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Managing Qualitative Research Khalid Mahmood, PhD Professor of Library & Information Science University of the Punjab 1.

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Presentation on theme: "Managing Qualitative Research Khalid Mahmood, PhD Professor of Library & Information Science University of the Punjab 1."— Presentation transcript:

1 Managing Qualitative Research Khalid Mahmood, PhD Professor of Library & Information Science University of the Punjab 1

2 Acknowledgement This presentation is based on many books, notes, websites and presentations on the topic. The presenter pays his sincere gratitude to all authors, professors and experts for their efforts and contributions. 2

3 Agenda What is qualitative research? Qualitative traditions of inquiry Steps in qualitative study Ethical considerations Sampling Types of data Data collection Data analysis Validity, reliability and generalizability 3

4 What is qualitative research? 4

5 Qualitative research… Allows the researcher to understand a problem or phenomenon from the perspectives of the people it involves. Reveals a complete picture of a certain research issue. Seeks to provide a rich understanding of a certain research issue. 5

6 In qualitative methods… Researcher collects data in a real environment. Researcher himself/herself is the key research tool. Focus of research is a process or activity itself, not just results of that process or activity. Data collected is most often verbal (non- numerical). Verbal data analysis (rarely numerical). 6

7 Comparison of quantitative and qualitative methods QUALITATIVEQUANTITATIVE Multiple realitiesSingle reality Reality is socially constructedReality is objective Reality is context interrelatedReality is context free HolisticReductionistic Reasoning is inductiveReasoning is deductive and inductive Discovery of meaning is the basis of knowledge Cause-and-effect relationships are the bases of knowledge Develops theoryTests theory 7

8 Comparison of quantitative and qualitative methods (continued) QUALITATIVEQUANTITATIVE Meaning of conceptsMeasurement of variables Process orientedOutcome oriented Control unimportantControl important Rich descriptionsPrecise measurement of variables Basic element of analysis is wordsBasic element of analysis is numbers UniquenessGeneralization Trustworthiness of findingsControl of error 8

9 Qualitative traditions of inquiry 9

10 Biography Historical research Phenomenology Grounded theory Ethnography Ethnology Case study Symbolic interaction 10

11 Biography The study of an individual and her or his experiences as told to the researcher or found in documents and archival material. Life historyThe study of an individuals life and how it reflects cultural themes of the society. 11

12 Biography (continued) Oral historyThe researcher gathers personal recollections of events, their causes, and their effects from an individual or several individuals. The researcher needs to collect extensive information about the subject of the biography. The writer, using an interpretive approach, needs to be able to bring himself or herself into the narrative and acknowledge his or her standpoint. 12

13 Historical research Studies available data to describe, understand, and interpret past events. Uses primary sources of information. Does external and internal criticism of documents or artifacts. 13

14 Phenomenology Describes the meaning of the lived experience about a concept or a phenomenon for several individuals. Determines 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. 14

15 Grounded theory Intends to generate or discover a theory that relates to a particular situation. If little is known about a topic, grounded theory is especially useful. Because the theory emerges from the data, it is said to be grounded in the data. Data collection and analysis occur simultaneously, until saturation is reached. Data reviewed and coded for categories and themes. 15

16 Ethnography A description and interpretation of a cultural or social group or system. The researcher examines the groups observable patterns of behavior, customs, and ways of life. Involves prolonged observation of the group, typically through participant observation. 16

17 Ethnography (continued) Field work Key informants Thick description Emic (insider group perspective) and Etic (researchers interpretation of social life). Context important, needs holistic view. Needs grounding in anthropology. 17

18 Ethnography (continued) 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. May incorporate quantitative data and archival documents. 18

19 Ethnology Compares and analyzes the origins, distribution, technology, religion, language, and social structure of the ethnic, racial, and/or national divisions of humanity. 19

20 Case study 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 context. The context of the case involves situating the case within its setting which may be physical, social, historical and/or economic. 20

21 Symbolic interaction Investigates how people construct meaning and shared perspectives by interacting with others. 21

22 Steps in qualitative study 22

23 1. General research question 2. Select relevant site(s) and subjects 3. Collection of relevant data 4. Interpretation of data 5. Conceptual and theoretical work 6. Tighter specification of the research question 7. Collection of further data 8. Conceptual and theoretical work 9. Write up findings 23

24 24

25 Ethical considerations 25

26 Mutual respect and trust (prolonged interaction) Respect for social and cultural contexts Voluntary participation Informed consent Beneficence – doing good for others and preventing harm Confidentiality 26

27 Sampling 27

28 Determining a sample Even if it were possible, it is not necessary to collect data from everyone in a community. In qualitative research, the researcher needs to define and select a sample. The studys research objectives and the characteristics of the study population determine which and how many people to select. 28

29 Sample size Usually smaller than quantitative study. Two general guidelines: the number of participants is sufficient when… the extent to which the selected participants represent the range of potential participants in the setting the point at which the data gathered begin to be redundant (data saturation) 29

30 Sampling methods No probability sampling Three of the most common sampling methods are: Purposive sampling Quota sampling Snowball sampling 30

31 Purposive sampling Purposive sampling groups participants according to pre- selected criteria relevant to a particular research question. ex. Vietnamese businessmen in the USA Sample sizes depend on: Resources and time available The studys objectives If the researcher needs a specific number of participants, quota sampling is better. 31

32 Quota sampling Quota sampling begins with two decisions: What characteristics? How many people? Characteristics are selected in order to find participants who have experience with or knowledge of the research topic. The researcher goes into the community and selects the predetermined number of people demonstrating the pre-selected characteristics. 32

33 Snowball sampling Snowball sampling is a form of purposive sampling. Participants refer the researcher to other potential participants. Snowball sampling is often used to find and recruit hidden populations – groups not easily accessible to researchers. 33

34 Types of data 34

35 Written field notes Audio recordings of conversations Video recordings of activities Diary recordings of activities / thoughts Documents Depth information on: thoughts, views, interpretations priorities, importance processes, practices intended effects of actions feelings and experiences 35

36 Data collection 36

37 Three data collection strategies: 1. Participant observation 2. In-depth interviews 3. Focus group interviews Qualitative researchers may combine more than one method 37

38 Participant observation Intensive, usually long term, examination of a social group, an organization, etc. Researcher becomes a participant in the lives of group members Observes their behavior and learns meaning systems (which are tied to language) Most closely associated with Ethnography, as developed in Classical Anthropology Now done in a variety of disciplines 38

39 Participant observation (continued) Today most ethnographers take an overt role i.e., their identity as a researcher is known to the people being studied Covert participation (i.e., identity concealed from participants) is fraught with ethical issues 39

40 Steps involved in participant observation research A. Gaining entry into the group B. Developing and maintaining rapport C. Developing a method for taking field notes D. Integrating data collection and data analysis 40

41 Steps in participant observation: Gaining entry into the group Take into consideration the type of group formal organizations require formal entry; involves letter writing, permission requests, etc. Informal groups – different strategy needed Access may be gained through a gatekeeper (an individual with special status) Want to involve key informants (those who are most knowledgeable about the group) 41

42 Steps in participant observation: Developing/maintaining rapport Researcher must work hard to develop and maintain good relationships in the field e.g., be sure not to become associated with one faction in a group or organization Researcher could be blamed for problems that arise in the setting 42

43 Steps in participant observation: Strategies for taking field notes Include descriptions and interpretations of individuals, interactions, and events Distinguish descriptions from interpretations Record time and location of observations, as well as key information (weather, events happening and their significance) Keep theoretical memos – which are the tentative interpretations emerging and being assessed through further data collection 43

44 Field notes (continued) May not be possible or advisable to take notes while in the field Important that they be done as soon after field observation as possible Note-taking is time-consuming because it is integral to guiding the data collection and continuing the analysis e.g., field notes for When Prophecy Failed were well over 1,000 typed pages 44

45 Steps in participant observation: Integrating data collection and analysis Organizing field notes into different types of files facilitates data analysis Master field file – complete journal of field notes; number pages and include entry dates Background, history file – subfile organizing background material Key character files – subfiles on key players in the group or organization Analytic files – subfiles for different types of observations or relationships 45

46 In-depth interviews Some studies cannot employ the participant observation method In-depth interviews allow participants to describe their experiences and the meaning of events taking place in their lives Verbatim quotes capture the language and meaning expressed by participants Interviews are flexible and allow for probing Interview method is quite diverse, adaptive 46

47 In-depth interviews (continued) Three key elements for the interview method to be successful: 1. Explicit purpose – researcher and informant are aware that the discussion has a purpose 2. Ethnographic explanations – researcher tries out explanations on the participants to see if they make sense Encourage the informants to use colloquial language, and teach the researcher its meaning 3. Ethnographic questions include: i. Descriptive questions – ask participants to describe their experiences (e.g., their ideas, circumstances, viewpoints, dilemmas, etc) ii. Structural questions – ask participants how they organize their world (e.g., activities) iii. Contrast questions – ask participants what is meant by specific terminology 47

48 Interview dos and donts Do listen more and talk less Do follow up on what is not clear and probe more deeply into what is revealed Dont use leading questions; do use open-ended questions (probes) Dont interrupt; do wait Do keep interviewee(s) focused Dont be judgmental about or react to an interviewees opinions, views, or beliefs Dont engage in debate with an interviewee Do record everything the interviewee says and note impressions of interviewees nonverbal behavior 48

49 Focus group interviews Interview format, but in a group setting 6-12 participants with common experience Dates back to the 1940s – used to assess effectiveness of morale-boosting radio shows 1970s onward – used by market researchers 1980s onward – used by academics Transcript of discussion is the data Plus accompanying notes Use content analysis or grounded theory approach to analyze the data 49

50 Focus group interviews (continued) Strengths: Open-ended question Spontaneously deal with issues as they arise Cost-effective method of collecting data Less time-consuming Weaknesses: One or two participants may dominate Not done in a natural setting, so little observation to help understand the experience of the participants 50

51 Data analysis 51

52 Open coding Systematic coding Affinity diagramming 52

53 Open coding Treat data as answers to open-ended questions ask data specific questions assign codes for answers record theoretical notes 53

54 Example: Calendar routines Families were interviewed about their calendar routines What calendars they had Where they kept their calendars What types of events they recorded … Written notes Audio recordings 54

55 Example: Calendar routines Step 1: translate field notes (optional) paperdigital 55

56 Example: Calendar routines Step 2: list questions / focal points Where do families keep their calendars? What uses do they have for their calendars? Who adds to the calendars? When do people check the calendars? … 56

57 Example: Calendar routines Step 3: go through data and ask questions Where do families keep their calendars? 57

58 Example: Calendar routines Step 3: go through data and ask questions Where do families keep their calendars? [KI] Calendar Locations: [KI] – the kitchen [KI] 58

59 Example: Calendar routines Step 3: go through data and ask questions Where do families keep their calendars? [KI] Calendar Locations: [KI] – the kitchen [CR] – childs room [CR] 59

60 Example: Calendar routines Step 3: go through data and ask questions Continue for the remaining questions…. [KI] Calendar Locations: [KI] – the kitchen [CR] – childs room [CR] 60

61 Example: Calendar routines The result: list of codes frequency of each code a sense of the importance of each code frequency != importance 61

62 Example 2: Calendar contents Pictures were taken of family calendars 62

63 Example: Calendar contents Step 1: list questions / focal points What type of events are on the calendar? Who are the events for? What other markings are made on the calendar? … 63

64 Example: Calendar contents Step 2: go through data and ask questions What types of events are on the calendar? 64

65 Example: Calendar contents Step 2: go through data and ask questions What types of events are on the calendar? Types of Events: [FO] – family outing [FO] 65

66 Example: Calendar contents Step 2: go through data and ask questions What types of events are on the calendar? Types of Events: [FO] – family outing [AN] - anniversary [FO] [AN] 66

67 Example: Calendar contents Step 2: go through data and ask questions Continue for the remaining questions…. Types of Events: [FO] – family outing [AN] - anniversary [FO] [AN] 67

68 Reporting results Find the main themes Use quotes / scenarios to represent them Include counts for codes (optional) 68

69 Software: Microsoft Word 69

70 Software: Microsoft Excel 70

71 Software: ATLAS.ti 71

72 Software: NVivo 72

73 Systematic coding Categories are created ahead of time from existing literature from previous open coding Code the data just like open coding 73

74 Affinity diagramming Goal: what are the main themes? Write ideas on sticky notes Place notes on a large wall / surface Group notes hierarchically to see main themes 74

75 Example: Calendar field study Families were given a digital calendar to use in their homes Thoughts / reactions recorded: Weekly interview notes Audio recordings from interviews 75

76 Example: Calendar field study Step 1: Affinity notes go through data and write observations down on post-it notes each note contains one idea 76

77 Example: Calendar field study Step 2: Diagram building place all notes on a wall / surface 77

78 Example: Calendar field study Step 3: Diagram building move notes into related columns / piles 78

79 Example: Calendar field study Step 3: Diagram building move notes into related columns / piles 79

80 Example: Calendar field study Step 3: Diagram building move notes into related columns / piles 80

81 Example: Calendar field study Step 3: Diagram building move notes into related columns / piles 81

82 Example: Calendar field study Step 3: Diagram building move notes into related columns / piles 82

83 Example: Calendar field study Step 3: Diagram building move notes into related columns / piles 83

84 Example: Calendar field study Step 3: Diagram building move notes into related columns / piles 84

85 Example: Calendar field study Step 4: Affinity labels write labels describing each group 85

86 Example: Calendar field study Step 4: Affinity labels write labels describing each group Calendar placement is a challenge 86

87 Example: Calendar field study Step 4: Affinity labels write labels describing each group Calendar placement is a challenge Interface visuals affect usage 87

88 Example: Calendar field study Step 4: Affinity labels write labels describing each group Calendar placement is a challenge Interface visuals affect usage People check the calendar when not at home 88

89 Example: Calendar field study Step 5: Further refine groupings Calendar placement is a challenge Interface visuals affect usage People check the calendar when not at home 89

90 Validity, reliability and generalizability 90

91 Threats to validity Observer bias Invalid information resulting from the perspective the researcher brings to the study and imposes upon it e.g., studying ones own culture Observer effects The impact of the observers participation on the setting or the participants being studied e.g., people may do things differently 91

92 Strategies to enhance validity Intensive, long term involvement more data, repeated observation and interviews Rich data full and detailed descriptions Respondent validation ask them if the reporting is correct Intervention interact with them and see how behavior changes Searching for negative cases and alternative explanations Triangulation collect data from a variety of settings and methods Quasi-statistics e.g., frequency counts of the argument Comparison multicase, multisite studies 92

93 Reliability It is a quantitative measure. This concept is irrelevant in qualitative research. However, to test a qualitative study for reliability, you need to convert data into relevant numbers and determine efficacy based on the results. 93

94 Generalization A generalization is usually thought of as a statement or claim that applies to more than one individual, group, or situation. The value of a generalization is that it allows us to have expectations about the future. A limitation of qualitative research is that there is seldom justification for generalizing the findings of a particular study. Due to this problem, replication of qualitative studies becomes more important than for quantitative studies. 94

95 Thanks to all participants 95


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