You are here

Doing Q Methodological Research

Doing Q Methodological Research
Theory, Method & Interpretation

March 2012 | 248 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
This book introduces the theory and practice of Q methodology. The authors explain the origins of Q methodology in factor analysis and the R methodological procedures, and go on to explain the theory behind Q as set out by the method's early pioneers. They also look at how Q deals with issues such as subjectivity, abduction and constructivism. The book shows readers how to set up, run, and analyze an effective study using Q methodology. Illustrated with examples and case studies throughout, the book offers advice on highly practical issues such as the conduct of fieldwork, working with participants, and good data management.
Introducing Q Methodology: The Inverted-Factor Technique
Theory and Q Methodology: From Stephenson to Constructionism
Basic Design Issues: Research Questions and Q Sets
Doing the Fieldwork: Participants, Materials and Procedure
Understanding the Analytic Process (1): Factor Extraction
Understanding the Analytic Process (2): Factor Rotation and the Preparation of Factor Arrays
Factor Interpretation
Writing and Publishing Q Methodological Papers
General Instructions for Completing a Q Methodological Study

Conducting an Analysis Using PQ Method: A Step-by-step Guide (plus an explanation of the PQ Method output or .lis file

First Draft Crib Sheets (for study factors 2, 3, 4 and 5)


This is an excellent book for anyone considering Q-sort. It includes a step by step guide to the analysis and the use of software to make sense of sorts

Dr Garry Squires
School of Education, Manchester University
November 20, 2013

Good resource

Mrs Emma Barton
Department of Applied Psychology, University of Cumbria
November 11, 2013

An easy to read and use treatise on Q methodology.

Dr Susan Ramlo
Ed Foundations Leadership Dept, University of Akron
July 2, 2013

I think this book has been prepared with respect to scientific research methodology. Thus I recommend to many of my master and ph d students. Thank you for your interest.

Educational Admin , Kahramanmaras Sütçü Imam University
May 16, 2013

Helpful, well organised contents supports post graduate students in their knowledge and understanding of methodologies and different methods used for researching in the classroom.

Dr Judy Sayers
School of Education, Northampton University
May 16, 2013

An excellent comprehensive text on this research method

Dr Janet Holt
School of Healthcare, Leeds University
May 8, 2013

This will offer those students interested in this type of research to further their understanding of this approach.

Dr Denis Feather
Huddersfield University Business Schl, Huddersfield University
February 20, 2013

This book is a wonderful and refreshing attempt to introduce people to the theory and practicalities of doing Q methodology. The authors cleverly and simply start by providing a background to Q, and explain the history behind factor analysis. The chapter resonate trust in the authors knowledge about Q, thus trusting the reader to understand each of the concepts discussed or to further research any other areas that have not been covered within the book.

The book signposts readers to other resources and is truly a converting tool for those who were sceptical of using Q as a reliable methodology. There is a link to a free software package that can be used to input Q-sort data and analyse it and another link to the ‘bible’ of Q methodologists – Brown (1980) online PDF article (I’ve downloaded it myself).

The book takes us into the ins and outs of Q methodology and design, including the various pros and cons of sampling methods, research questions, and items development/selection. The valuable appendices are very handy, including a sample participant instructions sheet and a brief guide to use one of the most common free software Q packages. I just felt a bit underwhelmed with the suggestions to the Q packages available, and maybe even with the lack of mentioning the QCom software (Gwilliam, 1995), which is compatible with SPSS without much fussing around. Overall, this book is compiled in such a simple way that it becomes more like a manual and a guide, for people who want a stepwise approach to conducting a Q study.

I have used the book myself in a recent study and to train others in conducting Q studies. I truly recommend it to anyone either thinking of running a Q study or just trying to learn more about this method, at both undergraduate or postgraduate levels. It is definitely a great value as a teaching tool, which can help format lectures and workshops on Q method. Fortunately Q methodology is one of these versatile methods that can be used in research, education and clinical areas. Due to their collaborative nature Q sorts can be used with children, adolescents, patients with disabilities, and the general population. Q can use images, text, sounds, tastes, or anything else that researchers can think off. The sky, and creativity, is the limit and this book is the map.

Finally, the book provides valuable advice on preparing a Q manuscript for publication, and in the skills behind selecting the most suitable journal for a peer reviewed publication with most impact and reading audience.

Dr Miguel Montenegro
Division of Clinical Psychology, Liverpool University
February 9, 2013

An additional text used to look at some of the various methodologies within health care research

Mrs Carol Ellis
Health , Anglia Ruskin University
October 31, 2012

This book is very good for full-time course to teach only this methodology. I was looking for new method for qualitative data analysis. But I recommend to use it on qualitative research methods course.

Joanna Gajda
Institute of Political Studies and International Relations, Jagiellonian University in Kraków
October 2, 2012

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter One

Simon Watts

Simon Watts is PGR Training Coordinator and Deputy Head of the Graduate School in the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of East Anglia, UK. He is responsible for organizing all the research, professional development, and advanced training programs for PGR students within the faculty and teaches extensively on these programs. He primarily publishes instructional papers in the area of research methodology/skills, is particularly well known for his work with Q methodology, and is lead author of the Sage publication ‘Doing Q methodological research: Theory, method, and interpretation’ (co-authored with Professor Paul Stenner at the... More About Author

Paul Stenner

Paul Stenner is Professor of Social Psychology at The Open University, UK. He completed his PhD at the University of Reading, UK, and has held posts at the University of Brighton, University College London, University of Bath, and the University of East London. He works with process approaches to psychosocial issues. He has published work in numerous fields including the emotions, human rights, quality of life, and active ageing. With Simon Watts, he is the author of Doing Q Methodological Research: Theory, Method and Interpretation (SAGE, 2012). He has published 25 peer-reviewed articles using, or about, Q methodology and numerous book... More About Author

Purchasing options

Please select a format:

ISBN: 9781849204156

SAGE Research Methods is a research methods tool created to help researchers, faculty and students with their research projects. SAGE Research Methods links over 175,000 pages of SAGE’s renowned book, journal and reference content with truly advanced search and discovery tools. Researchers can explore methods concepts to help them design research projects, understand particular methods or identify a new method, conduct their research, and write up their findings. Since SAGE Research Methods focuses on methodology rather than disciplines, it can be used across the social sciences, health sciences, and more.