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Exploring the Essence of Qualitative Research | Highlights from the 8th World Conference on Qualitative Research in Johannesburg

Early last week, we had the privilege of attending the 8th World Conference on Qualitative Research (WCQR), Johannesburg, where academics (scholars), from local and international regions, congregated to present and discuss their research experiences and findings, with the support of Gauteng Provincial Government, co-sponsorship of The DaVinci Institute, in collaboration with Sci-Bono Discovery Centre, and various other equally important institutions that actively participated. 

As an aside, it is worth mentioning that the WCQR is an annual event (conference) that aims to bring together researchers, academics and professionals, promoting the sharing and discussion of knowledge, new perspectives, experiences and innovations on the field of Qualitative Research. 

Setting the scene, introductory notes were made by Professor King Costa, the chairman of the Local Organising Committee (LOC) of WCQR. The Gauteng Premier, Mr. Panyaza Lesufi, graced the stage with his welcome address before the commencement of the conference on 23 January 2024. 

What was evidently the main point of discussion centred around the nature of qualitative research, its essence, and methodology. Participants engaged in a lively exchange of ideas, each offering unique perspectives on how qualitative research could be defined and conducted. The conversation delved into the fundamental characteristics that distinguish qualitative research from quantitative approaches. 

Our academic team representing DaVinci included Professor Paul Singh (Head of Postgraduate Studies), Dr Raymond Toga (Learning Coordinator: Doctoral Programmes), and Professor HB Klopper (Executive Dean: Research). All three were engaged participants in insightful discussions and presentations. 

From a witness standpoint, emphasised was the importance of subjectivity and the researcher's role in the qualitative research process; it was further argued that qualitative research is inherently interpretive and subjective, requiring researchers to immerse themselves in the context and meaning of the data. One of the participants during the conference brought attention to the flexibility and adaptability of qualitative methods, emphasising the need to be responsive to emergent themes and unexpected insights during the research journey. 

As the discussion evolved, there was a thoughtful and contemplative consensus that qualitative research goes beyond mere data collection and analysis. It involves a deep exploration of the social, cultural, and contextual factors, meaning that this approach allows for a richer comprehension of the underlying meanings and complexities inherent in the studied phenomena. 

How remarkably insightful it was that all speakers expressed passion in their individual fields of study and the enthusiasm to share their individual journeys. This was especially evident during coffee intervals, where networks were forged and formed. The spirit for lifelong learning was palpably charged. 

In a country where there is a pressing need for research discussions and tangible outcomes, this conference marks a significant stride in advancing progress, particularly in the realm of qualitative research. We take great pride in having been key participants, actively collaborating, and co-sponsoring this meaningful occasion. It is through international academic events such as this conference (WCQR) that The DaVinci Institute, as a business school, fosters a dynamic exchange of ideas and knowledge among scholars, researchers, and industry experts. 


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