Obtaining large-scale funding for empowerment-oriented qualitative research: A report from personal experience

Deborah K. Padgett, Benjamin F. Henwood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Obtaining funding for qualitative research remains a challenge despite greater openness to methodological pluralism. Such hurdles are presumably compounded when the proposed study employs empowerment theory, rendering it susceptible to charges of elevating ideology over rigor. This article draws on the authors' experience in securing large-scale funding for an empowerment-oriented qualitative study of homeless mentally ill adults. Lessons learned include the importance of weaving empowerment theory into the proposal's "argument," and infusing empowerment values into study protocols while simultaneously paying close attention to rigorous and transparent methods. Additional benefits accrue from having prior relationships with study sites and being willing to revise and resubmit proposals whenever possible. Though representing a fraction of all externally funded projects in the United States, qualitative research has tremendous untapped potential for success in this competitive arena - success that need not entail surrendering a commitment to empowerment values.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)868-874
Number of pages7
JournalQualitative Health Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - May 25 2009



  • Empowerment
  • General
  • Homelessness
  • Mental health and illness
  • Qualitative methods

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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