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Qualitative research methods. A second major branch of empirical social research A number of scholars question the idea of ‘reality’ as something entirely.

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Presentation on theme: "Qualitative research methods. A second major branch of empirical social research A number of scholars question the idea of ‘reality’ as something entirely."— Presentation transcript:

1 Qualitative research methods

2 A second major branch of empirical social research A number of scholars question the idea of ‘reality’ as something entirely external to the mind, existing independent of our understanding of it and unchanged by our study of it

3 Qualitative research Qualitative researchers often see reality as created rather than discovered  The interaction between our beliefs and some physical external world creates our ‘reality’  We can never know the world ‘as it is’ because our understanding shapes the world  In addition, our study of some physical, external world changes that world, so we may be chasing our tail

4 Qualitative researchers seek to understand the “reality” individuals and groups experience They conclude that there are multiple realities, all of which can be seen as valid

5 Features of qualitative research “all qualitative research exhibits seven basic characteristics. The most important are (1) thick description, or rich and relevant descriptions of the social, cultural, linguistic, and material contexts in which people live; (2) the presentation of the perspective of the people being studied (the emic, or natives', point of view); and (3) the use of relatively small and purposefully selected (rather than large and randomly selected) samples. reserved.

6 Qualitative inquiry also involves (4) the inductive development of explanation, concepts, and theory; (5) reliance on observational and interview data; (6) the use of textual data involving content and thematic analysis (rather than numerical data and statistical analysis); and (7) techniques of verification that assess the trustworthiness of data, replication, and saturation.” Qualitative Research from Encyclopedia of Science, Technology, and Ethics. Copyright © by Macmillan Reference USA, an imprint of the Gale Group.

7 How does this affect their work and their methods? Qualitative researchers normally attempt to gain a great deal of information about a small number of subjects  Maintain rich context  Come to know a group or situation intimately “Immerse” themselves in a situation

8 Qualitative researchers seek guidance from research subjects as to the meanings of their behavior/beliefs

9 Qualitative researchers recognize that they are not truly ‘objective’ in their approach to the subject under study  They prefer to recognize and discuss their point of view in studying the topic  They challenge the claims of objectivity made by quantitative researchers

10 Flexible methods/Adjustment and spontaneity Qualitative researchers often adjust their methods as they go along, based on early findings  Gradually come to understand the topic of study  Quantitative researchers would be concerned that early results are incomparable to later results  Inductive approach rather than deductive

11 Researcher must develop the ability over time to address the scene/issues Researcher is informed by theory, but tries to be as open as possible to the meanings available in the scene

12 Parallel quantitative and qualitative methods QuantitativeQualitative ExperimentField experiment Ethnography/Participant observation Survey (closed-ended)Survey (Open-ended) Depth interviews, focus groups/Projective techniques Content analysisDiscourse analysis Audience measurementFan culture studies

13 QuantitativeQualitative Goal Hypothesis testing/Identify laws of behavior [Breadth] Hypothesis generating/ Develop understanding [Depth] Generalizability Generalizable findings/ Universal laws Non-generalizable findings/ Local rules SamplesLarge random samplesSmall targeted samples MeasuresStandardized, fixedNon-standardized, fluid Measurement contextUnnaturalNatural Researcher roleObjective measurerSubjective observer Subject role Respond to questions/ stimulus [object] Construct meaning/ Behave naturally [subject]

14 Reliability and validity Qualitative researchers argue that there is no point in trying to establish "validity" in any external or objective sense because there is no ‘objective’ external reality to compare our research findings to.

15 Evaluating the quality of qualitative research Credibility Transferability Dependability Confirmability  From: Measuring occupational performance: Supporting Best Practice in Occupational Therapy, by Mary Law, Carolyn Manville Baum, and Winnie Dunn. Published by SLACK Incorporated, 2005 ISBN ,

16 Credibility Credibility involves establishing that the results of qualitative research are credible or believable from the perspective of the participant in the research.  Participants are often consulted regarding the researcher’s conclusions

17 Transferability Transferability refers to the degree to which the results of qualitative research can be generalized or transferred to other contexts or settings. Those who wish to "transfer" the results to a different context are responsible for making the judgment of how sensible the transfer is.

18 The qualitative researcher can enhance transferability by doing a thorough job of describing the research context and the assumptions that were central to the research.

19 Dependability The idea of dependability emphasizes the need for the researcher to account for the ever-changing context within which research occurs. The researcher is responsible for describing the changes that occur in the setting and how these changes affected the way she approached the study.

20 Confirmability Qualitative research tends to assume that each researcher brings a unique perspective to the study. Confirmability refers to the degree to which the results could be confirmed or corroborated by others.

21 Strategies for enhancing confirmability Document the procedures for checking and rechecking the data throughout the study.  Allows other researchers to evaluate the study Another researcher can take a "devil's advocate" role with respect to the results, and this process can be documented.

22 Actively search for and describe and negative instances that contradict prior observations. Conduct a data audit that examines the data collection and analysis procedures and makes judgments about the potential for bias or distortion.


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