Reflexive Openness as Collaborative Methodology
By Susan Thomson, Colgate University
Drawing on her co-authored paper with Morris MacLean, Posner, and Wood introducing the concept of “reflexive openness”, Thomson extends this collaboration to explain why political scientists should be concerned with reflexive openness in their work with human participants. She foregrounds the collaborative value of reflexive openness to demonstrate why it is a necessary element of collaborative research for political scientists of any empirical stripe. Thomson extends the concept as more than an ongoing form of researcher self-assessment. She argues that the practice of reflexive openness can generate a deeper awareness of the power dynamics that often mark various relationships in the field, through considered reflection on one’s epistemology, methodology and method. As such, reflexive openness is a necessary component of collaborative research methodologies, for it provides a collaborative opportunity to understand and explain people’s relationships with each other and with power. Thomson concludes that reflexive openness is a collaborative methodology because it heightens a researcher’s awareness of relationships as the product of collaboration in all stages of the research process—from design to dissemination—each stage of which is marked by its own ethical concerns.