Qualitative research methodologies: Embracing methodological borrowing, shifting and importing

Lara Varpio*, Maria Athina Martimianakis, Maria Mylopoulos

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

46 Scopus citations


This chapter explores some of the qualitative methodological differences-that-make-a-difference. It identifies and describes three ways in which this flexibility is realized in health professions education (HPE) research: methodological borrowing, methodological shifting and methodological importing. The chapter also explores each of these flexibility techniques by analyzing its application to a specific qualitative methodology. It further examines methodological borrowing in relation to qualitative description. The chapter looks at methodological shifting as it relates to Grounded Theory (GT). It then studies methodological importing as it has influenced the use of discourse analysis. The chapter illustrates these flexibility approaches using comparative sets of published HPE research articles to demonstrate the differences-that-make-a-difference. In interdisciplinary fields such as HPE, scholars often import methodologies from other disciplines and fields. To illustrate both the challenges and the possibilities of methodological importing, the chapter examines Foucauldian discourse analysis (FDA).

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationResearching Medical Education
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9781118838983
ISBN (Print)9781118839201
StatePublished - 24 Jul 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Discourse analysis
  • Foucauldian discourse analysis
  • Grounded theory
  • Health professions education research
  • Methodological borrowing
  • Methodological importing
  • Methodological shifting
  • Qualitative description
  • Qualitative research methodologies


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