Paper III Qualitative research methodology
What is qualitative research? • Qualitative research is designed to reveal a target audience’s range of behavior and the perceptions that drive it with reference to specific topics or issues. • It uses in-depth studies of small groups of people to guide and support the construction of hypotheses. The results of qualitative research are descriptive rather than predictive.
Why does qualitative research work? Several unique aspects of qualitative research contribute to rich, insightful results: • Interaction among respondents, as they build on each other’s comments and ideas. • The dynamic nature of the interview or group discussion process, which engages respondents more actively than is possible in more structured survey. • The opportunity to probe ("Help me understand why you feel that way") enabling the researcher to reach beyond initial responses and rationales.
Why does qualitative research work? • The opportunity to observe, record and interpret non-verbal communication (i.e., body language, voice intonation) as part of a respondent’s feedback, which is valuable during interviews or discussions, and during analysis. • The opportunity to engage respondents in "play" such as projective techniques and exercises, overcoming the self-consciousness that can inhibit spontaneous reactions and comments.
Why does qualitative research work? • Thus, it adds a human aspect to research that is not present in most quantitative data.
Objective 1.1 Distinguish between qualitative and quantitative data?
From what we just learned and from reflecting on your previous IA, what differences do we initially see with Qualitative and Quantitative data?
Differences between qualitative and quantitative data? • Qualitative research explores attitudes, behavior and experiences through such methods as interviews or focus groups. • It attempts to get an in-depth opinion from participants. As it is attitudes, behavior and experiences which are important, fewer people take part in the research, but the contact with these people tends to last a lot longer. As the name suggest, it is quality over quantity.
Differences between qualitative and quantitative data? Qualitative research is concerned with developing explanations of social phenomena. That is to say, it aims to help us to understand the world in which we live and why things are the way they are. It is concerned with the social aspects of our world and seeks to answer questions about: • Why people behave the way they do • How opinions and attitudes are formed • How people are affected by the events that go on around them • How and why cultures have developed in the way they have • The differences between social groups
Differences between qualitative and quantitative data? Qualitative research is concerned with finding the answers to questions which begin with: why? how? in what way?This is usually open-ended in design. Quantitative research, on the other hand, is more concerned with questions about: how much? how many? how often? to what extent? This is usually closed-ended in design.
Characteristics of qualitative data • Qualitative research is concerned with the opinions, experiences and feelings of individuals producing subjective data. Hence the use of observations and interviews. What do we mean by subjective data? • Qualitative research describes social phenomena as they occur naturally. No attempt is made to manipulate the situation under study as is the case with experimental quantitative research. Most qualitative research is done in a natural setting. • Understanding of a situation is gained through a holistic perspective. WherasQuantitative research depends on the ability to identify a set of variables.
Characteristics of qualitative data • Data are used to develop concepts and theories that help us to understand the social world. This is an inductive approach to the development of theory. Quantitative research is deductive in that it tests theories which have already been proposed • Qualitative data are collected through direct encounters with individuals, through one to one interviews or group interviews or by observation. Data collection is time consuming. This can also be seen as a limitation to qualitative research.
Characteristics of qualitative data • Different sampling techniques are used. In quantitative research, sampling seeks to demonstrate representativeness of findings through random selection of subjects. • Qualitative sampling techniques are concerned with seeking information from specific groups and subgroups in the population. • Criteria used to assess reliability and validity differ from those used in quantitative research
Terms associated with each research method Qualitative Research Quantitative Research Subjective Objective Holistic Reductionist Phenomenological Scientific Anti positivist Positivist Descriptive Experimental Naturalistic Contrived Inductive Deductive
Other differences between Qualitative and Quantitative data • Each of the various features of qualitative research may be viewed as a strength or as a weakness. This depends on the original purpose of the research. • For example, one common criticism levied at qualitative research is that the results of a study may not be generalizable to a larger population because the sample group was small and the subjects were not chosen randomly. • But the original research question may have sought insight into a specific subgroup of the population, not the general population because the subgroup is “special” or different from the general population and that specialness is the focus of the research.
Other differences between Qualitative and Quantitative data cont…. • The small sample may have been necessary because very few subjects were available such as is the case with some ethnic groups or patient groups suffering from a rare condition. • In such studies, generalizability of the findings to a wider, more diverse population is not an aim. • This is a very important fact regarding qualitative data.
Objective 1.2 Explain strengths and limitations of a qualitative approach to research?
Note: You must explain all of the strengths and limitations that you list.
Strengths of Qualitative Data • Useful for studying a limited number of cases in depth (such as cultural bound syndromes). • Useful for describing complex phenomena (the rise of ADHD cases in Western teen females). • Can conduct cross-case comparisons and analysis (such as BN in males and females). • Provides understanding and description of people’s personal experiences of phenomena (i.e., the emic or insider’s viewpoint). • Can describe in rich detail phenomena as they are situated and embedded in local contexts(western etiologies of depression).
Other Strengths of Qualitative Data….. • It enables more complex aspects of a persons experience to be studied. • Fewer restriction or assumptions are placed on the data to be collected. For example, if I measure depression by asking ten 1-7 scale questions, I can only collect data on these ten things I’m asking about • Not everything can be quantified, or quantified easily, and an advantage of qualitative research is that it can investigate these things (for example, individual experiences). Why is it important to account for individual differences in research?
Limitations of Qualitative Data • Knowledge produced might not generalize to other people or other settings (i.e., findings might be unique to the relatively few people included in the research study). • It is difficult to make quantitative predictions. Why is this? • It is more difficult to test hypotheses and theories with large participant pools. Why is this?
Limitations of Qualitative Data • It generally takes more time to collect the data when compared to quantitative research. Give examples. • Data analysis is often time consuming. Give examples of why. • The results are more easily influenced by the researcher’s personal biases and characteristics. How so?
Objective 1.3 To what extent can findings be generalized from qualitative studies?
Note: This questions invites you to either discuss the merit or lack thereof of generalizability within qualitative research.
The Generalizability of Qualitative Research…..Or the lack thereof • Despite the many positive aspects of qualitative research, studies continue to be criticized for their lack of objectivity and generalizability. • What do we mean by objectivity? Explain this to the reader. • What do we mean by generalizability? Explain this to the reader.
Is it possible to generalize with qualitative data? • The term generalizability is defined as the degree to which the findings can be applied to the entire population. It is a key goal of most psychological research. • BUT qualitative research is often criticized for its lack of objectivity and generalizability. There are two things to consider; • Generalizability is not important to qualitative research • Certain types of generalizability may apply.
2. Certain types of generalizability may apply. • Qualitative studies are not generalizable in the traditional sense of the word, nor do they claim to be. They have other redeeming features which makes them highly valuable in the education community. • Partial generalizations may be possible to similar populations, but even this should not be a primary concern of qualitative research.
Generalizing from case studies. In general, case studies; • Can’t be generalized to other populations (i.e. unless confirmed from other studies) • May be used for inferential generalization-If findings can be transferred to another setting. • Can have theoretical generalization-If further research finds similar patterns.
Generalizing from case studies. • Problems related to sampling and generalizations may have little relevance to the goals of the study and the reality of the situation.
2. Certain types of generalizability may apply. • The goal of a study may be to focuses on a selected contemporary phenomenon such as child abuse or addiction where in-depth descriptions would be an essential component of the process. • In such situations, small qualitative studies can gain a more personal understanding of the phenomenon and the results can potentially contribute valuable knowledge to the community.
Objective 1.4 Discuss ethical considerations in qualitative research?
First things first, what are ethical considerations? This should be discussed in your essay.
Ethical Considerations • Ethics are codes or rules which govern that practices of a research study. • It dictates how information, and participant relationships should be managed. Code of ethics and the laws are mutually exclusive. • An action may be legal but unethical. However some acts are both illegal and unethical. • Ethical considerations occur when you are required to use these rules to better serve your participant in your research study.
All researchers are responsible for ensuring that participants • Are well-informed about the purpose of the research they are being asked to participate in • Understand the risks they may face as a result of being part of the research • Understand the benefits that might accrue to them as a result of participating • Feel free to make an independent decision without fear of negative consequences
Issues in Qualitative Research • Protection of participants through the informed consent process favors formalized interaction between researcher and participant. • Strength of qualitative research methods often lies in the informality of the communicationas well as the iterative nature of the research process. • How can we reconcile these two conflicting dynamics?
Four ethical considerations relevant to the unstructured features of qualitative research. • Informed consent from all participants is required. • Anonymity and confidentiality are guaranteed. • Participants are protected from potential harm. • Researchers are protected from potential harm.
Informed consent (APA , 2011) • Purpose of the study The aim of your interview, case study, etc. • Everything the participant is required to do. A step by step breakdown of what you want the participant to do. • Potential risks and benefits from participation What are the possible threats that your participant may face? • Any situation where participants might be identified or quoted. • Voluntary participation Participation must always be voluntary. • Any anticipated factors that might influence a person’s decision to participate.
Informed consent (APA , 2011) cont. • Any possible consequences of leaving the study before it ends. Loss of inducement, etc. • Any inducements for participation (such as pay) • How the data will be used. • How to contact someone to find out the results of the study. • Permission from parents for minors
Confidentiality and Anonymity • Confidentiality and anonymity are related but distinct concepts. • The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines confidentiality as: ‘spoken or written in confidence; charged with secrets’ while anonymity is defined as: ‘of unknown name, of unknown authorship’.
Confidentiality and Anonymity • To assure someone of confidentiality means that what has been discussed will not be repeated, or at least, not without permission. • The notion of confidentiality (and anonymity) is invariably raised and discussed with research participants prior to their participation in research. • These issues are usually discussed in the informed consent form.
Confidentiality and Anonymity • In the research context, confidentiality (as it is commonly understood) makes little sense. • Confidential research cannot be conducted; researchers have a duty to report on the findings of their research and they cannot do so if the data they collect is confidential (i.e. cannot be revealed).
Confidentiality and Anonymity • What researchers can do is to ensure they do not disclose identifiable information about participants and to try to protect the identity of research participants through various processes designed to anonymize them. • The extent to which anonymization is successful varies according to the research context. In this respect confidentiality cannot be assured; researchers can claim that they will endeavor to ensure to the best of their ability that participants are not able to be identified but they cannot promise that this will be the case.
Objective 1.5 Discuss sampling techniques appropriate to qualitative research?
Sampling in Qualitative Research • Even if it were possible, it is not necessary to collect data from everyone in a community in order to get valid findings. • In qualitative research, only a sample (that is, a subset) of a population is selected for any given study. • The study’s research objectives and the characteristics of the study population (such as size and diversity) determine which and how many people to select.
Sampling in Qualitative Research • We will discuss threeof the most common sampling methods used in qualitative research: 1. Purposive sampling 2. Quota sampling, and 3. Snowball sampling.
What is purposive sampling? Purposive sampling, one of the most common sampling strategies, groups participants according to preselected criteria relevant to a particular research question (for example, Minority women in the IB program).