Qualitative Research

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Text of Qualitative Research

QUALITATIVE RESEARCHHASHIMAH MOHD. YUNUS School Of Educational Studies Universiti Sains Malaysia myshima@usm.my

Some DefinitionsAn inquiry process of understanding a social or human problem based on building a complex, holistic picture formed with words reporting detailed views of informants and conducted in a natural setting. Cresswell (1994)

Any kind of research that produces findings not arrived at by means of Statistical procedures or other means of quantification." (Strauss & Corbin, 1990)

Basis for the Use of a Qualitative MethodologyStrauss and Corbin (1990) claim that qualitative methods can be used to: better understand any phenomenon about which little is yet known. gain new perspectives on things about which much is already known, or to gain more in-depth information that may be difficult to convey quantitatively.


An Interactive Model of Research Design Source Maxwell,J.A (1996)


Conceptual Context

Research Questions



Contextual factors influencing research designPerceived problems Personal and political goals Personal experience Existing theory


Conceptual ContextPrior &pilot research

Participant concerns


Research Questions

Thought experiments

Ethical standard

Data and conclusion




Personal styles

Research skills

Research paradigm

Characteristics/Features of Qualitative Research An exploratory and Descriptive focus Emergent Design Data Collection in the natural setting Emphasis on human-as-instrument Qualitative methods of data collection Early and On-going inductive analysis

Cresswell (1994) divides qualitative research into five major traditions :

The Biography Phenomenology Grounded Theory Ethnography Case Study

Qualitative Research DesignQualitative Research Designs


The collection of extensive narrative data over an extended period of time in natural settings to gain insights about other types of research. Data are collected through observations at particular points of time over a sustained period. Data include observations, records and interpretations of what is seen. An in-depth study of an individual group, institution, organization or program. Data include interviews, field notes of observations, archival data and biographical data.

Case Studies

grounded theory

the researcher generates an abstract analytical schema of a phenomenon, a theory that explains some action, interaction, or process. This analysis occurs primarily through collecting interview data, making multiple visits to the field (theoretical sampling), attempting to develop and interrelate categories of information via constant comparison, and writing a substantive or context-specific theory (Strauss & Corbin, 1990). A study of the shared meaning of experience of a phenomenon for several individuals. The understanding of meaningful concrete relations implicit in the original description of experience in the context of a particular situation is the primary target of phenomenological knowledge (Moustakas, 1994, p. 14). The researcher reduces data gathered as lengthy interviews describing the shared experiences of several informants to a central meaning, or essence of the experience. A study of a single individual and his or her experiences as told to the researcher or as found in the documents and archival materials (Denzin, 1989). Broadly include biographies, autobiographies, life histories, and oral histories. The researcher investigates the life of one individual, often collecting data primarily through interviews and documents of many types (e.g., diaries, family histories,



Qualitative inquiry is for the researcher who is willing to do the following:

1. Commit to extensive time in the field -engage in the complex, time - consuming process of data analysis the ambitious task of sorting through large amounts of data and reducing them to a few themes or categories.

2. Write long passages, because the evidence must substantiate claims and the writer needs to show multiple perspectives 3. Participate in a form of social and human science research that does not have firm guidelines or specific procedures and is evolving and changing constantly.

REASONS FOR CONDUCTING QUALITATIVE RESEARCH the nature of the research question: often starts with a how or a what so that initial forays into the topic describe what is going on. the topic needs to be explored. the need to present a detailed view of the topic to study individuals in their natural setting. interest in writing in a literary style; the writer brings himself or herself into the study select a qualitative approach because audiences are receptive to qualitative research. emphasize the researcher's role as an active learner who can tell the story from the participants' view rather than as an "expert" who passes judgment on participants.

The Role of the Researcher in Qualitative InquiryBefore conducting a qualitative study, a researcher must do three things. 2. (s)he must adopt the characteristics of the naturalist paradigm. 3. must develop the level of skill appropriate for a human instrument, or the vehicle through which data will be collected and interpreted. 4. prepare a research design that utilizes accepted strategies for naturalistic inquiry (Lincoln and Guba, 1985).

"theoretical sensitivity refers to a personal quality of the researcher. It indicates an awareness of the subtleties of meaning of data. [It] refers to the attribute of having insight, the ability to give meaning to data, the capacity to understand, and capability to separate the pertinent from that which isnt (Strauss and Corbin, 1990, p. 42).

Research Design and Data Collection Strategies1. Determine a focus for the inquiry. This should establish a boundary for the study, and provide inclusion/exclusion criteria for new information. Boundaries, however, can be altered, and typically are.

2. Determine the fit of the research paradigm to the research focus. The researcher must compare the characteristics of the qualitative paradigm with the goals of the research. 3. Determine where and from whom data will be collected. 4. Determine what the successive phases of the inquiry will be. Phase one, for example, might feature open-ended data collection, while successive phases will be more focused.

Research Design and Data Collection Strategies5. Determine what additional instrumentation may be used, beyond the researcher as the human instrument. 6. Plan data collection and recording modes. This must include how detailed and specific research questions will be, and how faithfully data will be reproduced. 7. Plan which data analysis procedures will be used. 8. Plan the logistics of data collection, including scheduling and budgeting. 9. Plan the techniques that will be used to determine trustworthiness.

Sampling Strategies for Qualitative Researcherspurposeful sampling is the dominant strategy in qualitative research. Purposeful sampling seeks information-rich cases which can be studied in depth (Patton, 1990).

Sampling Strategy Site Selection Comprehensive sampling Maximum variation sampling

Description Select site where specific events are expected to occur Choose entire group by criteria Select to obtain maximum differences of perceptions about a topic among information-rich informants or group Each successive person or group is nominated by a prior person as appropriate for a profile or attribute

Network sampling Sampling by case type Extreme-case sampling Intense-case sampling Typical-case sampling Unique-case sampling Reputational-case sampling Critical-case sampling Concept/theory-based sampling Combination of purposeful sampling strategies

Choose extreme cases after knowing the typical or average case-e.g., outstanding successes, crisis events Select cases that are intense but not extreme illustrations Know the typical characteristics of a group and sample by cases Choose the unusual or rare case of some dimension or event Obtain the recommendation of knowledgeable experts for the best examples Identify the case that can illustrate some phenomenon dramatically Select by information-rich persons or situations known to experience the concept or to be attempting to implement the concept/theory Choose various sampling strategies as needed or desired for purposes, especially in large-scale studies and lengthy process studies

Data Collection TechniquesThe two prevailing forms of data collection associated with qualitative inquiry are interviews and observation. Interviews Qualitative interviews may be used either as the primary strategy for data collection, or in conjunction with observation, document analysis, or other techniques ( Bogdan and Biklen, 1982). Qualitative interviewing utilizes open-ended questions that allow for individual variations. Three types of qualitative interviewing: 1) informal, conversational interviews; 2) semi-structured interviews; and 3) standardized, open-ended interviews. Patton (1990 )

An interview guide or "schedule" is a list of questions or general topics that the interviewer wants to explore during each interview:

prepared to insure that basically the same information is obtained from each person, there are no predetermined responses interviewer is free to probe and explore within these predetermined inquiry areas. ensure good use of limited interview time; they make interviewing multiple subjects more systematic and comprehensive; and they help to keep interactions focused. can be modifie