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Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis

Theory, Method and Research

Jonathan A Smith Birkbeck College
Paul Flowers Glasgow Caledonian University, UK
Michael Larkin University of Birmingham
© 2009   232 pages   SAGE Publications Ltd   
Complimentary Review Copy
Individual Purchasers
Paperback ISBN: 9781412908344 $61.00
Hardcover ISBN: 9781412908337 $137.00
Ebook ISBN: 9781446203897

'I have been using this book since it was published - recommending it to undergraduate and postgraduate students both as the definitive account of the IPA approach and as an accessible introduction to experiential qualitative research more broadly. The chapters on designing an IPA study, collecting and analysing data, and writing up an IPA study in particular are excellent...This book remains an invaluable addition to the toolkit of resources for teachers and students of qualitative research, and I thoroughly recommend it to both' -
Psychology: Learning and Teaching, Volume 9, Number 1

A important text with insightful and supportive tips to support researchers entering or continuing in the field of IPA.

Mrs Tracey Wornast

Early Childhood Studies, Canterbury Christ Church Univ.

Jul 23 2014

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A suitable text for postgraduates with previous experience and some theoretical grounding in research methods.

Dr Alastair Daniel

Faculty of Education, Winchester University

Jun 24 2014

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A clearly structured exposition of the IPA approach - essential theoretical grounding with practical guidance,

Dr Alastair Daniel

Faculty of Education, Winchester University

Jun 24 2014

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One of the few books on IPA, this is considered a definitive text. The case studies are fascinating and the techniques borrow heavily from literary theory. This is not adopted as the technique is not suitable for undergraduate students; we are currently using semi-structured interviews and case studies. This book is more suitable for postgraduate researchers. Still a fascinating book into a technique that deserves to be more widely used.

Mrs Udeni Salmon

Salford Business School, Salford University

Jun 11 2014

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This is a great book for anyone wanting to go down the qualitative research approach. it gives a clear, step by step approach from defining your area of interest, putting together your interview schedule to phenominological analysis. I would highly reccomend this book

Mrs Anita McGowan

Humanities , Croydon College

Jun 11 2014

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An excellent book on this area of reseach

Dr Maria Miklaucich

Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, Surrey University

Jun 05 2014

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More useful to experienced researchers but a good text.

Sue Horder

Education, Glyndwr University

May 21 2014

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Comprehensive guide written in an accessible style that will be very useful to students.

Mrs Sarah Watson

Criminology, Coventry University

Apr 22 2014

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an essential book for those considering using an IPA approach for their research.

Ms Louise Lawson

Dept of Nursing & Midwifery, Hertfordshire University

Mar 21 2014

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This was an excellent book. It will be suitable for some of my PPD 2 students but I will definately reccomend it to all my dissertation tutees followinf a qual approach.

Miss Jude Radford

Cardiff School of Health Sciences, Cardiff Metropolitan University

Feb 26 2014

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Really well explained methods

Ms Fiona Whelan-Ryan

Please select your department, Waterford Institute of Technology

Feb 18 2014

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Excellent text for professional doctorates dealing with coaching or psychotherapeutic issues. It will be used in the Project Proposal phase initially.

Dr Mehmet Ali Dikerdem

Interdiscipline , Middlesex University

Jan 20 2014

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Excellent introduction to IPA,clear and readable.

Mrs Martine Bird

Education , University college Birmingham

Nov 06 2013

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Excellent text for BSc and MSc level. Written in a manner that's easy to follow and apply.

Mrs Claire Marsh

Natural and Social Sciences, University of Gloucestershire

Nov 05 2013

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Very well organized book, clear understanding of what this type of research involves and also what is can not study. I like the description of its foundations (history), and the examples in the later chapters.

Dr Elisabeth Dorant

Fac: Health, Medicine & Life Sciences, Maastricht University

Nov 05 2013

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IPA became more clearer

Ms Ntombana Rala

Nursing Science, University of Fort Hare

Sep 23 2013

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This is THE book for students wanting to use IPA in their research.

Mr Ian Watson

School of Computing, Engineering & IS, Northumbria University

Sep 11 2013

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This is a must have text for anyone interested in IPA. It is clearly written and with a structure that allows readers to be guided through the complexity of this approach. Useful for masters and doctoral level students.

Mrs sally goldspink

Allied Health & Medicine, Anglia Ruskin University

Sep 11 2013

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A good text relevant to students wanting to gain a deeper understanding of interpretative phenomenology.

Ms Fiona Meddings

Health , Bradford University

Jun 17 2013

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very clear and helpfull introduction to theory and practice of IPA

Professor H. Kunneman

Graduate School, University of Humanistic Studies

Apr 12 2013

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This book is a very accessible introduction to IPA. The mix of theoretical background and practical support for researchers using the methodology makes it essential for anyone embarking on research using IPA.

Ms Becky Seale

Counselling, Coleg Sir Gar

Apr 11 2013

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The book is a valuable tool which I entirely recommend to all students and trainees at either Masters or Doctoral level in any area of health related topics. Although this books seems more suitable to counselling and psychotherapy practitioners, and covers some examples of psychological models, I believe it to be a valuable add on to any course covering other issues at all levels of study. In particular tutors are directed to the cleverly collected chapters on doing IP in Health and illness, Sex and sexuality, Psychological distress and Life transitions and identity. The chapters are fluid and contain the necessary information on how to conduct an IPA study. In my view the most valuable chapters are the ‘Planning an IAP study’ and ‘Collecting data’, since these lay down a necessary foundation into which a good IPA study will be based upon. In particular the book covers some of the rationales for using IPA above other methods of data analysis, and informs about the potential pitfalls and limitations with IPA. The book presents as a manual which welcomes even novice researchers, academic and clinicians to look at IPA from a tentative view point. I can see the immense usage and value within clinical practice, even using this method to analyse scripts within group therapy, from any modality, or even to use it as part of collaborative work with service-users. Although the book makes it explicit throughout, I feel that it may have been rushed through a bit that IPA is not a method of data collection, but a method of data analysis. I urge ‘IPAers’ to read through the book and find your own niche and approach. Whatever the methods of data collection and however, method you use to transcribe your interviews of focus groups, IPA will help you structure your thoughts and systematically find meaning behind your interpretations. The book also constructs IPA with clear example, which perhaps may be too narrow and not applicable to many IPA novices. Reading this I found it hard to conceptualise how I would do IPA with a completely different set of data, and made me think on how the book missed the opportunity to actually find common themes on IPA that can be used across any research/clinical field. The ‘writing IPA’ chapter is very small, perhaps fuelled by the unnecessary needs to overwhelm readers with this, as most articles will have to be written and adapted to particular journal requirements. However, this chapter cover the basics of structuring an article on IPA research. There’s two issues that I did not see in this book which I think are vital for a good IPA study. One relates to data analysis, and how a researcher will justify the themes used, plus the potential need to bring the themes back to participants for a consensus analysis (reliability and validity of IPA), if the sampling permits such approach. IPA takes an important position that although ‘interpretative’ it should not be biased towards the researcher; thus whenever possible, themes or subthemes should be presented to a sample of the participants, perhaps to those that gave material that gave origin to the themes, to evaluate their views on it. The other issue that I missed out in the book, was ‘data storage’. Although this varies across jurisdictions, there should be a core approach to storing IPA data, if this is requested for inspection or other researchers are challenged on the themes.

Dr Miguel Montenegro

Division of Clinical Psychology, Liverpool University

Mar 27 2013

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This IPA handbook will swiftly become the 'bible' for anyone embarking on this type of study and analysis. This book is really accessible and user friendly.

Miss Rebekah McNaughton

School of Health and Social Care, University of Teesside

Mar 26 2013

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This book on Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis is well written and will assist novice researchers with the methodology. It is highly recommended.

Mr Douglas Newman-Valentine

Sch of Health & Rehabilitation Science, University of Cape Town

Mar 25 2013

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Useful where students want to adopt IPA for data collection and analysis.

Mrs Jean Duckworth

Dept of Nursing, University of Central Lancashire

Feb 20 2013

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This book provides a comprehensive, clear explanation of interpretative phenomenological analysis. It takes a methodology that can be confusing to students and distills it into a simple, understandable process.

Dr Paula Dawidowicz

School Of Education, Walden University

Feb 19 2013

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Clear explanation of Research Approach, with credible sources and evidence.

Mrs Jackie Adamson

School of Computing, Engineering & IS, Northumbria University

Feb 18 2013

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I really like this book. Students struggle to find and make sense of IPA both philosophically and practically. This book provides a concise collection of information enabling the student to understand the principles, apply the processes in their research and analyse the data. I will be recommending it strongly.

Dr Carol Taylor

Health , Manchester Metropolitan University

Jan 25 2013

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an excellent useful text

Sarah Davies

Please select your department, Salford University

Jan 21 2013

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This is a fantastic book which is very well written. Unfortunately the narrowness of the subject matter has made it unsuitable for my students. however, it has provided me with many hours of interesting reading and indeed I have begun to use this research method in my own research.

Mr Eric Bates

School of Construction, Dublin Institute of Technology

Nov 09 2012

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Use this with students who are conducting IPA studies

Dr Kimberly Truong

Ed.D. Program, Northeastern University

Oct 23 2012

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Indispensable text for IPA. Recommended for those trainees who need detailed information on IPA.

Mr Pieter du Toit

Clinical Psychology, Essex University

Oct 08 2012

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A great text for students and established researchers alike who are starting to use IPA. The step-by-step guides and examples presented are particularly effective in consolidating the key concepts.

Dr Benjamin Gardner

Health Behaviour Research Centre, University College London

Aug 02 2012

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Really useful book if the researcher has chosen IPA. I like the way that the foundations behind IPA are explained which enables the reader to make an informed choice with regard to this method and assess suitability of it for the particular piece of research being undertaken. I would consider that this book will be useful for students who wish to know more about IPA and more experienced researchers who wish to consider it.

Ms Michelle Evans

Faculty of Health and Social Care, London South Bank University

Jul 30 2012

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An insightful book for anyone undertaking Qualitative research. Displays a clear link of the theories which underpin this particular type of research and the similarities and differences of both the theorists and methods which can be applied. A must for any serious qualitative researcher

Mr Mark Timoney

Humanities , Sligo Institute of Technology

May 28 2012

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Very clear intro. The backbone of IPA is explained with good coverage in chapters 1-6, 11-12. IPA is a challenging method to use in bachelor's studies, but smaller studies can be attempted with the kind of guidance found in this book.

Ms Elizabeth San Miguel

Business Administration , HAAGA-HELIA University of Applied Scie

May 25 2012

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Course suspended

Dr Christopher Wibberley

Sch of Health, Psychology & Soc Care, Manchester Metropolitan University

May 18 2012

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A number of postgraduate students have expressed an interest in IPA recently, this text allows them and me some definitive reading re this approach to research - although I am still not certain as to how it differs significantly from generic qualitative research.

Dr Christopher Wibberley

Dept of Health Care Studies, Manchester Metropolitan University

May 18 2012

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This is a great book for anyone wanting to go down the qualitative research approach. it gives a clear, step by step approach from defining your area of interest, putting together your interview schedule to phenominological analysis. I would highly reccomend this book.

Ms Kirsten Stevens-Wood

Please select your department, Ystrad Mynach College

Mar 12 2012

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It gives a good overview of IPA which is at the right level for our students.

Dr Anita Slade

faculty of health, education and society, University of Plymouth

Feb 27 2012

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Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis Theory, Method and Research Jonathan A. Smith, Paul Flowers & Michael Larkin 2010 Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) consists of 13 chapters contained within three sections. Section (A) ‘Doing IPA: Theory and methods’ outlines the historical and philosophical context as well as the theoretical underpinnings of phenomenology. Section (A) describes the different phases involved in undertaking an IPA study such as: Planning an IPA research study, data collection, analysis, and the write up phase. Section (B) presents examples of IPA research projects which provide different ways of using IPA within the social sciences. Section (C) discusses issues in relation to validity of the IPA approach in relation to other qualitative research methods. The final chapter (13) provides a summary of what was covered in each chapter and asks reflective questions about what expectations researchers might have for the future direction of the IPA approach to qualitative enquiry. This book has been written for anyone undertaking a phenomenological approach to research projects. The text introduces the reader to complex theoretical research based topics in accessible language for both undergraduate, postgraduate students and experienced researchers designing qualitative research within the social sciences. The book is recommended as essential reading for students and researchers who are looking for a framed approached to qualitative research.

Mr Gary McKenna

School of Computing, University of the West of Scotland

Feb 11 2012

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Fundamental as a core text for this programme for students undertaking dissertations. IPA as a concept fits the epistemological and ontological philosophies of the programme.

Mr Graham Bright

University Centre, Darlington College

Feb 05 2012

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This book is a great guide to interpretative research and one that offers a great deal of depth to the area. I will reccommned this book to my students

Dr Carol Fuller

Institute of Education, Reading University

Dec 21 2011

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A very clear, interesting introduction suitable for more advanced students of qualitative methods - I'll be recommending this on masters modules.

Dr sarah spencer

Dept of Human Communication Sciences, Sheffield University

Dec 19 2011

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This is an innovative and readable book, to be read and re-read. It covers all important issues with regards to interpretative phenomenological analysis, an approach to qualitative research. I am sure that my students will find the book useful. There is very little written on the topic. Also, there is a lot of confusion about the IPA. And that makes it hard for budding researchers to understand the approach. Indeed, this is a brilliant, well written textbook.

Mrs Vicky Mayer

Faculty of Health, University of Cumbria

Dec 09 2011

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This is a clear and useful book.

Dr Karen Ciclitira

School of Psychology, Middlesex University

Nov 15 2011

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An essential text for those students considering using IPA in their dissertation research

Ms Shona Neal

Counselor Education , Keele University

Nov 12 2011

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The best introduction to IPA that I have come across so far, but not quite suitable for this module. I have recommended adoption for other, more research focused modules, however.

Dr Scott Yates

Division of Youth & Community, De Montfort University

Oct 28 2011

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The best introduction to IPA that I have come across so far

Dr Scott Yates

Division of Youth & Community, De Montfort University

Oct 28 2011

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The best introduction to IPA I have come across so far.

Dr Scott Yates

Division of Youth & Community, De Montfort University

Oct 28 2011

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This book provides coverage of key issues in designing and undertaking IPA research. The inclusion of example research studies alongside guidelines on 'how to do IPA' is particularly useful. It is written in a very accessible style.

Dr Helen Stivaros

Psychology , Gloucestershire University

Oct 16 2011

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This is an excellent book for students and researchers wishing to undertake an IPA study. The text is clear and concise and provides useful working examples for each chapter.

Mr stephen whattam

Sociology, university of bradford

Sep 27 2011

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Excellent book written in an accessible style.

Ms Sandy Walker

Faculty of Medicine, Health & Life Sci, Southampton University

Sep 22 2011

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Phenonenological research is becoming more relevant to our students, and this text is really useful for enabling them to engage with it at a high level

Dr Brid Connolly

Department of adult and community education , National University

Sep 12 2011

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A useful text for my students to understand the basics of IP as a methodology, but will not be required to master it, hence the recommendation of supplemental

Dr Brian Nyatanga

Nursing , Worcester University

Aug 18 2011

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The most informative book which I have so far read on the subject - vital reading for any under or post graduate student planning to use IPA as part of their overall data analysis. The application of working examples to outline each chapter makes the book invaluable reference material.

Mrs Fiona Porter

Dept of Social Sciences & Humanities, Bradford University

Jul 12 2011

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An excellent book. Describes concepts clearly and gives clear instruction as to the method of IPA - really grateful for the publication.

Ms Carol Hughes

Counselling, Swansea Metropolitan University

Jun 30 2011

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An excellent book to teach with. Clear and accessibly written

Dr Judith Marshall

Psychology , Trinity College Carmarthen

May 11 2011

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This book will be a useful reference resource for students who are interested in or are embarking on a phenomenological study. The examples given within the chapters are very useful application tools.

Ms Jane Harris

Midwifery and Reproductive Health, Universtity of Chester

Apr 11 2011

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This book is essential reading material for anybody considering using IPA as a research tool. It has many strengths,and it covers the many areas that any researcher needs to think about when embarking on a phenomenological investigation.

Dr Dario Pellegrini

Child and Family, Tavistock Centre

Feb 05 2011

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It helps students to understand this relatively new research method.

Dr Thomas Henschel

Accounting , Edinburgh Napier University

Feb 02 2011

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very clearly laid out, good introduction for students new to the topic

Dr Eike Adams

Health , Oxford Brookes University

Jan 31 2011

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Although aimed primarily at psychologists this text also has great value as a 'how to' guide that can be safely recommended to sociology students undertaking final year dissertation research. Indeed, it is increasingly the case that sociology students find that the most appealing form of investigation to undertake is an interpretative phenomenological analysis, but up until now there hasn't been a book of this calbre to direct them towards. Clearly written, appropriately structured and nicely succinct Smith, Flowers and Larkin has now become the book I recommend above any other to my students. If I have a suggestion for improvement it is that the theoretical foundations section be expanded to include the theorising of Alfred Schutz, whose work I believe to be highly germane to this field and whose inclusion would afford the book a more ready appeal to those active in the social research arena beyond psychology.

Dr William Gisby

Sociology , University of Birmingham

Nov 30 2010

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A superb book. The text provides clarity and instruction to those undertaking an IPA study. The book will also be helpful to students attempting to understand phenomenology.

Mr David Coyle

Nursing , Chester University

Nov 03 2010

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Highly recommended as a good introduction to Interpretative Phenomenological analysis.

Ms Michelle Walters

School of Health Nursing & Midwifery, University of the West of Scotland

Oct 11 2010

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Essential book for students contempleting working with IPA. It complements previous work on the method and it takes a more philosophical stance.

Dr Dora Brown

Department of Psychology, Surrey University

Oct 04 2010

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This is book should be very good for MBA and MSc dissertation as it covers the key methodological issues in Phenomenological analysis and qualitative research Dr Tony Nwanji

Professor Tony Nwanji

Holborn Business School, Holborn College

Oct 03 2010

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An excellent, comprehensive insight into IPA. Excellence recourse for undergraduate and postgradaute students.

Dr Ross Wadey

School of Human and Life Sciences, Roehampton University

Sep 30 2010

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This is one of the best books on the topic that I have ever read. However, as the current currently course focuses qualitative methods, this book, although excellent, is too much too off-topic. If I was more in charge of the contents of the course, which I, sadly, isn't, I would really consider this an alternative.

Mr Stefan Björk

Department of Psychology, Umea University

Sep 16 2010

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This is an excellent text for any students wishing to follow this methodology. The text talks you through the theory behind IPA and provides easy to follow recommendations on how to complete the various stages invovled in this analysis. The text is written in an easy to follow manner and I am sure it will be very useful as a handbook for using IPA.

Mr Keith Parry

School of Services Management, Bournemouth University

Sep 14 2010

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This is the 'bible' for all students/researchers using this qualitative methodology-simply brilliant!

Dr Glynis Van Der Hoek

Dept of Psychology (Mickleover Cps), Derby University

Sep 10 2010

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An excellent and simple yet in-depth account of the IPA approach. Suitable for both undergraduate and postgraduate study, this book provides an essential text for anyone wishing to understand more about IPA both from a beginners perspective and for the more advanced analyst.

Dr Joe Hinds

Psychology, Society & Politics, Sheffield Hallam University

Aug 10 2010

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With so many counselling psychology trainees and other psychotherapy students using IPA for their masters and doctoral research, this book is a very welcome addition the Jonathan Smith stable.

Ms Jill Mytton

New School, New School of Psychotherapy and Counselling

Aug 01 2010

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Dr Tina Gambling

School of healthcare Studies Department of Radiography, Cardiff University

Jul 12 2010

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This is an excellent book. I have actually started recommending it to some of my dissertation students who are using IPA as I think that this will be appropriate supplementary reading for them.

Dr Claire Bloxsom

Division of Psychology, Nottingham Trent University

Mar 11 2010

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I recommend this book to students undertaking phenomenological research

Patricia Warren

Dept of Nursing, University College Cork (NUI)

Mar 11 2010

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Supplemental for my undergraduates, will be recommended for my postgraduate once begin advanced research methods for Masters students next academic year

Mr Gavin Weedon

Business, Sport and Enterprise, Southampton Solent University

Feb 25 2010

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A clearly structured and highly readable guide to IPA. I can see that this could be used by novice researchers to enable them to plan and conduct an IPA study. The text is liberally illustrated by helpful examples and Section B, the examples of IPA studies, is very well detailed and explained.

Dr Maria Fitzgerald

Faculty of Health, London South Bank University

Feb 11 2010

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A useful and interesting book - I will be recommending it from September 2010.

Mrs Annie Ostapenko-Denton

Community Studies, Truro College

Feb 10 2010

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Our training programme has seen a significant increase in the number of students pursuing qualitative methodologies for their doctoral research projects. This book is recognised as a primary source of expertise. I have found it to be clear and right at the cutting edge of IPA.

Dr Tim Prescott

Clinical Psychology Doctorate, Teesside University

Jan 13 2010

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This is an essential book for anyone planning an IPA study. It will also proof useful for students who are considering qualitative methodology or those on Research Methods courses. I will expect all my potential IPA students to purchase this book. There are 10 students in each cohort and I predict that at least 3 per year would use IPA for their thesis

Dr Zach De Beer

School of Health & Human Sciences, Essex University

Nov 27 2009

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This text will be invaluble to all students attempting to read, understand and critically appraise phenomenological research. A highly readable text.

Dr Sheila Greatrex-White

Nursing , Nottingham University

Nov 18 2009

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A really useful text - for both students and researchers. A colleague has borrowed it already!

Heather Buchanan

I-WHO, Nottingham University

Nov 13 2009

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Excellet addition to our methodology list

Dr Elaine Cox

Business Administration , Oxford Brookes University

Nov 12 2009

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Nicely written, very explanatory and well structured.

Ms Mary E. Gannon

Nursing , National University of Ireland, Galway

Nov 12 2009

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This is a comprehensive text which provides in-depth discussion and guidance for students and researchers using IPA. Students and resaerchers interested in phenomenological approaches will find this text useful.

Dr Lee Price

School of Health Professions, University of Brighton

Nov 12 2009

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very good book and i think in particular it will be very good for dissertation students who are undertaking a reasearch project using this analysis.

Dr Tammi Walker

Psychology , Bradford University

Oct 16 2009

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This book is essential for every student who intends to use IPA in their research

Ms Pnina Shinebourne

Psychology , Schiller International University

Sep 29 2009

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Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis

Theory, Method and Research

Jonathan A Smith Birkbeck College
Paul Flowers Glasgow Caledonian University, UK
Michael Larkin University of Birmingham
© 2009   232 pages   SAGE Publications Ltd  

Available Formats

ISBN:   9781412908344 Paperback Suggested Retail Price:   $61.00 Bookstore Price:   $48.80
ISBN:   9781412908337 Hardcover Suggested Retail Price:   $137.00 Bookstore Price:   $109.60
ISBN:   9781446203897 Ebook Suggested Retail Price:   $61.00 Bookstore Price:   $48.80

About This Title

"'It is not often I can use "accessible" and "phenomenology" in the same sentence, but reading the new book, Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis…certainly provides me the occasion to do so. I can say this because these authors provide an engaging and clear introduction to a relatively new analytical approach"
--The Weekly Qualitative Report

This book presents a comprehensive guide to interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) which is an increasingly popular approach to qualitative inquiry taught to undergraduate and postgraduate students today.

The first chapter outlines the theoretical foundations for IPA. It discusses phenomenology, hermeneutics, and idiography and how they have been taken up by IPA. The next four chapters provide detailed, step by step guidelines to conducting IPA research: study design, data collection and interviewing, data analysis, and writing up. In the next section, the authors give extended worked examples from their own studies in health, sexuality, psychological distress, and identity to illustrate the breadth and depth of IPA research. Each of these chapters also offers a guide to other good exemplars of IPA research in the designated area. The final section of the book considers how IPA connects with other contemporary qualitative approaches like discourse and narrative analysis and how it addresses issues to do with validity.

The book is written in an accessible style and will be extremely useful to students and researchers in psychology and related disciplines in the health and social sciences.

Should you need additional information or have questions regarding the HEOA information provided for this title, including what is new to this edition, please email Please include your name, contact information, and the name of the title for which you would like more information. For information on the HEOA, please go to

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