Bracketing: A "How-To" Guide

Tuesday, 14 July 2009: 1:45 PM

Bitsy Wedin, PhD, FNP, BA
School of Nursing, Northern Michigan University, Marquette, MI

Learning Objective 1: cite steps in bracketing process.

Learning Objective 2: vocalize how proper bracketing augments the phenomenological process.

Purpose: Bracketing in qualitative research is philosophically and theoretically complicated yet ethically essential. Several authors have endeavored to clarify the many methodological variants of bracketing, yet an actual “how-to” guide remains elusive.

Methods: In exploring the themes associated with wilderness travel and the return home from that travel, a step-by-step checklist of practiced existential bracketing was generated. By journaling this experience of bracketing, a better understanding of the steps associated with bracketing occured.

Results: Researchers must primarily be very clear as to what exactly they hold in abeyance. This content must be explored in depth and captured in entirety. Next, before viewing any data the researcher must focus on mentally setting aside that which has been identified as held in abeyance. This is a practiced mental exercise. Finally, the captured content needs to be periodically re-visited. Just as our perception of experience changes with time, so does that which we mentally sequester.

Conclusion: Bracketing in this manner is a practiced dynamic methodological process which serves to purify the phenomenon under review reducing bias in data interpretation.