Twitter icon

Recipients of the 'Joan Eakin Award for Methodological Excellence in a Qualitative Doctoral Dissertation'


The 2016-17 Award was given to Dr. Julia Gray for her excellent qualitative doctoral thesis entitled "An aesthetic of relationality: exploring the intersection of embodiment, imagination and foolishness in research-informed theatre", which she completed in the Department of Leadership, Higher and Adult Education at OISE. Julia's thesis committee members were Dr. Pia Kontos (supervisor), Dr. Bonnie Burstow, and Dr. Tara Goldstein

The Awards Commitee made the following remarks about Julia's submission: This is a lyrical, beautifully written and deeply embodied piece of work. Working against an ‘aesthetic of objectivity’ that often dominates the ways in which theatre and research intersect, it is refreshingly different to anything we’ve ever read. Centering an aesthetic of relationality, the thesis is a theorization, a study in and an integrated ethics of reflexivity. Like a double hermeneutic, it makes clear that reflexivity is a foundational concept in critical theoretically-informed work and the raison d’etre of CQ.  Encouraging us to be bold, fearless, and radical in our goals for transformation, it offers a new way of thinking about ‘foolishness’, failure, and risk-taking. We are reminded that to be a critical qualitative researcher you must risk playing the fool.”

Pictured below (left to right): Dr. Julia Gray, Dr. Pia Kontos (Supervisor), Dr. Joan Eakin 

The Honorable Mention went to Dr. Gail Teachman, who graduated from the Rehabilitation Science Institute (RSI), for her thesis “Interrogating inclusion: Critical research with disabled youth who use augmentative and alternative communication.” Gail’s thesis committee members were Dr. Barbara Gibson (co-supervisor), Dr. Colin Macarthur (co-supervisor), and Dr. Peggy McDonough. 

The Awards Committee’s comments on Gail's work included: “This thesis is theoretically sound, cohesive, crisp, and critical.  The methodological tools and strategies have impact beyond the substantive findings. We especially appreciate the interrogation of commonly held assumptions about communication and communicators. This provides new methodological strategies for understanding and expanding knowledge of authentic communication.”

Pictured below (left to right): Dr. Barbara Gibson (Supervisor); Dr. Joan Eakin; Dr. Gail Teachman; Dr. Corinne Heart (Award Committee)


The 2015-16 Award was given to Dr. Jijian Voronka for her excellent qualitative doctoral thesis entitled "Troubling Inclusion: The politics of peer work and ‘people with lived experience’ in mental health interventions", which she completed in the Department of Social Justice Education at OISE. Jijian's thesis committee members were Dr. Sherene Razack (supervisor), Dr. Kimberley White and Dr. Kari Dehli.

The Awards Commitee made the following remarks about Jijian's submission: “Jijian’s submission is unique in that it seamlessly and skillfully blends autoethnography, critical theory, Foucault, and genealogy with the substantive field of ‘mad studies’, a term which is a resistance and a counter discourse to the dominant mental health/illness discourse. Jijian’s thesis is a creative, reflexive and inherently critical work. This thesis epitomizes critical scholarship; it challenges key notions, concepts, and ideas about the field of 'mental illness' and challenges the very notion of it with a new one - 'madness'. Theory and methodology are integrated throughout this thesis to create a coherent whole. Jijian’s thesis is an exercise in critical reflexivity; she offers a critical take on epistemology and seamlessly situates herself in her work.”

Pictured below (left to right): Joan Eakin, Jijian Vorokna and Janet Parsons (Award Committee)



The 2014-15 Award was given to Dr. Coralee McLaren for the outstanding work she did for her qualitative doctoral thesis, entitled "Dancing-Bodies-Moving-Spaces: An Ethnography of Disabled and Non-disabled Children’s Movement in a Kindergarten Classroom," which she completed in the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing. Coralee's thesis committee members were Dr. Pat McKeever (supervisor), Dr. Geoffrey Edwards, Dr. Susan Ruddick, Dr. Tom Chau and Dr. Karl Zabjek.

The Awards Committee made the following comments about Coralee's submission: “Coralee’s thesis is a brilliant piece of work. Coralee creatively integrated metaphor; her work is lyrical, artfully written and presented. Coralee seamlessly merged health research, social science and the humanities. This dissertation was theoretically and methodologically congruent; it embodies the principles and integrity of CQ.”

The Honorable Mention went to Dr. Maki Iwase, who graduated from the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, for her thesis “The Social Effects of Gestational Diabetes in ‘High-risk ethnic groups’.” Maki’s thesis committee members were Dr. Sioban Nelson (supervisor), Dr. Ping-Chun Hsiung and Dr. Lorna Weir.

The Awards Committee’s comments on Maki’s work included: “A solid dissertation; this work is theoretically and methodologically coherent, well researched, integrative and consistent, and showed great attention to reflexivity, rigour and trustworthiness.”

We invite everyone to read Coralee and Maki's work, which is available on the University of Toronto’s T-Space at the following link:

Coralee McLaren's thesis
Maki Iwase's thesis

Pictured below (left to right): Coralee McLaren, Joan Eakin and Maki Iwase









The 2013-14 Award was given to Dr. Craig Dale for the exemplary methodological/theoretical work he did for his thesis in the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, entitled “Locating Critical Care Nurses in Mouth Care: An Institutional Ethnography.” Craig’s thesis committee members were Dr. Jan Angus (supervisor), Dr. Eric Mykhalovskiy and Dr. Taz Sinuff.

The Awards Committee made the following comments about Craig’s submission: “This thesis was innovative, taking what is, on the surface, a small aspect of care and problematizing it to show wider implications. The dissertation was methodologically and theoretically strong, cohesive with consistent links between the theoretical lens and methodology (including data collection and analysis strategies), and demonstrated reflexivity and attention to rigour.”

The Honorable Mention went to Dr. Sarah Sanford who graduated from the Dalla Lana School of Public Health for her thesis “Integrating Pandemic through Preparedness: Global Security and the Utility of Threat.” Sarah’s thesis committee members were Dr. Peggy McDonough (supervisor), Dr. Ann Robertson, and Dr. Jessica Polzer.

The Awards Committee’s comments on Sarah’s work included: “Coherent and methodologically very strong – methods flowed logically from the theoretical framing; nice linking between critical discourse analysis and theoretical framework.”

We invite everyone to read Craig and Sarah's work, which is available on the University of Toronto’s T-Space at the following links:
Craig Dale's thesis
Sarah Sanford's thesis


The 2011-12 Award was given to Dr. Ann Fudge Schormans  for the superlative methodological/theoretical work she did for her thesis in the University of Toronto’s Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work:  "The Right or Responsibility of Inspection: Social Work, Photography, and People with Intellectual Disabilities". 

The Awards Committee made the choice from a very crowded field of excellent submissions, summarizing their rationale for selecting Ann’s research with these notes: “Beautifully written; creative methodology that was very integrated; excellent use of theory that was embedded throughout the thesis; author's voice was present without taking over; respectful and thoughtful tone regarding participants; an important piece of work; clear to reader how methods could be transferred to other similar contexts; elegantly written with nothing extraneous; readers found it unsettling, empowering, transformative; reviewers learned a lot from the thesis, it made them think differently; they wanted to read the entire thesis; it was a pleasure to read.” Ann will be presenting some of this work at a CQ Speakers Series seminar in early fall.
The Honorable Mention went to Dr. Maria Athina Martimianakis of OISE-UT’s Department of Theory and Policy Studies, for her thesis: "Discourse, Governance and Subjectivity: Interdisciplinarity and Knowledge-Making in Engineering and in Medicine". 
The Award Committee’s notes on Tina’s work included: “very interesting use of methodology; consistent; outstanding; timely/relevant; in keeping with CQ ideals - critical, problematizing what is taken for granted or what has become normal.”
We invite everyone to read these theses, which are available on the University of Toronto’s T-Space at the following links:
Ann Fudge Schormans' thesis
Maria Athina Martimianakis' thesis
We also wish to congratulate the other three top finalists whose theses were described by the reviewers as "sound, clearly met award criteria, instructive, well-written and creative": Josephine Wong and Esther Ignani (Dalla Lana School of Public Health) and Laurie Clune (Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing).


The innaugural winner was Dr. Brenda Gladstone, graduate of the Social Science and Health doctoral program in the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, for her thesis entitled “All in the Same Boat”: An Analysis of a Support Group for Children of Parents with Mental Illnesses.” 

Brenda Gladstone is a health sociologist with a PhD from the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto.  For her doctoral work she used ethnographic observations, informal interviews and critical discourse analysis to examine participants’ responses to a psychoeducational support group for children of parents with mental illnesses.  In her research capacity at SickKids she uses theoretically informed qualitative and arts-based methodologies in CIHR- and SSHRC- funded studies to investigate help-seeking pathways to mental health care from the perspective of young people experiencing, or ‘at ultra high-risk’ of psychosis.  Brenda is Adjunct Lecturer in the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing at the University of Toronto where she teaches graduate courses in qualitative methodology at the Centre for Critical Qualitative Health Research.

Honourable mention went to Dr. Paula Gardner, graduate of the Health and Behavioural Science doctoral program at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, for her thesis entitled “The Public Life of Older People: Neighbourhoods and Networks.” 

We invite everyone to read Brenda and Paula's work, which is available on the University of Toronto’s T-Space at the following links:

Brenda Gladstone's thesis
Paula Gardner's thesis