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in a journal every day instills a habit of mind
which can only help in the writing of the final
research report.
In beginning the reflexive journal, regardless
of the project, it is always useful to supply all
the basic descriptive data in each entry. Infor
mation such as the date, time, place, partici
pants, and any other descriptive information
should be registered in order to provide accu
racy in reporting later in the study. Especially
in long term qualitative projects, the specific
evidence which locates members and activities
of the project can become most useful in the
final analysis and interpretation of the research
findings. Now let us turn to the history of the
reflexive journal and the creation of a reflexive
journal, which are also critical aspects of the
journaling process.
Journal writing began from a need to tell a
story. Famous journal writers throughout his
tory have provided us with eminent examples
and various categories of journals (Progoff
1992). Some types of journal writing can be
viewed from the perspective of chronicler, tra
veler, creator, apologist, confessor, or prisoner,
as Mallon (1995) describes. No matter what
orientation taken by the reflexive journal wri
ter, it is generally agreed that reflexive journal
writing is utilized for providing clarity, orga
nizing ones thoughts and feelings, and for
achieving understanding. Thus the social
science researcher has a valuable tool in reflex
ive journal writing.
While journal writing has its seeds in psy
chology, sociology, and history, one can rely on
understanding the use of the journal from social
psychology and the symbolic interactionists. In
addition, what Denzin (1989) calls interpretive
interactionism is a useful tool for understand
ing the reflexive journal. Symbolic interaction
ists have historically argued that we all give
meaning to the symbols we encounter in inter
acting with one another. Interpretive interac
tionists go a step further in that the act of
interpretation is a communication act with one
or more interactors. For the journal writer, one
is interacting with ones self in a sense.
Basically, the art of journal writing and sub
sequent interpretations of journal writing pro
duce meaning and understanding which are
shaped by genre, the narrative form used, and
personal cultural and paradigmatic conventions
of the writer, who is either the researcher,
participant, and/or co researcher. As Progoff
(1992) notes, journal writing is ultimately a
way of getting feedback from ourselves. In so
doing, it enables us to experience in a full and
open ended way the movement of our lives as a
whole and the meaning that follows from
reflecting on that movement.
One might ask, why should one invest the
time in journal writing? Journal writing allows
one to reflect, to dig deeper into the heart of the
words, beliefs, and behaviors we describe in our
journals. The act of writing down ones thoughts
will allow for stepping into ones inner mind and
reaching further for clarity and interpretations of
the behaviors, beliefs, and words we write. Jour
nal writing also allows for training the writer as a
researcher in writing about a research project in
progress. The journal becomes a tool for training
the research instrument, the person. Since qua
litative social science relies heavily on the
researcher as research instrument, journal writ
ing can only assist researchers in reaching their
goals in any given project.

SEE ALSO: Biography; Culture; Education;
Life History; Methods


Denzin, N. K. (1989) Interpretive Biography. Sage,
Newbury Park, CA.
Janesick, V. (2004) Stretching Exercises for Qualitative
Researchers, 2nd edn. Sage, Thousand Oaks, CA.
Mallon, T. (1995) A Book of Ones Own: People and
their Diaries. Hungry Mind Press, Saint Paul, MN.
Progoff, I. (1992) At a Journal Workshop: Writing to
Access the Power of the Unconscious and Evoke
Creative Ability. J. P. Tarcher, Los Angeles.


Abraham D. Lavender

Judaism is one of the worlds oldest religions,
characterized by a belief in one God (mono
theism), a belief that the Torah is the source of
divine knowledge and law, and that the Jews,