New perspectives, theory, method, and practice: Qualitative research and innovation in speech-language pathology

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology


Taylor & Francis


School of Medical and Health Sciences


Hersh, D., Azul, D., Carroll, C., Lyons, R., Mc Menamin, R., & Skeat, J. (2022). New perspectives, theory, method, and practice: Qualitative research and innovation in speech-language pathology. International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology. Advance online publication.




Research in speech-language pathology has been dominated by experimental, empirical, and scientific approaches, which build on hypothesis testing and logical, deductive reasoning. Qualitative approaches stem from a different paradigm or world view which imply different questions and methodologies which, for example, emphasise codesign, reciprocity, individual experience and context. This article explores the relationship between qualitative inquiry in the field of speech-language pathology and innovation. It aims to show how the aspirations of the profession can be supported, and how innovation can be achieved, through research which sheds light on the lived experiences and perceptions of clients and families and builds an understanding of how they function in their everyday contexts.


We summarise qualitative approaches in speech-language pathology, explain the notion of innovation, and review qualitative research as a source of theoretical, methodological, and practice innovation in speech-language pathology.


Not only has qualitative inquiry underpinned examples of theoretical, methodological and practice innovations in speech-language pathology, but it can also play a part in enhancing translation and implementation of research innovations.


An explicit consideration of what we mean by innovation is useful for speech-language pathologists. Qualitative research complements other forms of research in the field and has prompted new theoretical understandings, new methodologies and methods of research, and new ways to deliver our services in ways that are responsive to our clients and communities.



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