Qualitative research is a type of scientific research Methods Ankit Singh CAP 5108 1 Qualitative Research Qualitative research is a type of scientific research. In general terms, scientific research consists of an investigation that: - seeks answers to a question

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  • Qualitative Methods

    Ankit Singh CAP 5108

    1 Qualitative Research Qualitative research is a type of scientific research. In general terms, scientific research consists of an investigation that:

    - seeks answers to a question - systematically uses a predefined set of procedures to answer the question - collects evidence - produces findings that were not determined in advance - produces findings that are applicable beyond the immediate boundaries of the study

    Qualitative research shares these characteristics. Additionally, it seeks to understand a given research problem or topic from the perspectives of the local population it involves. Qualitative research is especially effective in obtaining culturally specific information about the values, opinions, behaviors, and social contexts of particular populations. Qualitative research methods are used to address broad and complex problems. They are also used when there is not much information known about a topic or phenomenon. They are not driven by hypothesis and testing and are not less scietific than quantitative methods. One method of conducting Qualitative research is by Interviewing. 2 Interviewing Interviewing is a simple way of enquiry that allows the interviewer to collect relevant information from the interviewee. 2.1 Objective of Interviewing Primary objective of an interview is to get information on peoples

    - Experiences - Perceptions - Opinions - Feelings - Knowledge

    This information may be specific to a certain topic based on the research area. Also, primary objective cannot be achieved without first completing secondary objective of Rapport building with the interviewee. 2.2 Types of Interviews Interviews can be classified broadly into three major categories -:

  • 2.2.1 Structured Interview

    (It is like a survey) Description and/or Aim of interview: Normally, structured interviews are done in a face-to-face format or via telephone using a standard set of questions to obtain data that can be aggregated because identical questions have been asked of each participant. Nature of questioning route: fixed, given order, and very standardized Type of question format/structure -:

    o Open-ended o Closed-ended with ordered response choices o Closed-ended with unordered response choices o Partially closed-ended

    2.2.2 Semi-structured Interview

    (Gives small room to discover new information) Description and/or aim of interview: From the beginning the focus is on gaining an understanding based on textual information obtained. The level of depth of understanding that the researcher pursues is used to characterize this type of interview. Nature of questioning route: flexible, but usually a given set of questions is covered, varying levels of standardization Type of question format/structure -:

    o Open-ended, yet directed at obtaining particular information (content, topic, aspects of theory, etc.)

    o In some cases, closed-ended style of questions are used 2.2.3 Unstructured Interview

    (Gives a lot of space to explore and discover new information) Description and/or Aim of interview: Normally, unstructured interviews are done in a face-to-face format and some would say you are trying to get participants to share stories. The researcher starts from a position of wanting to be sensitive to how participants construct their views and perspectives of things. Therefore, a goal is to allow the participants structure to dominate. Nature of questioning route: ask questions to get people to talk about constructs/variables of interest to the researcher. Type of question format/structure -:

    o Open-ended descriptive o Reactions to a given situation presented by the researcher

  • 2.3 The Process


    Few points to consider -:

    - Tell the participant what to expect during the interview - Seek permission to record and take notes - Explain the rights of the participants, e.g., voluntary, can stop at any time etc. - Use Probing. The key to successful interviewing is learning how to probe effectively

    that is, to stimulate an informant to produce more information without injecting yourself so much into the interaction that you only get a reflection of yourself in the data. Bernard, 1995

    Rapport Building When interviewing someone we dont just jump onto them with questions, we need to build rapport first. Rapport building is as important as major questions during interview. Start with a small talk and general questions such as Hello, how are you feeling today? Ask them if they need anything like water or they want to use the restroom? Grand Tour Question Ask them a Grand Tour question. A Grand Tour question is an easy question for participants to answer. It is usually very simple and descriptive. For e.g., What made you use that application on Apple store? This will make the participant comfortable and will also help him break the ice with you. Leading Question Make sure you DONT ask them a Leading Question. Leading questions are questions that subtly elicits the participant to answer a question in a particular way. In this case, he might give you an answer to please you which could make the answers biased. An example of a leading question would be: I really hate that application. What do you think about it? Avoid showing behavior that conveys if you are pleased or disappointed with the responses. Ask Neutral questions. For example, What did you like or dislike about the XYZ application?












  • Now that you have built rapport with the participant, slowly move towards the main interview topic. Maintain an open door of communication to follow-up with additional questions of clarification at all times. 2.4 Expectations

    - Dont expect the participant to answer your questions directly. - Allow silence. Give the participant a chance to think.

    3 Data Analysis Transcription is way of data analysis. While transcripting, use square brackets to denote -: - [inaudible] or - use [your best guess at the words spoke]


    Try your best to type every word. If there is an audio file, include words spoken on the audio. If there is a video file, include words about body posture etc. Dont add any interpretation of the meaning. Qualitative data analysis is about finiding patterns in the data. This can be an inductive or deductive process -:

    - inductive (the codes emerge from reading through the data) - deductive (the categories are informed by the theory or research question or analytic

    framework) There are two threats to validity of interview data -:

    1. In Deference Effect, people tell you what they think you want to hear. They do this because either they dont want to offend you or want to be seen as competent.

    2. In Expectancy Effect, the experimenters have tendency to get the answers they were expecting. This is because of experimenters shaping the nature of responses.

  • 4 Validity and Credibility Transparency is awareness and articulation of biases and initial perceptions and intuitions, analysis process and analysis choices and interpretations the researcher makes during the inquiry process. Systematic Methods can be used such as consistent use and reporting of data collection context, participants, and methods for analysis of the data. Seek out Alternate interpretations & explanations by Data Triangulation and Member Checking.

    Eakta JainMissing references


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