jafar, Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PL, UK; anisa.jafar{at}


Although we are increasingly reaping the benefits of qualitative studies, their approach and that of quantitative studies remain rather separate. Emergency medicine practitioners thrive off research in context as we deal with such an undifferentiated population however quantitative ‘hard-science’ work is conspicuous for its absence of positionality. This contrasts strongly with the way in which qualitative research, within the domain of so-called soft-science literature, uses positionality as an integral element of the research process. Without contextualising the researcher and research environment in qualitative studies, often the meaning of any research output is lost. What follows is that positionality does not undermine the truth of such research, instead it defines the boundaries within which the research was produced. ​ The absence of positionality when considered alongside the notion of bias, may challenge the quantitative idea of validity.

  • qualitative research
  • research, methods
  • research, clinical

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  • Funding This researcher is currently funded by the Royal College of Emergency Medicine and the Hong Kong Academy of Medicine.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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