Mirrors, portraits, and member checking: Managing difficult moments of knowledge exchange in the social sciences.

Consultation is an important feature of research, and increasingly, researchers are required to work in partnership with stakeholders to improve the impact of their work. Our aim was to demonstrate what can be learned from the scholarship on, and practice of, member checking to facilitate productive knowledge exchange. Using dialogical analysis, we explored 3 member check interactions from 3 different qualitative psychology projects, focusing our analysis on difficult moments between researchers and participants conceptualized here as “sore spots”. We identified 2 major genres in these sequences: participant ambivalence and participant challenge. We then considered passages that allowed us to explore a more theoretical understanding of these 2 genres in terms of the metaphor of portraits and mirrors. Overall, we outline how implicit epistemologies and theories of subjectivity (uncomplicated, blank, and complex) may be linked to the way in which stakeholders approach research. We also provide a map regarding the theories within which member checks can be undertaken, associated research practices in terms of a range of researcher responses to stakeholder ambivalence and challenge, and implications of these moments for knowledge exchange for qualitative research but also for quantitative health and social sciences. We conclude that sore spots in the knowledge exchange process can be productive opportunities for transformational validity. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)