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A community for qualitative researchers.

  • Woman researcher gazing up towards QuIRI logo

QuIRI brings together researchers from across Cornell who teach, employ, and develop rigorous qualitative research methodologies. The qualitative and interpretive social science faculty at Cornell University is among the very best in the world. QuIRI creates opportunities for collaboration and excellence in interpretive social science research and training.

  • About QuIRI

    • Cornell University’s QuIRI was established in 2020 to:

      1. Enhance the support for qualitative and interpretive social scientists at Cornell

      2. Increase the coordination and collaboration among Cornell faculty who teach, employ, and develop qualitative research methods

      3. Increase the visibility and awareness of qualitative methodological opportunities among the social sciences at Cornell

      4. Enhance the social science qualitative research methods training at Cornell

      5. Identify collaboration opportunities for qualitative researchers in other disciplines

      6. Enhance the external visibility of the strong qualitative research community at Cornell

      QuIRI has several programs and initiatives to support qualitative research at Cornell. We have a monthly seminar series that explores methods, technologies, and research projects related to various kinds of qualitative research. We have a bi-annual small grants program for Cornell faculty, post-docs, and Ph.D. students to support multiple types of research-related expenses. Our faculty working groups provide resources to bring together qualitative researchers for writing and or reading groups. Our faculty summer institute is intended for faculty across Cornell interested in incorporating qualitative methods into their research programs. See the tabs above for more details.


    • To join the QuIRI e-list please send an email message with the subject line JOIN to 

    • Leadership Team


      Headshot of Sharon Sassler

      Sharon Sassler, QuIRI Director, Policy and Analysis Management

      Headshot of Sharon Sassler

      Lee Humphreys, Former Founding QuIRI Director, Communication

      Headshot of Linda Shi

      Linda Shi, City and Regional Planning

      Headshot of Marina Welker

      Marina Welker, Anthropology

    • Previous Featured Researchers


      Laura Tach, Associate Professor of Public Policy and Sociology, Brooks School of Public Policy 

      My favorite book or article is "Suspending Damage: A Letter to Communities" by Eve Tuck.


      Katherine Sender, Professor, Communication, CALS

      My favorite qualitative methods book or article is Bird, E. S. (2003). Chapter 4: Imagining Indians: Negotiating identity in a media world. In The audience in everyday life: Living in a media world (pp. 86-117). New York: Routledge.


      Natasha Raheja, Assistant Professor, Anthropology

      My favorite qualitative methods book or article is Cerwonka, A. and Malkki, L.H., 2008. Improvising Theory. University of Chicago Press.


      Linda Shi, Assistant Professor, City and Regional Planning

      My favorite qualitative methods book or article is Mukhija, V. (2010). N of One plus Some: An Alternative Strategy for Conducting Single Case Research. Journal of Planning Education and Research, 29(4), 416–426.


      Alexandra Blackman, Assistant Professor, Government

      My favorite qualitative methods book or article is: Democracy in Translation: Understanding Politics in an Unfamiliar Culture (Frederic Charles Schaffer)


      Erica Phillips, MD, MS, Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine, Division of General Internal Medicine Weill Cornell Medical College  

      My favorite qualitative methods book or article is Basics of Qualitative Research: Second Edition: Techniques and Procedures for Developing Grounded Theory 2nd Edition by Anselm Strauss (Author) and Juliet Corbin (Author). 


      Amelia Greiner Safi, Senior Research Associate, Department of Communication 

      My favorite qualitative methods books and articles are from Michael Q. Patton’s work, like Qualitative Research and Evaluation Methods.


      Jenny Goldstein, Assistant Professor, Department of Global Development

      My favorite qualitative methods book or article is currently a toss-up between Gibson-Graham, J.K. 2014. Rethinking the economy with thick description and weak theory. Current Anthropology 55(9):147-153 and Lave, R., Biermann, C., Lane, S.N. 2018. The Palgrave Handbook of Critical Physical Geography. London: Palgrave.


      Tristan Ivory, Assistant Professor, Industrial and Labor Relations

      In terms of a favorite qualitative methods article, I don’t think in terms of favorites most of the time. Still, I always appreciate work that revisits older methods or applies methods beyond the disciple/sub-field where they are most commonly employed.


      Maureen Waller, Professor in the Department of Policy Analysis & Management and Sociology (by courtesy)

      My favorite qualitative methods article is Mario Small’s “‘How Many Cases Do I Need?’ On Science and the Logic of Case Selection in Field-Based Research” published in Ethnography


      Sofia Villenas, Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology

      My favorite qualitative methods book or resource is Feminist Ethnography: Thinking through Methodologies, Challenges, and Possibilities, by Dana-Ain Davis and Christa Craven.

  • Seminar Series

    Monthly Qualitative Methods Seminar Series

    All QuIRI seminars are held online to encourage broad participation across Cornell.

    Upcoming Sessions (view full descriptions in the tabs below)

    • QuIRI Kick-Off Talk!

      A Matter of Interpretation:  The Letter of the Law and Complainants’ Lived Experiences of Discrimination under Title IX

      September 7th, 3:30 – 4:30 in 291 Clark Hall, To Be Followed By A Reception, Meet & Greet

      Vida Maralani, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology

      In social science research, the nature of specific substantive questions informs our choice of the data and methods we use for answering these questions. But data are themselves constructed, and data construction is an interpretive process. In this presentation, I discuss the different approaches used to construct the data analyzed in a study of claims of sexual discrimination in higher education, drawn from information contained in more than 1,300 letters from the Office of Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Education to universities and colleges that have allegedly violated Title IX. Our methods include 1) qualitative coding of legal letters; 2) direct text analysis; 3) and constructing a quantitative database with hundreds of closed-ended variables based on these letters. I will explain how and why we co-construct these data in a mutually informed and recursive process and the different substantive questions that we answer with some or all of the different data bits.

    • Getting Your Findings Out to Non-Academic Audiences

      Friday, October 27th, 3:30 - 4:45pm in 291 Clark Hall

      Karl PillemerHazel E. Reed Professor in the Department of Psychology and Professor of Gerontology in Medicine at the Weill Cornell Medical College

      Karl Pillemer has published several highly acclaimed books that have received broad media coverage. His most recent book, Fault Lines: Fractured Families and How to Mend Them, has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning News, PBS, and has been regularly mentioned in the Atlantic, The New York Times, and other high-profile media outlets. His earlier books (30 Lessons for Living: Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans, 30 Lessons for Loving: Advice from the Wisest Americans on Love, Relationships, and Marriage) have been translated into several languages. In this informal discussion, Dr. Pillemer will provide his insight into how to disseminate your research findings beyond the ivory tower.

    • From Chinatown to Every Town: How Chinese Immigrants Have Expanded Restaurant Business in the United States. 

      Thursday, November 16th, 3:30 - 4:45pm in 291 Clark Hall or in Zoom

      Dr. Zai Liang, Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Sociology in the Department of East Asian Studies at SUNY-Albany

      Dr. Zai Liang will give a talk to QuIRI on his recent book, From Chinatown to Every Town: How Chinese Immigrants Have Expanded Restaurant Business in the United States. Based on his new book, this presentation explores the recent history of Chinese immigration within the United States and the fundamental changes in spatial settlement that have relocated many low-skilled Chinese immigrants from New York City's Chinatown to new immigrant destinations. Using a mixed-method approach over a decade in Chinatown and six destination states, sociologist Zai Liang specifically examines how the expansion and growing popularity of Chinese restaurants has shifted settlement to more rural and faraway areas. Liang's study demonstrates that key players such as employment agencies, Chinatown buses, and restaurant supply shops facilitate the spatial dispersion of immigrants while simultaneously maintaining vital links between Chinatown in Manhattan and new immigrant destinations.


    • Previous Seminars

      Insight-Out: Political Phenomenology and the Trials of Liberal Democracy

      May 5th, 10-11am

      With Uriel Abulof, Visiting Associate Professor, Israel Institute, Department of Government

      Working Group Panel

      April 13th, 4-5pm

      With Leila Wilmers from Sociology and Gili Vidan from Information Science.

      View the presentation here

      On Interviewing

      March 24th, 4-5pm

      With Lee Humphreys from Communication, Linda Shi from City and Regional Planning, and Sharon Sassler from Brooks School of Public Policy.

      View the presentation here

      Rocking Qualitative Social Science

      3pm, February 3rd, 2023

      By Ashley Rubin, Associate Professor, Sociology, University of Hawaii

      View the presentation here

      On Writing

      1-2pm, November 4, 2022

      Dr. Katherine Sender, Department of Communication and Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program

      View the presentation here

      Writing resources from the presentation can be found here

      Immigrant Worker Precarity

      1-2pm, December 2, 2022

      Dr. Shannon Gleeson, ILR

      View the presentation here.

      Her new book is Scaling Migrant Work Rights.

      Her newest project explores Temporary Immigration Status, Race, and Workplace Precarity.  

      Social Inquiry and Bayesian Inference: Rethinking Qualitative Research

      Co-sponsored by QuIRI

      12-1pm, November 10, 2022

      Prof. Tasha Fairfield, Department of International Development at the London School of Economics

      Prof. Fairfield will present insights from her new book, which provides an extended treatment of how to apply Bayesian analysis to evaluate complex, real-world, qualitative case-study evidence, with fully-worked example applications. The book also elaborates Bayesian insights for avoiding cognitive biases and improving analytical judgments in traditional case study narratives. Beyond case study applications, it argues that Bayesianism guides inference in cross-case comparative studies, facilitates combining quantitative and qualitative information, and lessons distinctions between large-N vs. small-N research, probabilistic vs. determinist causation, and deductive vs. inductive stages of analysis. 

      On Writing

      1-2pm, November 4, 2022,

      Dr. Katherine Sender, Department of Communication and Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program

      Writing is an essential part of what all researchers do, yet little attention or training is offered on it. In this QuIRI seminar, Dr. Katherine Sender will discuss different strategies for writing-as-research. She will share various approaches to writing and strategies for writing more productively and effectively. This seminar will also include an interactive element where participants will engage in several writing exercises. Writing is a skill that can be honed to facilitate the production of knowledge as well as its elegant communication.

      View the presentation here.

      Big Data Meets Thick Description: Thinking Interpretively with Computational Data

      1-2pm, October 7, 2022

      With Alum Chelsea Butkowski, Ph.D. '22, Communication, and Ph.D. Student Aspen Russell, Information Science

      As a qualitative researcher, have you ever considered using “Big Data” but didn’t know where to start? As a computational researcher, have you wanted to achieve greater depth and contextualization of your data? In our presentation, we will show how computational tools can act as a complementary means to achieve interpretive insights. You will be exposed to both practical (standard tools & software libraries) and theoretical (computational qual/quant/mixed methods) approaches.

      View the presentation here

      2022 Trevor Pinch QuIRI Innovation Awardee Presentation

      1-2pm, September 16, 2022

      Senior Lecturer Dr. Gilly Leshed, Information Science

      Seminar Slides

      View the presentation here.

      In-person Reception

      Learn more about QuIRI, celebrate the work of fellow qualitative researchers from across campus, and discuss possible collaboration opportunities in person!

      4-5pm May 13, 2022.

      Graduate Researchers Panel

      1-2pm Apr 1, 2022

      Negar Khojatest, Information Science; Kendra Kintzi, Development Sociology; Yoselinda Mendoza, Sociology; Elif Sari, Anthropology; Gloria Xiong, Government; & Daniel Ferman-Leon, Anthropology.

      This seminar showcases graduate student researchers across the university who have received support from QuIRI.

      Collaboration in Qualitative Research

      1-2pm Mar 11, 2022

      Amelia Greiner-Safi, Associate Professor of Practice, Public Health, Cornell Vet; Sharon Sassler, Professor, Brooks School of Public Policy; Eli Friedman, Associate Professor & Chair Department of International and Comparative Labor, ILR; and Diane Bailey, Professor, Dept of Communication

      This seminar explores best practices of collaboration in qualitative research. The panelists will draw on their research experiences to share what to avoid and how to make the most of collaborations.

      View the presentation here.


      1-2pm Feb 4, 2022

      With Katie Foriella, Assistant Professor, Public Health, Cornell Vet, and Elizabeth Fox, Assistant Professor of Practice, Public Health, Cornell Vet.

      This seminar will discuss Photovoice methods: what they are and when to use them, data collection strategies, and best practices. We will provide applied examples of their use in the field and lessons learned from projects in Haiti, Cambodia, and Kenya.

      View the presentation here.

      Integrating Qualitative Social Science and Storytelling for Global Impact

      1-2pm Dec 10 

      Cornell Alum Raul Roman, Ph.D. ’04, Founder & Executive Director,

      Raul Roman is a non-traditional creative professional at the intersection of social science, journalism, and the visual arts. He is the Founder and Executive Director of DAWNING, a social venture devoted to high-impact research-driven storytelling on global development, climate change, and human rights. In this seminar, Dr. Raul Roman will describe integrating qualitative social science and storytelling in his work around the world.

      View the presentation here. 

      Participatory Action Research Panel

      1-2pm Nov 12, 2021 

      Featuring Richard Keily, Office of Engagement Initiatives at Cornell; Karen Purcell, Cornell’s Lab of Ornithology; Rana Zadeh, Dept of Design & Environmental Analysis at Cornell; Bobby Wilson, Metro Atlanta Urban Farm; Makeda Cheatom, WorldBeat Cultural Center; and Phyllis E. Turner, Community Science Collaborator, Metro Atlanta Urban Farm.

      This panel will explore the key opportunities and challenges of participatory action research (PAR). The panel includes scholars, practitioners, and community members involved in PAR. Video recording is coming soon.

      -- Noise Project:

      -- Noise Project working agreements:

      -- Non-negotiables for doing research and evaluation in our communities (Community Review board of Non-negotiables):

      -- Meaningful collaborations (a workbook for Community-based Organizations):

      -- Partnerships for Impact (a workbook for STEM Institutions):

      -- View the presentation here

      QuIRI Networking Event / Working Group Mixer  

      1-2pm Oct 1, 2021 

      In-person meeting

      Meet the QuIRI leadership team and fellow QuIRI affiliates for an informal networking event. If you are interested in becoming a member of a QuIRI Working Group, this event is for you!

      2021 QuIRI Innovation Award: Digital Due Process Clinic

      Sept 10, 2021

      Malte Ziewitz, Assistant Professor, STS

      What is it like to be judged by a computer system, and what if this is done unfairly? In this talk, Matle Ziewitz introduces the Digital Due Process Clinic, a clinical research program at Cornell where students and faculty work together on behalf of people struggling with automated scoring systems. Founded in September 2019, the program takes the didactic model of the law school clinic and transposes it to the social sciences with a particular focus on qualitative research. Responding to the growing use of automated decision systems in all areas of life, the clinic brings together multidisciplinary teams of undergraduate students to document the lived experiences of people who feel mistreated by these systems—and to think about alternative forms of (non-legal) recourse and relief. View the presentation.

      2021 CCSS QuIRI Working Groups Panel

      May 14, 2021

      In this seminar, we heard from the QuIRI working groups funded in Fall 2020. The groups examined: Practicing Ethnography in Unprecedented Times, Elite and Citizen Interviews in High-Risk Settings, Cross-National Issues in Racial/Ethnic Inequality, and Studying Identities through a Creative Qualitative Lens. Each group discussed key issues they explored and shared important insights from their work. View the presentation. 

      Focus Groups and Best Practices

      Apr 23, 2021

      Jane Powers and Amanda Purington from BCTR ACT for Youth discuss best practices of focus group research. Participants learn how to develop a focus group protocol, construct questions, and prepare for and conduct focus groups. Tips for transcription, data management, and data analysis strategies are also discussed. View this presentation and view materials from this presentation.

      Software for Qualitative Research

      Feb 22, 2021

      Florio Arguillas and Lynda Kellam from CCSS present various helpful software for qualitative research. They discuss tools for collecting qualitative data through recording and transcription software and note-taking software. They discuss tools for analyzing qualitative data and the key differences between software packages. Lastly, they describe software for writing up qualitative research. View this presentation. View slides from this presentation.

      Qualitative Data Repository Workshop: Sharing and Archiving your Qualitative Research

      Dec 4, 2020

      Lynda Kellam of CCSS, and Sebastian Karcher, of Syracuse University’s Qualitative Data Repository, discuss opportunities for archiving qualitative research. This workshop is intended for qualitative researchers at all stages of their careers who are interested in learning more about SU’s Qualitative Data Repository (QDR), of which Cornell is a member. The workshop explores opportunities for Cornell qualitative social scientists to engage in open science practices. View this presentation. 

      Indigenous Ways of Knowing and Transdisciplinary Research

      Oct 23, 2020  

      Professor Karim-Aly Kassam of the Department of Natural Resources and the American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program presented “Indigenous Ways of Knowing and Transdisciplinary Research. In this talk, he draws on his research examining human and environmental relations, addressing indigenous ways of knowing, food sovereignty, sustainable livelihoods, stewardship, and climate change.

      Digital Qualitative Methods During COVID

      Oct 9, 2020

      QuIRI Director Lee Humphreys introduces current QuIRI program initiatives and presents “Digital Qualitative Methods During COVID,” with ideas and strategies for different qualitative methods that utilize digital communication technologies.

  • Grants and Awards

    • Small Grants Program Fall 2023

      The CCSS QuIRI Small Grants Program is intended to provide up to $2,000.00 in funding for qualitative research expenses (such as participant compensation, travel, equipment, transcription software, research assistants, publishing costs, etc.) to Cornell faculty, post-docs, & doctoral students in the social sciences. Priority will be given to projects that may lead to other funding or help move a project to completion and/or publication. Individual applicants will not be awarded more than once per project per year. 

      Doctoral students must be post-A-exam to receive a grant.

      Faculty who apply to this should not be dissuaded from applying to the CCSS Research, Conference, or Roper Center Grants. These smaller amounts of funding are different from other CCSS funding and are intended to help qualitative scholars in their research. 

      Your application should include your:

      1. Name
      2. Rank
      3. Department(s)/unit(s)
      4. Project title
      5. 500-word description of the project
      6. Budget
      7. Budget justification
      8. Any relevant COVID-19 backup plans
      9. If you are a grad student, please also include a letter of support from your Ph.D. committee chair. Alternatively, your committee chair may send the letter to our director Sharon Sassler at

      All materials should be compiled into a single pdf for submission. 

      Applications open in the Spring 2024 semester.

      Email the QuIRI team with questions:

      Doctoral Assistant, Erika Abbott:

      Director, Sharon Sassler:


    • Faculty Working Groups

      The QuIRI Faculty Working Groups Program is intended for faculty-led writing and/or reading groups of social science faculty who employ qualitative research methods.

      Proposed working groups:

      • Can be themed around specific methods, analytical approaches, or software and methods training.
      • May also explore theoretical or empirical synergies.
      • Should include four to five members per group, including the faculty leader, and ideally at least two members from different departments/units.
      • May have doctoral students, although a faculty member must lead.

      Each group member will receive up to $500, awarded individually or as a group, for research materials/equipment, participant compensation, software, or other group costs. 

      Before filling out your application, be sure to have:

      1. Your department's financial liaison information
      2. A list of all your participants, their positions, colleges, departments, and ID numbers if PhD students
      3. All participants' CVs
      4. A description of the goals or purpose of your working group
      5. A tentative meeting schedule for the calendar year
      6. A budget
      7. A budget justification

      Applications open Fall 2023.

    • The Trevor Pinch QuIRI Innovation Award

      To donate to this award: Click Here (Please specify that the gift is in memory of Trevor Pinch)

      The death of Professor Trevor Pinch deeply saddened QuIRI in December 2021. He was a founding member of the QuIRI leadership team and a generous advocate and teacher of qualitative methods. He will be sorely missed. In honor of his creative spirit and out-of-the-box thinking, we are pleased to announce that the QuIRI Innovation Award is now called the Trevor Pinch QuIRI Innovation Award. QuIRI looks forward to continuing his legacy of teaching, developing, and promoting innovative, interpretive research across the social sciences.

      Headshot of Trevor Pinch

      About the Award

      The Trevor Pinch QuIRI Innovation Award is given to a Cornell faculty member who demonstrates innovation in developing, using, or teaching qualitative methods. 

      Winners receive a $500 honorarium.

      2023 Award Winner

      We are pleased to announce that the 2023 Trevor Pinch QuIRI Innovation Award has been awarded to Dr. Elizabeth Fox, 
      Assistant Professor of Practice,
      for her outstanding teaching of qualitative methods using innovative and engaged approaches to public health. 

      Headshot of Gilly Elizabeth Fox


      Previous Winners

      • 2022: Dr. Gilly Leshed, Senior Lecturer in Information Science at Cornell
      • 2021: Malte Ziewitz, Assistant Professor, Science and Technology Studies
    • Previous Small Grant Award Winners

      Previous Working Group Award Winners

Featured QuIRI Researcher

Headshot of Gili Vidan

Gili Vidan, Assistant Professor, Information Science, Bowers College of Computing and Information Science 

Years at Cornell: 2

In my recent project, we/I conducted:

Archival research into the motivation behind the Counterfeit Deterrence System,
an assemblage of digital watermarking technologies embedded in consumer
electronics and visual media editing software to prevent the reproduction of
images of banknotes.

One important finding was:

Finding traces of the ways government agencies enrolled private sector
companies in the project, becoming de facto state representatives vis-à-vis their

One thing that surprised me was:

Finding a lot of available resources helping users to fairly easily circumvent the
CDS features circulating and being discussed openly.

My favorite qualitative methods book or article is:

Something She Called a Fever: Michelet, Derrida, and Dust” by Carolyn Steedman in
The American Historical Review (2001).

In the next year, I look forward to:

Revisiting some archival sites I haven’t had a chance to go to since the start of the pandemic as I return to my book project on the history of electronic authentication in the US.


Did your research benefit from the Qualitative and Interpretive Research Institute (QuIRI)?

Please acknowledge QuIRI and CCSS with the following language when publicizing or presenting your research results: “This research was supported by the Qualitative and Interpretive Research Institute in the Cornell Center for Social Sciences.” 


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