We need to talk about epistemology: Orientations, meaning, and interpretation within music therapy research

Jane Edwards

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Abstract

Background: Epistemology is a termused explicitly in social science research to refer to theory of knowledge, or ways of knowing. Describing the epistemological stance underpinning research studies in music therapy that use social science methods such as grounded theory, phenomenology, and ethnography will increase understanding of the outcomes presented. Objective: To promote an understanding of epistemology and its applications for music therapy research. Methods: The researcher describes her own views and experiences in developing knowledge of epistemology with reference to the social sciences and music therapy research literature published in English. She first focuses on terminology, then presents a discussion of epistemology. Results: Further clarification is needed to improve understanding of the role of epistemology in advancing understanding of the foundations of the methods from the social sciences used in research in music therapy. Conclusions: In order to improve some aspects of research studies the following recommendations are made to authors. At minimum, a research report should, (a) define and describe the specific methodology such as grounded theory, phenomenology, ethnography, or other, (b) present the epistemological foundations of the method chosen, (c) include a statement on the personal standpoint of the researcher including motivations to undertake the study, (d) include the process of data analysis with justification from the epistemological stance as to why the process is credible, (e) provide outcomes of the analysis of the research in detail and in summary, and (f) refer to processes of reflexivity. © 2012 by the American Music Therapy Association.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationJournal of Music Therapy|J. Music Ther.
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherJohn Wiley & Sons Ltd
Pages372-394
Number of pages22
Volume49
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Grounded theory
  • Knowledge
  • Music therapy research
  • Phenomenology
  • Social science research methods

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