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Publishing qualitative research issues and suggestions Albert Boonstra June 28th 2012.

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Presentation on theme: "Publishing qualitative research issues and suggestions Albert Boonstra June 28th 2012."— Presentation transcript:

1 Publishing qualitative research issues and suggestions Albert Boonstra June 28th 2012

2 My perspective Most of my own research is qualitative. I study IS implementation processes in their context. Conducting qualitative research is difficult, but also challenging and relevant. Associate editor of ISJ, a journal specialized in qualitative research (v. good category). The ISJ encourages submissions that reflect the wide and interdisciplinary nature of the subject and articles that integrate technological disciplines with social, contextual and management issues, based on research using any appropriate research method. The ISJ has particularly built its reputation by publishing qualitative research and it continues to welcome such papers

3 Contents (20 minutes) Qualitative research Five common problems Five comments from reviewers Five suggestions for qualitative researchers Some concerns and ideas

4 Qualitative research Aims at understanding real life situations Suitable for the business and management domain, where academic research is often criticized for its lack of relevance Results do often catch attention because it describes and analyses a rich story

5 What is qualitative research? (1) Seeking understanding by talking to people, focus on text. Engaged with people in real organizations Based on the notion that knowledge is context dependent Data are approached by questions such as: -what is happening -why is it happening -how has it come to happen, and -when did it happen

6 What is qualitative research? (2) Includes a broad category of partially overlapping research types, including action research, case study research, ethnography, grounded theory Qualitative research can be exploratory, explanatory, developing, validating or falsifying theories

7 Qualitative and quantitative research compared QuantitativeQualitative Large sample size, focus on numbersSmall sample size, focus on words Focus on varianceFocus on context and process Statistical generalizationAnalytical generalization ‘transferability’, comparable with experiments Generates context independent Generates context dependent knowledge knowledgeRichness and depth

8 Critiques Fundamental critique to qualitative research Scientific knowledge is context independent One cannot generalize from individual cases Qualitative researchers are involved and biased Pragmatic critique to qualitative research Much work and hard to publish Critiques to quantitative research Artificial, low relevance Not possible to produce general and context independent theory of the social world and human affairs Directions forward Mixed research approaches (many top journals love it) Method is research question dependent

9 Five common problems of qualitative research papers

10 Theory Study is not informed by theory, theoretical contribution is limited or the qualitative data are not well connected with theory. MethodStrengths of qualitative research method are not utilized. Research questions do not justify a qualitative approach. Research method section is not precise and vague. Writing styleWriting, especially the results section is messy, wordy, not organized around research questions and hard to comprehend.

11 Five comments from reviewers 1 ‘..The model is quite narrow, it is hard to build a bridge to the case study.. A mismatch between a clean model suitable for using quantitative methods, and the case study, which has a lot of potential richness..’ (MISQ) Link between model and data. Variable model combined with qualitative approach

12 Five comments from reviewers 2 ‘..The research method of this research seems to be content analysis, whereas typical case-studies tend to examine the context, process and relationships. In fact, most of the data analysis involves classifying narratives into the framework.. ‘ (JSIS) Limited use of the strengths of a qualitative approach

13 Five comments from reviewers 3 ‘..In fact, case study is just the right technique. It would be good to elaborate the time taken for the interviews, the type of questions asked, more details on the interviewees etc..’ (ISJ) More elaborated method section

14 Five comments from reviewers 4 ‘..This criticism regards the description of the data. While the paper does provide some quantitative information about the dataset, more information about the "thickness" of the data (Geertz, 1973) is required..’ (EJIS) Rich description of data

15 Five comments from reviewers 5 ‘..In terms of discussion, I gather that the qualitative data is interpreted to provide strength to the argument developed. However, I am not able to find the argument arising from the data leading to the four groups presented later..’ (ISJ) Weak link between data and contribution

16 Five suggestions

17 1)TEAMWORK Qualitative research is time-consuming and involves a high degree of skills and expertise. Undertake qualitative research as part of a team. Discuss early versions of your work with people who are able to provide constructive and developmental feedback.

18 Five suggestions 2) JOURNAL AND CONTRIBUTION Select a candidate journal at the start of the research project (plus a fall back option). Study a few very good related qualitative research papers. Think about candidate research questions and theoretical contribution right from the start.

19 Five suggestions 3) WRITING Start writing, right from the start. Writing is thinking. Develop your writing style. Be to the point, well structured, focused. Tell a story to the reader, that develops from a motivation and a question to a conclusion in a logical way. Remove unnecessary parts, which distract the reader from main line (baby-killing).

20 Five suggestions 4) METHOD Research method section is important and not straightforward. Tell the readers what you did, but also why. Be as transparent as possible.

21 Five suggestions 5) RESULTS Present the data analysis/results in a structured fashion, close to the research questions. Reviewers dislike the messy presentation of results of many qualitative research papers.

22 Concerns Lack of adequate courses on qualitative research Negative bias to qualitative research Decreasing number of leaders of qualitative approaches

23 Ideas for our group In our group we should embrace methodological pluralism Collaboration of quantitative and qualitative researchers to produce mixed method papers Qualitative researchers should collaborate and help each other to improve quality

24 Some resources Dubé and Paré (2003) Rigor in IS positivist case research. MISQ Hennink, Hutter, Bailey, (2011) Qualitative Research Methods, Sage. Excellenct chapter about writing qualitative research. Miles and Huberman, (1994) Qualitative Data Analysis, Sage. Excellent sources Wolcott, (2001) Writing up qualitative research, Sage. Focus on writing and publishing qualitative research. Flyvbjerg (2006), Five misunderstandings about case-study research, Qualitative Inquiry, 12(2): 219-245.

25 Thanks

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