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What is Qualitative Research?


Ethnography Field Work Key Informants Thick description Emic (insider group perspective) and Etic (researcher s interpretation of social life). – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: What is Qualitative Research?

What is Qualitative Research?
  • A holistic approach to questions--a recognition
    that human realities are complex. Broad
  • The focus is on human experience
  • The research strategies used generally feature
    sustained contact with people in settings where
    those people normally spend their time. Contexts
    of Human Behavior.

Qualitative Research cont.
  • There is typically a high level of researcher
    involvement with subjects strategies of
    participant observation and in-depth,
    unstructured interviews are often used.
  • The data produced provide a description, usually
    narrative, of people living through events in
  • Cited from Boyd, pp. 67-68 in Munhall, 2001

Types of Qualitative Data
  • 1. Interviews
  • 2. Observations
  • 3. Documents

Types of Qualitative Data
  • 1. Interviews
  • Open-ended questions and probes yield in-depth
    responses about peoples experiences, opinions,
    perceptions, feelings and knowledge.
  • Data consist of verbatim quotations with
    sufficient context to be interpretable.

Types of Qualitative Data cont.
  • 2. Observations
  • Fieldwork descriptions of activities, behaviors,
    actions, conversations, interpersonal
    interactions, organizational or community
    processes, or any other aspect of observable
    human experience.
  • Data consist of field notes rich detailed
    descriptions, including the context within which
    the observations were made.

Types of Qualitative Data cont.
  • 3. Documents
  • Written materials and other documents, programs
    records memoranda and correspondence official
    publications and reports personal diaries,
    letters, artistic works, photographs, and
    memorabilia and written responses to open-ended
  • Data consists of excerpts from documents captured
    in a way that records and preserves context.

Qualitative Traditions of Inquiry
  • 1. Biography--Life history, oral
  • history
  • 2. Phenomenology--The lived experience
  • 3. Grounded theory
  • 4. Ethnography
  • 5. Case Study

Biographical Study
  • The study of an individual and her or his
    experiences as told to the researcher or found in
    documents and archival material.
  • Life history--The study of an individuals life
    and how it reflects cultural themes of the

Biographical Study cont.
  • Oral history--The researcher gathers personal
    recollections of events, their causes, and their
    effects from and individual or several
  • The researcher needs to collect extensive
    information about the subject of the biography

Biographical Study cont.
  • The writer, using an interpretive approach, needs
    to be able to bring himself or herself into the
    narrative and acknowledge his or her standpoint.

  • Describes the meaning of the lived experience
    about a concept or a phenomenon for several
  • It has roots in the philosophical perspectives of
    Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, etc.
  • --Max Van Manen, Munhall (Nursing)

  • Moustakas, 1994, p. 13 to determine what an
    experience means for the persons who have had the
    experience and are able to provide a
    comprehensive description of it. From the
    individual descriptions, general or universal
    meanings are derived, in other words, the
    essences of structures of the experience.

Grounded Theory
  • Based on Symbolic Interactionism which posits
    that humans act and interact on the basis of
    symbols, which have meaning and value for the

Grounded Theory cont.
  • The intent of grounded theory is to generate or
    discover a theory that relates to a particular
    situation. If little is known about a topic,
    grounded theory is especially useful

Grounded Theory cont.
  • Usually have a question, dont do
  • a literature review in the beginning.
  • Usually do 20-30 interviews
  • (maybe more than one time for each person)

Grounded Theory cont.
  • Data collection and analysis occur
    simultaneously, until saturation is reached.
  • Data reviewed and coded for categories and

Grounded Theory cont.
  • Data analysis generates a visual picture, a
    narrative statement or a series of hypotheses
    with a central phenomenon, causal conditions,
    context and consequences.
  • The researcher needs to set aside theoretical
    ideas or notions so that analytical or
    substantive theories can emerge from the data.
  • Systematic approach

  • A description and interpretation of a cultural or
    social group or system. The researcher examines
    the groups observable and learned patterns of
    behavior, customs, and ways of life.
  • Involves prolonged observation of the group,
    typically through participant observation.

  • Field Work
  • Key Informants
  • Thick description
  • Emic (insider group perspective) and Etic
    (researchers interpretation of social life).
  • Context important, need holistic view.
  • Need grounding in anthropology.

Ethnography cont.
  • Need extensive time to collect data
  • Many ethnographies may be written in a narrative
    or story telling approach which may be difficult
    for the audience accustomed to usual social
    science writing.

Ethnography cont.
  • May incorporate quantitative data and archival

Case Study
  • A case study is an exploration of a bounded
    system or a case (or multiple cases) over time
    through detailed, in-depth data collection
    involving multiple sources of information rich in
  • The context of the case involves situating the
    case within its setting. which may be physical,
    social, historical and/or economic.

Case Study cont.
  • Data collection strategies include direct
    observation, interviews, documents, archival
    records, participant observation, physical
    artifacts and audiovisual materials.
  • Analysis of themes, or issues and an
    interpretation of the case by the researcher.

Designing a Qualitative Study
  • Problem Statement or Statement of Need for the
  • No hypothesis Research questions which you want
    to answer instead.
  • Opinions differ about the extent of literature
    needed before a study begins.
  • Need to identify the gaps in knowledge about the

Qualitative Study Design cont.
  • Research questions that are too broad
  • Does Buddhism account for the patience that seems
    to dominate the Thai world view?
  • How do leaders make their decisions?

Qualitative Study Design cont.
  • Research questions better answered
  • by quicker means
  • What television programs do Brazilians watch
  • Where can you buy postage stamps in
  • Italy?

Qualitative Study Design cont.
  • Examples of Qualitative Questions
  • What do people in this setting have to know in
    order to do what they are doing?
  • What is the story that can be told from these
  • What are the underlying themes and contexts that
    account for the experience?

Qualitative Sampling Strategies
  • No probability sampling

Sampling Strategies cont.
  • Decisions about sampling and sampling strategies
    depend on the unit of analysis which has been
  • individual people
  • program, group organization or community
  • genders, ethnic groups, older and younger

Sampling Strategies cont.
  • Purposeful or Judgment Sampling
  • In judgment sampling, you decide the purpose you
    want informants (or communities) to serve, and
    you go out to find some Bernard, 2000176
  • Key Informants are people who are particularly
    knowledgeable about the inquiry setting and
    articulate about their knowledge.

Sampling Strategies cont.
  • Purposeful Sampling Strategies
  • Maximum variation
  • Homogeneous
  • Critical case
  • Theory based
  • Confirming and disconfirming cases

Sampling Strategies cont.
  • Snowball or chain
  • Extreme or deviant case
  • Typical case
  • Intensity
  • Politically important cases
  • Random purposeful

Sampling Strategies cont.
  • Stratified purposeful
  • Criterion
  • Opportunistic
  • Combination or mixed
  • Convenience

Qualitative Data Collection
  • Rather than developing an instrument to use, the
    qualitative researcher is the instrument.
  • Recording data Field notes, tape recorders,
    video and photographic data
  • Interviews must be transcribed.

Fieldwork Strategies and Observations
  • In the fields of observation, chance favors the
    prepared mind. Louis Pasteur
  • People only see what they are prepared to see.
    Ralph Waldo Emerson

Fieldwork Observations
  • Learn to pay attention, see what there is to see,
    and hear what there is to hear.
  • Practice writing descriptively
  • Acquiring discipline in recording field notes
  • Knowing how to separate detail from trivia to
    achieve the former without being overwhelmed by
    the latter.

Fieldwork Observations cont.
  • Use rigorous methods to validate and triangulate
  • Reporting strengths and limitations of ones own
    perspective, which requires both self-knowledge
    and self-disclosure.
  • Participant observer or onlooker or both

Qualitative Interviewing
  • 1. Informal conversational interview
  • 2. Interview guide approach
  • 3. Standardized open-ended interview
  • 4. Closed, fixed-response interview

Qualitative Interviewing cont.
  • Sequencing questions
  • Use words that make sense to the people being
  • Ask truly open-ended questions
  • Avoid questions which can be answered with a yes
    or no.
  • One idea per question.
  • Be careful with Why questions.

Qualitative Data Analysis
  • When does analysis begin? During data
  • Thick description is the foundation for
    qualitative analysis and reporting.
  • Organize the data. Read all the data and get a
    sense of the whole.
  • Coding for recurring themes and categories

Qualitative Data Analysis
  • Computer-assisted qualitative data management and
  • Ethnograph
  • NUDIST (Non-numerical Unstructured Data With
    Indexing, Searching and Theorizing) QSR N6 and
    QSR NVivo
  • ATLAS.ti

Qualitative Data Analysis
  • Coding data
  • Finding Patterns
  • Labeling Themes
  • Developing Category Systems
  • Looking for emergent patterns in the data

  • Bernard, H.R. (2000). Social Research Methods
    Qualitative and Quantitative approaches.
    Thousand Oaks, CA Sage
  • Creswell, J.W. (1998). Qualitative Inquiry and
    Research Design Choosing Among Five Traditions.
    Thousand Oaks, CA Sage
  • Munhall, P.L. (2001). Nursing Research A
    Qualitative Perspective, 3rd Edition. Sudbury,
    MA Jones and Bartlett
  • Patton, M.Q. (2002). Qualitative Research
    Evaluation Methods, 3rd Edition. Thousand Oaks,
    CA Sage
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