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Title: The visual vernacular : embracing photographs in research
Authors: Cleland, Jennifer
MacLeod, Anna
Keywords: Science::Medicine
Issue Date: 2021
Source: Cleland, J. & MacLeod, A. (2021). The visual vernacular : embracing photographs in research. Perspectives On Medical Education, 10(4), 230-237.
Journal: Perspectives on Medical Education
Abstract: The increasing use of digital images for communication and interaction in everyday life can give a new lease of life to photographs in research. In contexts where smartphones are ubiquitous and many people are "digital natives", asking participants to share and engage with photographs aligns with their everyday activities and norms more than textual or analogue approaches to data collection. Thus, it is time to consider fully the opportunities afforded by digital images and photographs for research purposes. This paper joins a long-standing conversation in the social science literature to move beyond the "linguistic imperialism" of text and embrace visual methodologies. Our aim is to explain the photograph as qualitative data and introduce different ways of using still images/photographs for qualitative research purposes in health professions education (HPE) research: photo-documentation, photo-elicitation and photovoice, as well as use of existing images. We discuss the strengths of photographs in research, particularly in participatory research inquiry. We consider ethical and philosophical challenges associated with photography research, specifically issues of power, informed consent, confidentiality, dignity, ambiguity and censorship. We outline approaches to analysing photographs. We propose some applications and opportunities for photographs in HPE, before concluding that using photographs opens up new vistas of research possibilities.
ISSN: 2212-2761
DOI: 10.1007/s40037-021-00672-x
Schools: Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine (LKCMedicine) 
Rights: © 2021 The Author(s). This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
Fulltext Permission: open
Fulltext Availability: With Fulltext
Appears in Collections:LKCMedicine Journal Articles

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