Recipients of the ‘Joan Eakin Award for Methodological Excellence in a Qualitative Doctoral Dissertation’.
The winner of the 2019-2020 Joan Eakin Award for Methodological Excellence in a Qualitative Doctoral Dissertation is Dr. Sarah Elton, for her dissertation titled A posthumanist study of health and the food system: Vegetal politics in Toronto Urban Gardens in the Anthropocene.
The Awards Committee had the following to say about Dr. Elton’s work: “This is a really outstanding submission that abounds with creativity and innovation. Employing posthumanist theory, this multispecies ethnography examines how plants support human health in the city. In doing so, it challenges our notions of who and what are social actors. The notion of ‘vegetal politics’, plants as participants and the co-constructed nature of Dr. Elton’s research are highly intriguing and forward-thinking. Through a masterful flow and logic of argumentation, and a high level of reflexivity, Dr. Elton pushes the boundaries of qualitative research and yet is always rigorous and theoretically grounded. The language she uses demonstrates a creative playfulness that is refreshing in scholarly work and indeed, all too rare.”
You can view Dr. Elton’s dissertation on the University of Toronto’s TSpace website.
CQ is proud to announce the winners of this year’s ‘Joan Eakin Award for Methodological Excellence in a Qualitative Doctoral Dissertation’: Dr. Ramya Kumar, of the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, and Dr. Rona MacDonald of the Rehabilitation Sciences Institute at the University of Toronto. Congratulations to both winners!
The awards committee had the following to say about this year’s winners:
This dissertation, which complicates hegemonic narratives of privatization, is theoretically rich and deeply reflexive. Using a Marxist third world feminist perspective, Ramya Kumar examines the ways in which women negotiate healthcare under privatization in Kandy, Sri Lanka. Writing in a compelling manner that takes the reader inside the place of her research, Kumar both shows the challenges and potentials of an insider/outsider status, and through her close attention to the nuances of participation and transcription, for example, actively decolonizes the research process itself. This dissertation should be mandatory reading in all global health courses, as well as for any clinician who is interested in doing qualitative research. Read Ramya’s thesis here.
In this dissertation Rona Macdonald examines the underexplored area of ‘never married’, older women, living alone as a site of real and potential discrimination. By creatively using theory as an analytic tool to identify interpretive repertoires, subject positions and ideological dilemmas, and reflexively troubling the research process itself, this dissertation shows what good qualitative research can do to expose often unacknowledged oppressive forces in health care encounters. In doing so, this dissertation both pushes at the conventional margins of Occupational Therapy practice and extends the conversation of how we, as a society understand the notion of being single. Read Rona’s thesis here.
CQ is happy to announce the 2017-18 Award winner is Dr. Clara Juando-Prats for her inspired research “Health care access and utilization by young mothers experiencing homelessness: A Bourdieusian analysis with an arts-based approach.” Clara successfully defended her thesis in June 2017 with the Lawrence Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing at University of Toronto. Clara was supervised by Dr. Jan Angus, with additional supervisory and committee support from Dr. Janet Parsons and Dr. Diane Farmer.
The award committee had the following to say about Clara’s dissertation: “A compelling embodiment of Bourdieu, this dissertation is detailed, thoughtful and theoretically and methodologically exciting. It is written with depth and care. Intrinsically and fundamentally reflexive, it is an illustration of the type of work that is produced when we can sit with and in the text. The thesis is an engaging narrative that takes a critical perspective on arts-based methods while illustrating and making a cogent argument for its use in the health sciences, and its capacity to effect social change. There is a strong link between the theory, methodology, and methods; it flows together and gives us a more fulsome understanding both of Bourdieu and the lives of young mothers who experience homelessness.”
The honourable mention of this year’s award goes to Dr. Laena Maunula who successfully defended her dissertation “Citizenship in a post-pandemic world: A Foucauldian discourse analysis of H1N1 in the Canadian print news media” in June 2017 with the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at University of Toronto. Laena was supervised by Dr. Ann Robertson, with committee support from Dr. Alison Thompson and Dr. Margaret MacNeill.
The award committee had the following to say about Laena’s dissertation: “Using a Foucauldian discourse analysis to examine how ‘risk’ was characterized in Canadian print news media in the context of the H1N1 pandemic of 2009-2010, this dissertation not only provides important insight into how print technology is an important site in which we learn to understand, act on, and change our bodies in the name of infectious risk, it also provides a very helpful ‘how to’ for others taking on discourse analysis. The writing and careful delineation of her theoretical stance served to highlight the author’s depth (and breadth) of understanding of qualitative research and its power. Its composition, attention to reflexivity and thorough methodological treatment makes it an impressive contribution to critical qualitative health inquiry.”
From left to right: Jan Angus, Denise Gastaldo, Margaret MacNeil, Clara Juando-Prats (2019 winner), Laena Maunuela (honourable mention), Ann Robertson, Brenda Gladstone, Alison Thompson, Diane Farmer, Janet Parsons
The 2016-17 Award was given to Dr. Julia Gray for her excellent qualitative doctoral thesis entitled “An aesthetic of relationality: exploring the intersection of embodiment, imagination and foolishness in research-informed theatre”, which she completed in the Department of Leadership, Higher and Adult Education at OISE. Julia’s thesis committee members were Dr. Pia Kontos (supervisor), Dr. Bonnie Burstow, and Dr. Tara Goldstein.
The Awards Commitee made the following remarks about Julia’s submission: “This is a lyrical, beautifully written and deeply embodied piece of work. Working against an ‘aesthetic of objectivity’ that often dominates the ways in which theatre and research intersect, it is refreshingly different to anything we’ve ever read. Centering an aesthetic of relationality, the thesis is a theorization, a study in and an integrated ethics of reflexivity. Like a double hermeneutic, it makes clear that reflexivity is a foundational concept in critical theoretically-informed work and the raison d’etre of CQ. Encouraging us to be bold, fearless, and radical in our goals for transformation, it offers a new way of thinking about ‘foolishness’, failure, and risk-taking. We are reminded that to be a critical qualitative researcher you must risk playing the fool.”
The Honorable Mention went to Dr. Gail Teachman, who graduated from the Rehabilitation Science Institute (RSI), for her thesis “Interrogating inclusion: Critical research with disabled youth who use augmentative and alternative communication.” Gail’s thesis committee members were Dr. Barbara Gibson (co-supervisor), Dr. Colin Macarthur (co-supervisor), and Dr. Peggy McDonough.
The Awards Committee’s comments on Gail’s work included: “This thesis is theoretically sound, cohesive, crisp, and critical. The methodological tools and strategies have impact beyond the substantive findings. We especially appreciate the interrogation of commonly held assumptions about communication and communicators. This provides new methodological strategies for understanding and expanding knowledge of authentic communication.”
The 2015-16 Award was given to Dr. Jijian Voronka for her excellent qualitative doctoral thesis entitled “Troubling Inclusion: The politics of peer work and ‘people with lived experience’ in mental health interventions”, which she completed in the Department of Social Justice Education at OISE. Jijian’s thesis committee members were Dr. Sherene Razack (supervisor), Dr. Kimberley White and Dr. Kari Dehli.
The Awards Commitee made the following remarks about Jijian’s submission: “Jijian’s submission is unique in that it seamlessly and skillfully blends autoethnography, critical theory, Foucault, and genealogy with the substantive field of ‘mad studies’, a term which is a resistance and a counter discourse to the dominant mental health/illness discourse. Jijian’s thesis is a creative, reflexive and inherently critical work. This thesis epitomizes critical scholarship; it challenges key notions, concepts, and ideas about the field of ‘mental illness’ and challenges the very notion of it with a new one – ‘madness’. Theory and methodology are integrated throughout this thesis to create a coherent whole. Jijian’s thesis is an exercise in critical reflexivity; she offers a critical take on epistemology and seamlessly situates herself in her work.”
The 2014-15 Award was given to Dr. Coralee McLaren for the outstanding work she did for her qualitative doctoral thesis, entitled “Dancing-Bodies-Moving-Spaces: An Ethnography of Disabled and Non-disabled Children’s Movement in a Kindergarten Classroom,” which she completed in the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing. Coralee’s thesis committee members were Dr. Pat McKeever (supervisor), Dr. Geoffrey Edwards, Dr. Susan Ruddick, Dr. Tom Chau and Dr. Karl Zabjek.
The Awards Committee made the following comments about Coralee’s submission: “Coralee’s thesis is a brilliant piece of work. Coralee creatively integrated metaphor; her work is lyrical, artfully written and presented. Coralee seamlessly merged health research, social science and the humanities. This dissertation was theoretically and methodologically congruent; it embodies the principles and integrity of CQ.”
The Honorable Mention went to Dr. Maki Iwase, who graduated from the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, for her thesis “The Social Effects of Gestational Diabetes in ‘High-risk ethnic groups’.” Maki’s thesis committee members were Dr. Sioban Nelson (supervisor), Dr. Ping-Chun Hsiung and Dr. Lorna Weir.
The Awards Committee’s comments on Maki’s work included: “A solid dissertation; this work is theoretically and methodologically coherent, well researched, integrative and consistent, and showed great attention to reflexivity, rigour and trustworthiness.”
We invite everyone to read Coralee and Maki’s work, which is available on the University of Toronto’s T-Space at the following link:
The 2013-14 Award was given to Dr. Craig Dale for the exemplary methodological/theoretical work he did for his thesis in the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, entitled “Locating Critical Care Nurses in Mouth Care: An Institutional Ethnography.” Craig’s thesis committee members were Dr. Jan Angus (supervisor), Dr. Eric Mykhalovskiy and Dr. Taz Sinuff.
The Awards Committee made the following comments about Craig’s submission: “This thesis was innovative, taking what is, on the surface, a small aspect of care and problematizing it to show wider implications. The dissertation was methodologically and theoretically strong, cohesive with consistent links between the theoretical lens and methodology (including data collection and analysis strategies), and demonstrated reflexivity and attention to rigour.”
The Honorable Mention went to Dr. Sarah Sanford who graduated from the Dalla Lana School of Public Health for her thesis “Integrating Pandemic through Preparedness: Global Security and the Utility of Threat.” Sarah’s thesis committee members were Dr. Peggy McDonough (supervisor), Dr. Ann Robertson, and Dr. Jessica Polzer.
The Awards Committee’s comments on Sarah’s work included: “Coherent and methodologically very strong – methods flowed logically from the theoretical framing; nice linking between critical discourse analysis and theoretical framework.”
The 2011-12 Award was given to Dr. Ann Fudge Schormans for the superlative methodological/theoretical work she did for her thesis in the University of Toronto’s Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work: “The Right or Responsibility of Inspection: Social Work, Photography, and People with Intellectual Disabilities”.
The Awards Committee made the choice from a very crowded field of excellent submissions, summarizing their rationale for selecting Ann’s research with these notes: “Beautifully written; creative methodology that was very integrated; excellent use of theory that was embedded throughout the thesis; author’s voice was present without taking over; respectful and thoughtful tone regarding participants; an important piece of work; clear to reader how methods could be transferred to other similar contexts; elegantly written with nothing extraneous; readers found it unsettling, empowering, transformative; reviewers learned a lot from the thesis, it made them think differently; they wanted to read the entire thesis; it was a pleasure to read.” Ann will be presenting some of this work at a CQ Speakers Series seminar in early fall.
The Honorable Mention went to Dr. Maria Athina Martimianakis of OISE-UT’s Department of Theory and Policy Studies, for her thesis: “Discourse, Governance and Subjectivity: Interdisciplinarity and Knowledge-Making in Engineering and in Medicine”.
The Award Committee’s notes on Tina’s work included: “very interesting use of methodology; consistent; outstanding; timely/relevant; in keeping with CQ ideals – critical, problematizing what is taken for granted or what has become normal.”
We invite everyone to read these theses, which are available on the University of Toronto’s T-Space at the following links:
We also wish to congratulate the other three top finalists whose theses were described by the reviewers as “sound, clearly met award criteria, instructive, well-written and creative”: Josephine Wong and Esther Ignani (Dalla Lana School of Public Health) and Laurie Clune (Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing).
The innaugural winner was Dr. Brenda Gladstone, graduate of the Social Science and Health doctoral program in the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, for her thesis entitled “All in the Same Boat”: An Analysis of a Support Group for Children of Parents with Mental Illnesses.”
Brenda Gladstone is a health sociologist with a PhD from the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto. For her doctoral work she used ethnographic observations, informal interviews and critical discourse analysis to examine participants’ responses to a psychoeducational support group for children of parents with mental illnesses. In her research capacity at SickKids she uses theoretically informed qualitative and arts-based methodologies in CIHR- and SSHRC- funded studies to investigate help-seeking pathways to mental health care from the perspective of young people experiencing, or ‘at ultra high-risk’ of psychosis. Brenda is Adjunct Lecturer in the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing at the University of Toronto where she teaches graduate courses in qualitative methodology at the Centre for Critical Qualitative Health Research.
Honourable mention went to Dr. Paula Gardner, graduate of the Health and Behavioural Science doctoral program at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, for her thesis entitled “The Public Life of Older People: Neighbourhoods and Networks.”
We invite everyone to read Brenda and Paula’s work, which is available on the University of Toronto’s T-Space at the following links: