Insight, Inference, Evidence, and Verification: Creating a Legitimate Discipline

  • Janice M. Morse University of Alberta


Challenges to the subjective nature of qualitative inquiry, recent interest in evidence-based practice, and the advances in mixed-method design have all contributed to the value and utilization of qualitative inquiry. The author is concerned, however, that the value placed on evidence and the agenda of qualitative-quantitative mixed-method design will devalue the role and contributions of insight and inference in our research. In this address, she argues that research using insight and inference can and must be used and valued in qualitative inquiry. Insights invariably arise from single instances, exemplars, or single-case studies, albeit often, but not always, verified in other instances. But the knowledge gained from insight might make a greater contribution to scholarly study than replication and verification, for without insight, research can be mundane and obvious.