Thanks for introducing the Agar article. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Possibly because it was originally intended as an oral report to a live audience, it contained more humour in a quite colloquial manner.
Agar made me look up Guttman Scale, which was highly worthwhile. I’ve used Lickert Scales and often wondered if other types of scale exist. To summarise, a Guttman scale is a Yes-No questionnaire that has levels of question. A higher level question (e.g. ‘Are you a vegetarian?’) will subsume lower levels (e.g. ‘Do you eat meat?). I can see how this layering of questions helps test for rationality in questionnaire responses. It seems very useful.
I found myself nodding in agreement when he said, “newcomers often feel, after a brief exposure to qualitative methods, that they are perfectly capable of conducting an independent study” (Agar, 2004, p. 102). After our brief Learning Team experience with coding our Personal Narratives, I felt for a short moment that qualitative inquiry was a synch! Of course it’s not; it’s a way of thinking as Agar points out repeatedly. It’s an attitude towards a set of situations that suggests mutable and context appropriate methodologies. Learning what those methodologies are may not be so difficult. Developing a feel, a sense, for when they are appropriate and how they should be used, I suspect, will take a long time.
Agar, M. H 2004. Know When to Hold `Em, Know When to Fold `Em: Qualitative Thinking Outside the University. Qualitative Health Research, 14(10), 100-112.