Qualitative Health Research Network


Critical workshop 2023

"Exploring 'change': Qualitative health research through crisis, disruption and emergence". Abstract submission has been extended until the 18th August 2023.

About the workshop

“Exploring ‘change’: Qualitative health research through crisis, disruption and emergence”.

When? Friday 3rd November 2023, 10-4.30pm

Where? University College London, Here East Campus, London, UK

Keynote address: Dr Stephen Roberts

Lecturer in Global Health, University College London


This one-day workshop convenes scholars from a broad range of academic disciplines to consider the complex dynamics of crisis, disruption and emergence which are implicated in research and engrained in health and social care. We invite submissions from early career researchers and seasoned academics to reflect on these issues via paper submissions, short presentations, and discussions (see the 2020 workshop for reference). A keynote address from Dr Stephen Roberts will begin the day.



Crisis is inevitable. When it strikes, it alters what we thought to be true and what we used to take for granted - our modi operandi are transformed. Change spurred on by crisis calls for examination and a rearranging of how we see and understand the world around us. This liminal space can be an opportunity for disruption, innovation, and creativity. In such instances, qualitative researchers may need to adjust their methods, positionality, theoretical groundings, and approaches to data collection (1-3). It allows for new ways of conceptualising and doing qualitative health research in ways that disrupt the status quo (4) However, emergence does not benefit everyone in the same ways. When we think about how to innovate from crisis and disruption, we must also ask ourselves who we exclude in these processes and how (5).

Qualitative health research has become increasingly important in times of change and lends itself well to exploring the complexities of the unexpected and unprecedented outcomes these may generate. Such complexities have been recognised in times of global crisis, such as COVID-19, but stretch far beyond the pandemic and span from the micro to the macro levels. Change can occur within or outside health and social care settings, and sits within wider social, political, and environmental contexts. Through emergence comes innovation – for example, this might pertain to physical and digital spaces, but also in terms of understanding people and communities in relation to human need, compassion and kindness alongside health. At stake are contemporary notions of quality, authority, responsibility and relevance in health and social care, and the processes through which knowledge is produced, circulated and applied (6-9).

Aims and scope of the workshop

In this workshop, we aim to facilitate critical dialogue on the topics of crisis, disruption and emergence within research in health and social care.  We invite submissions from researchers in all stages of their career (from PhD students, postdoctoral researchers through to professors).  Submissions should: 1) develop and/or discuss methodological and theoretical approaches to explore  disruption and emergence in health and social care research, and/or 2) examine how crisis, disruption and emergence relate to the status quo as an analytical framework to further explore notions of quality, authority, responsibility and relevance in knowledge production.


Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Studying the impact of crisis, disruption and emergence on methods and methodological approaches (e.g. co- production and co-creation).
  • Exploring community understandings and ways of communicating health-related concerns using first-person narratives, stories, and storytelling.
  • Contemplating the role of reflexivity within crisis, emergence, innovation, and potential change. The researcher perspective, as well as the participant perspectives and experiences.
  • Addressing the impacts of crisis in relation to inequalities and intersectionality.

Beyond merely presenting research studies or findings, this forum aims to stimulate discussions about key issues in crafting the future of qualitative health research. As such, we envisage that participants will pose thoughtful ideas and reflect on possible strategies to address the challenges we face in improving health and social care using qualitative methods.  The day will be limited to a small number of participants to promote a collaborative and interactive forum

Call for paper submissions

Submission process

If you would like to be considered for the event, please submit a 300-word abstract to qhrn@ucl.ac.uk outlining your idea.  Selections will be based on the merit of the idea and its connection to the themes of the event. Abstract submissions have been extended to the 18th August 2023.

After submission

Successful delegates will be required to submit a longer outline by Friday 13 October in the form of a short paper or “think piece” (max 1000 words, excluding references), which will be disseminated to other delegates for reading prior to the event.  Delegates will each be given the opportunity for a short pitch outlining their key points (~5 minutes) and discussion of their paper on the day of the workshop.  A major onus will be on group discussion of the papers and collaboration in highlighting interesting connections with the theme of crisis disruption and emergence in its theoretical and methodological aspects.


Further information

This workshop is organised by the UCL Qualitative Health Research Network.  The workshop will be free to attend and places will be limited to those with selected abstracts.  Please see our website for updates and FAQs.  Questions unanswered by our FAQ page can be directed to qhrn@ucl.ac.uk. You can also access a report and information about our previous critical workshop by clicking here.

Frequently asked questions

For a list of FAQs about the workshop, please see below:


For whom is this workshop?

The workshop is open to students, researchers, health and social care professionals and others interested in qualitative research and issues around truth, trust and research in health and social care.

Where and when is the workshop?

The workshop will be held on Friday 3 November, 10-4.30pm on the UCL at Here East campus (London, UK). 

Registration and attendance

When does the Call for Papers end for this event?

The Call for Papers ends at 17.00 GMT on the 18th August. 

How and when do I know if my abstract has been accepted?

You will receive an email from us by Friday 1 September.

How do I register for the workshop if my abstract is accepted?

Registration will open in early September. You will receive instructions to this regard in the email we will send you following acceptance of your abstract.

Is this workshop free of charge?

Yes. We wish to make it as inclusive as possible.

When am I required to submit my longer outline?

You will be required to submit your longer outline (limited to 1000 words) by 13 October.

Do I need to prepare anything else for the event itself?

Yes. You will be asked to read the papers of the other delegates prior to the event. We will start circulating them on 20 October. You will also be expected to make a short pitch of your paper (~5 minutes) without PowerPoint at the event in order to stimulate group discussion.

Am I expected to attend the whole day?

We want you to make the best use of your time with us. As this event’s success largely depends upon the dynamic of the group and the discussions on the day, we expect everyone to attend the whole event. Please do contact us however in case you would experience any issue with attending the whole day and we can discuss ways to accommodate your participation.

Can I attend without submitting an abstract?

No. We are limiting the event to a small number of participants to foster intimate discussion and extend ideas submitted in abstracts and papers. We want everyone involved to contribute written pieces for discussion. Please note that only one presenter per abstract accepted can attend the event. If you submitted your abstract on behalf of several authors, please let us know during the registration process which author will be attending the event.

When will I know about the programme of the day?

You will receive the programme by email in October.

 Transportation & accommodation

How do I get to the conference venue?

BY AIR: The closest International airports are London City, London Heathrow, London Gatwick and London Stansted. You can travel from the airports to Stratford by either rail or coach.

BY UNDERGROUND: Stratford is the nearest Tube station, on the Central and Jubilee Lines: it's a 20-minute walk from Here East (or a two-minute journey on the Overground from Hackney Wick). The Central Line connects to Bank (10 mins), Tottenham Court Road (18 mins) and Oxford Street (20 mins). The Jubilee line will take you to London Bridge in 17 minutes.

BY RAIL/OVERGROUND:  Hackney Wick is the nearest Overground station to Here East, about 6 minutes away by foot. It's one stop (two minutes) away from Stratford station, or 15-20 minutes from London's central transport hubs. Trains run approximately every 7-10 minutes depending on the day/time. 

BY SHUTTLE: Here East provides a free bus service to Stratford and Stratford International stations (five-minute journey time). Buses run approximately every five minutes, 7am to 10.30pm, Monday to Friday. Bus stop is near the entrance to UCL at Here East: just hop on/off.

BY CAR:  With the A11, A12, A13, M11 and M25, UCL at Here East is well positioned for access by road. Driving from Victoria station takes about an hour (you may have to pay the Congestion Charge if driving through central London). Paid parking is available next to the main building.

Where do I stay while attending the workshop?

We expect participants to book their own accommodation if required while attending the event. There are several hotels and hostels around UCL at Here East. Possible options include the Premier Inn in Westfield Stratford City, the Stratford Hotel in the Olympic Park or the Travelodge on High Street.


What food is provided?

Lunch and refreshments are provided. As QHRN aims to organise sustainable events, the menu will be 100% vegetarian.

What if I have a food allergy/intolerance of some sort?

Please be sure to include information about your allergies and/or intolerances when you complete your online registration, so that we can be sure to notify the venue of any dietary requirements. We will not be able to honour your requests if they are not included in your registration.


Is the venue wheelchair accessible?

Yes, the venue is easily accessible by wheelchair.

For any further queries, please do not hesitate to email qhrn@ucl.ac.uk


  1. Vindrola-Padros, C, G Chisnall, S Cooper, A Dowrick, N Djellouli, SM Symmons, S Martin, et al. “Carrying Out Rapid Qualitative Research During a Pandemic: Emerging Lessons From COVID-19” (2020).
  2. Eakin, Joan M. “Educating Critical Qualitative Health Researchers in the Land of the Randomized Controlled Trial.” Qualitative Inquiry 22, no. 2 (2016): 107–118.
  3. Pocock, Tessa, Melody Smith, and Janine Wiles. “Recommendations for Virtual Qualitative Health Research During a Pandemic.” QualitativeHealth Research 31, no. 13 (2021): 2403–2413.
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  8. Bowen, Sarah, Ingrid Botting, Ian D. Graham, Martha MacLeod, Danielle De Moissac, Karen Harlos, Bernard Leduc, Catherine Ulrich, and Janet Knox. “Experience of Health Leadership in Partnering with University-Based Researchers in Canada - A Call to ‘re-Imagine’ Research.” International Journal of Health Policy and Management 8, no. 12 (2019): 684–699.
  9. Ridge, Damien, Laurna Bullock, Hilary Causer, Tamsin Fisher, Samantha Hider, Tom Kingstone, Lauren Gray, et al. “‘Imposter Participants’ in Online Qualitative Research, a New and Increasing Threat to Data Integrity?” Health Expectations 26, no. 3 (2023): 941–944.