Amongst novice researchers, there is considerable uncertainty about how to use phenomenology as a methodological framework. The problem seems to reside in the fact that phenomenology is a philosophy, a foundation for qualitative research, as well as a research method in its own right. Added to this confusion is the misperception that phenomenology is one unified approach when it actually consists of three disparate complex philosophies. It is, therefore, important for a phenomenological researcher to state the approach that they have adopted for their research, as it impacts upon their selection of methodological procedures.

The aim of this article is to address these problems and to provide a useful resource to postgraduate education students who are considering applying this research method to their study. This article commences by defining phenomenology as a philosophy, and then explores a range of salient features of the three different philosophical approaches. It concludes by outlining how to carry out a transcendental phenomenological study with specific examples to illustrate key aspects of how to use the tools and techniques associated with this method of research.


phenomenology, lifeworld, bracketing, epoche, analysis, methodology

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