The method used is determined by the type of study design. Designs are often based on theoretical or philosophical perspectives on the topic, and dictated by the research question. An attempt is made to have the data represent the wholeness of the individuals subjective experience rather than reduce to distinct variables.
Qualitative designs are less structured than quantitative designs.
PURPOSES FOR QUALITATIVE DESIGNS
Methods of data collection: Non numerical data is collected via
interviews, observational methods, analysis of written diaries, collecting
artifacts, and other related methods. Methods are generally more subjective
in nature as the investigator seeks the participants view of phenomenon
of interest or description of experiences.
Theoretical Sampling – Researcher collects, codes and analyzes
data and then decides what data to collect in order to develop grounded
Sample size is determined by generated data and analysis of data.
Collection and analysis continues until categories are saturated and only
thin areas exist between categories. Numbers of participants in qualitative
research are not based on a normal distribution, nor is a randomized or
representative sample used. Participants are added until saturation
occurs, and then data collection terminates. Saturation
occurs when no new descriptions and interpretations are coming from study
Trustworthiness – gained by multiple data gathers, triangulation,
saturation, member checks, reflexivity, audit trail and peer debriefing.
Interviews can be guided by a developed list of topics,
or an open ended questionnaire administered by skilled interviewers. Skilled
interviewer can probe subject’s responses thus decreasing possibility of
vague answers. Mock interviews may occur before beginning study so proficiency
in note taking and questioning can be developed. We ask groups doing
qualitative proposals to write up one or more brief mock interviews to
flesh out the method section of the proposal.
Audio and video recordings are used to enhance interview.
Must consider interviewer and interviewee sensitivity to equipment. Must
get permission before taping. It is necessary to review and transcribe
tapes simultaneously to determine analytical categories, subsequent data
collection and any follow up questions.
Observation is used in ethnographic research. Directly
observe participants in natural settings and participate in their lifestyles.
|Due to active role in research process, those studied often are called informants, respondents or participants rather than subjects.|
The researcher is the primary study "instrument". This design
directs the researcher toward an understanding of self as person as well
as the participant as a person. [Heideggerian phenomenologists (existentialists)
believe the person is a self within a body. Husserlian phenomenologists
believe while self and world are mutually shaping, it is possible to bracket
oneself from one’s belief, to see the world firsthand in a naïve way.]
Broad question asked is "What is the meaning of one’s lived experience?"
Only reliable source of information for this question is the person (informant,
participant). Thus, person interprets action or experience for researcher
and then, researcher must interpret explanation provided by the person.
Prior to collecting data, researcher conducts a reflective self assessment
and articulates assumptions, knowledge, and ideas they bring to the research
project. This is the researcher's way of dealing with thier own bias.
Data are collected through variety of means: observation, interactive interviews, videotape, and written descriptions by subjects.
Analysis begins when the first data are collected and will guide decisions
related to further data collection.
Outcome of analysis is a theoretical statement responding to the research
Examples of data [often direct quotes from informants] validate theoretical
Means that the theory developed from research is "grounded" or has its
roots in data from which it was derived. It is used frequently to
study areas in which little previous research has been conducted and in
gaining a new viewpoint in familiar areas of research.
Based on symbolic interaction theory which holds views in common with phenomenology.
Researcher goes into the field to view the world as informants do. Focus
on interaction under study.
Explores how people define reality and how their beliefs are related
to their actions. Reality is created by people through attaching meanings
to situations. Meaning is expressed in terms of symbols such as words,
religious objects, and clothing. These symbolic meanings are the basis
for actions and interactions. As these meanings are different for each
individual; cannot completely know symbolic meanings of another individual.
Group life based on consensus and shared meanings. Interaction may lead to redefinition and new meanings and can result in redefinition of self.
Interaction is focus of observation in grounded theory research.
Data for Grounded Theory is generated from participant observation,
informal interviewing and formal interviewing. Usually results in large
amounts of handwritten notes and/or typed interview transcripts which contain
data to be sorted and anlyzed. The process is initiated by coding and categorizing
Steps in grounded theory research occur simultaneously. Researcher observes,
collects data, organizes data, and forms theory all at same time. This
is a constant comparative
Process where every piece of data is compared with every other piece.
At the beginning general questions are asked. As the theory begins to
emerge, the researcher asks more specific questions to elicit information
needed to saturate developing codes and categories.
Grounded theory examines much broader scope of dimensions than usually
possible with quantitative research. Can allow for greater understanding
and thus more control of professional practice.
Ethnographic means "portrait of people."
Purpose is to describe a culture through examining various cultural
Data collection or data gathering techniques include; participant observation
Participant observation – described previously.
Field plus personal notes are written as investigator interacts with
culture under study. Interaction between researcher and informants becomes
source of data.
Two basic research approaches in ethnography; emic and etic.
Interviews are done with an attempt to obtain the emic (internal) view.
Other sources of data for ethnographic research include documents, life
history, films, photographs and artifacts. No analysis of data is made
at this point.
Analysis involves identifying meanings attributed to objects and events
by members of the culture.
Research data sources are retrospective. Primary question is "Where have we come from, who are we, where are we going?"
Although questions do not change, answers do.
Most ancient form of history is Myth.
Provides an image of and legitimizes existing order
History moved beyond myths to chronicling of events such as great deeds,
victories, and stories about peoples. Descriptions blurred distinction
between real and ideal.
Then moved to comparing histories, selecting histories based on values,
identifying patters of regularity and change.
More recently, there has been a move to interpretive history, an effort
to make sense out of it, to search for meaning.
Methods of historical research includes:
Quality of historical study is related to quality of archival retrieval of primary sources. Primary and secondary sources are used. Validity and reliability of sources are crucial to levels of generalizations generated as findings of the study.
Data sources – libraries, historical societies, museums, and archives.