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QUALITATIVE RESEARCH Dr Jo Neale Reader in Qualitative and Mixed Methods Research Addictions Department IOP March 2014 – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Dr Jo Neale Reader in Qualitative and Mixed
Methods Research Addictions Department IOP March
  • PART 1 What is qualitative research?
  • PART 2 Collecting data for a simple qualitative
    interview study
  • PART 3 Coding, analysing writing up
    qualitative interview data

Part 1 What is qualitative research?
What is qualitative research?
  • Seeks meaning understanding of particular
    social phenomena
  • Allows topics to be explored in depth detail
  • Uses relatively small sample sizes
  • Utilises methods which are flexible sensitive
    to social context
  • Enables participants to be open reflective
    about their experiences
  • Focuses on peoples subjective experiences
  • Recognises that research involves judgements
  • Uses theory for understanding interpreting the
    social world

Types of qualitative method
  • Interviews
  • Focus groups
  • Observation
  • Ethnography
  • Biographical methods
  • Analysing documents (e.g. letters, diaries, case
    notes, meeting minutes)
  • Analysing images or film

Quantitative v qualitative
  • Quantitative methods tend to be deductive (seek
    to test theory or ideas using previously
    established categories of data)
  • Qualitative methods tend to be inductive (build
    insights or theory using categories generated
    from their own data)
  • For many years quantitative qualitative
    researchers each believed in the superiority of
    their own approaches
  • More recently some of the rigid boundaries
    between quantitative qualitative researchers
    have begun to relax
  • Increasing acceptance of, enthusiasm for, mixed
    methods research

Research stages
  • Choose a topic
  • Review the literature
  • Refine the research question(s)/ aim(s)/
  • Design the study (write a proposal/ protocol)
  • Prepare any fieldwork secure all of the
    necessary ethics governance approvals
  • Conduct the research
  • Organise analyse the data
  • Write up disseminate the findings

Developing a qualitative research question
  • A broad topic area
  • A clear research problem
  • A focused research question OR study aims
  • Read/ review the literature
  • Reflect
  • Brainstorm ideas
  • Discuss
  • Utilise theory
  • Be realistic narrow it down

Good research questions
  • Interesting
  • Relevant/ important
  • Feasible
  • Ethical
  • Concise/ clearly delineated
  • Answerable
  • Green in Gilbert (ed.) 2008

Examples of qualitative studies
  • Drug users views experiences of community
    pharmacy services
  • Experiences of non-fatal drug overdose
  • Good practice towards homeless drug users
  • Recreational drug driving
  • Drug user involvement in treatment
  • Barriers to the effective treatment of injecting
    drug users
  • The everyday lives of recovering heroin users
  • Delivering online treatment to homeless drug
    users living in hostels
  • Mapping relationships in emergency hostels
    night shelters to improve resettlement
    treatment outcomes

Part 2 Collecting data for a simple qualitative
interview study
What is a qualitative interview?
  • Very common method of data collection in
    qualitative research
  • Aka depth interviews, in-depth interviews,
    open-ended interviews, informal interviews,
    semi-structured interviews
  • Verbal interaction between a researcher an
    interviewee (participant, respondent, informant)
  • Aims to shed light on the research topic or
    question from the viewpoint of an expert
  • Commonly conducted face-to-face, but can be
    conducted by telephone, email or video
  • Format tends to be described as unstructured or

Strengths of qualitative interview studies
  • Produces detailed contextual information
  • Prioritises the participants perspective
  • Good for investigating topics about which
    relatively little is known
  • Valuable when researching sensitive issues
    complex behaviours

Weaknesses of qualitative interview studies
  • The subjective nature of in-depth interviewing
    makes it susceptible to criticisms of bias
  • In-depth interviewing can be extremely
    time-consuming to undertake
  • It is very easy for the inexperienced unskilled
    researcher to conduct a very poor in-depth
  • Researchers can struggle to know how to analyse
    the large quantities of unstructured narrative
    data that interviewing tends to produce

Preparing for a qualitative interview study
  • Be clear about the central aims of the study
    before you start
  • Ensure you have good knowledge of the existing
  • Think about who should be interviewed (sampling)
    how you will recruit them
  • Prepare a topic guide (interview schedule)
  • Prepare an information sheet about the study
    any necessary consent forms
  • Secure research approvals (ethics governance)
  • Think about when where to interview (including
    how to dress)
  • Think about safety well-being
  • Negotiate access to participants
  • Conduct one or two pilot interviews

  • Look carefully at handout 1. It is a topic guide
    for a study that was conducted a few years ago.
  • The aim of the study was to provide new
    information on how to improve injecting drug
    users access to services

Before the interview starts
  • Check recording equipment
  • Give participant an ID number or code
  • Record time, date place of interviews, plus any
    other notable circumstances
  • Introduce self study to the interviewee
  • Go through information sheet consent procedures

During the interview
  • Conduct the interview in a conversational manner
  • Use the interview schedule flexibly so key issues
    are covered, but allow the interviewee time to
    reflect raise new issues
  • Probe for clarification, depth detail
  • Communicate interest in, respect for, the
  • Listen carefully
  • Interviewee should talk most
  • Never make judgemental comments or gestures
  • Avoid expressing own opinions

Ending the interview
  • Check whether the interviewee has anything else
    they want to add
  • Thank the interviewee turn off the recorder
  • Avoid rushing off in case the participant wants
    to talk further
  • Once the interview is completely over the
    interviewee has left, record any private
    observations, thoughts feelings

Part 3 Coding, analysing writing up
qualitative interview data
Data management
  • Transcribe, anonymise log

Transcribing (handout 2)
  • So to start off, would you be able to tell me a
    bit about your use, about your drug use and uma
    bit about your life in general?
  • Uhwhere do you want me to start?
  • From the beginning if you like.
  • I started using drugs likeI started smoking
    cannabis when I was thirteen and I gradually
    moved on to heavier drugs with the crowd I used
    to hang around with.
  • Yeah.
  • I jut got deeper and deeper into it. I tried to
    get help but the only way I got off it is going
    to prison.
  • Right.
  • I tried to get maintained and things like that
    and you have got to wait like six or seven weeks,
    you have still got to be using until you get
    maintained. I dont want to keep using. I have
    been trying to stop for ages. I have been taking
    drugs forlike I have just said since I was
    thirteen years old.

  • Code (index) the transcribed data, usually with a
    software package (e.g. Nvivo, Atlas/ti, MAXQDA)
  • Does not analyse the data
  • Helps to sort order the data
  • Can help to identify emerging themes
  • 4 key stages
  • Devise coding frame, with on-going refinements
    (handout 3)
  • Upload interview transcripts
  • Tag interview text segments to codes
  • Retrieve text segments/ output/ codings (handout

  • Techniques include
  • Thematic analysis Constant comparative method
    Analytic induction Narrative analysis Grounded
    theory Content analysis Framework
  • Common key processes of analysis include
  • Identifying important phrases, patterns themes
    isolate emergent patterns, commonalities
    differences look for consistencies in the data
    test those consistencies against a formalised
    body of knowledge in the form of constructs or
  • Be systematic, rigorous complete

Analysis example
  • Consistent with Framework (Ritchie Lewis, 2003)
  • Read re-read retrieved text segments whilst
    noting key topics themes
  • Start at the top of the retrieved segments for a
    given code work down them line by line
  • Jot down themes as they occur and record
    interviewee number details in square brackets
    at each occurrence of a theme
  • Note any good quotations (handout 5)
  • Rationalise and re-group headings throughout the
  • Look for patterns connections across the
    emerging themes
  • Seek to engage with broader literature, policy
  • Produce a summary sheet (handout 6)

Publication example
  • Neale, J., Sheard, L., Tompkins, C. (2007)
    Factors that help injecting drug users to access
    and benefit from services a qualitative study,
    Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy
    2, 31.http//www.substanceabusepolicy.com/content

Questions discussion
Examples of published qualitative research
  • Neale, J., Nettleton, S. and Pickering, L. (2011)
    What is the role of harm reduction when drug
    users say they want abstinence?, International
    Journal of Drug Policy 22 (3), 189-193.
  • Neale, J., Nettleton, S., Pickering, L. and
    Fischer, J. (2012) Eating patterns amongst
    heroin users a qualitative study with
    implications for nutritional interventions,
    Addiction 107 (3), 635-641.
  • Stevenson, C. and Neale, J. (2012) We did more
    rough sleeping just to be together homeless
    drug users romantic relationships in hostel
    accommodation, Drugs education, prevention and
    policy 19 (3), 234-243.
  • Neale, J. and Stevenson, C. (2012) Routine
    exposure to blood within hostel environments
    might help to explain elevated levels of
    hepatitis C amongst homeless drug users insights
    from a qualitative study, International Journal
    of Drug Policy 23 (3), 248-250.
  • Neale, J., Nettleton, S. and Pickering, L. (2013)
    Does recovery-oriented treatment prompt heroin
    users prematurely into detoxification and
    abstinence programmes? Qualitative study, Drug
    and Alcohol Dependence 127, 163-169.
  • Neale, J. and Stevenson, C. (2013) A qualitative
    exploration of the spatial needs of homeless drug
    users living in hostels and night shelters,
    Social Policy and Society 12, 533-546.

Further reading
  • Creswell, J.W. (2007) Qualitative Inquiry and
    Research Design Choosing Among Five Approaches.
    London Sage
  • Gilbert, N. (ed.) (2008) Researching Social Life.
    London Sage.
  • Green, J. Thorogood, N. (2004) Qualitative
    Methods for Health Research. London Sage.
  • Mason, J. (2002) Qualitative Researching (2nd
    edn). London Sage.
  • Matthews, B. Ross, L. (2010) Research Methods
    A Practical Guide for the Social Sciences.
    Harlow Longman.
  • Neale, J. (Ed) (2009) Research Methods for Health
    and Social Care. Basingstoke Palgrave.
  • Ritchie, J. Lewis, J. (eds) (2003) Qualitative
    Research Practice A Guide for Social Science
    Students and Researchers. London Sage.
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