Definitions • Quantitative Research - investigation in which the researcher attempts to understand some larger reality by isolating and measuring components of that reality without regard to their contextual setting. • Qualitative Research - investigation in which the researcher attempts to understand some larger reality by examining it in a holistic way or by examining components of that reality within their contextual setting.
Different Ways of Looking at Things • Quantitative • Positivistic • Epistemological basis is Realism • Dates to the Age of Enlightenment • Qualitative • Naturalistic (Post-Positivistic [PRE?]) • Epistemological basis is Idealism • Dates informally to prehistoric times Formally to ancient Greece
Quantitative Research • Reality is independent of human understanding • Reality can be defined as separate and observable variables • Goal of research is to define and measure those variables • Most accurate way to measure variables is individually and in isolation • We understand reality by defining all the pertinent variables
Qualitative Research • Human understanding and interpretation define reality • Complex reality can be understood only as amalgam and not as simply a sum of its parts • Goal of research is to examine complex phenomena to define the reality within • To be meaningful, inquiry must be holistic and contextual
Researchers Argue • Quantitative researchers fail because they can neither adequately define nor accurately measure enough of the variables to understand complex natural interactions. • Qualitative researchers cannot rigorously examine the detailed structures underlying complex natural interactions.
Researchers Argue • “Purists” contend • Qualitative and quantitative methodologies are incompatible because they have different epistemological bases. • Using them together is “mixing paradigms.” • Others believe • Qualitative and quantitative methodologies are simply different ways of looking at phenomena • Using them together is symbiotic
Characteristics of Qualitative Research • Purpose is understanding • Oriented toward discovery • Uses subjective data • Extracts meaning from data • Interprets results in context • Focus is holistic
Advantages of Qualitative Research • In-depth Examination of Phenomena • Uses subjective information • Not limited to rigidly definable variables • Examine complex questions that can be impossible with quantitative methods • Deal with value-laden questions • Explore new areas of research • Build new theories
Disadvantages of Qualitative Research • Subjectivity leads to procedural problems • Replicability is very difficult • Researcher bias is built in and unavoidable • In-depth, comprehensive approach to data gathering limits scope • Labor intensive, expensive • Not understood well by “classical” researchers
Organizational Structures • Historical Analysis • Ethnography • Phenomenology • Life History, Chronology,Historiography • Case Study
Historical Analysis • Archival Research • Primary Documents • Secondary Sources • Artifacts • Relics • Oral Histories
Ethnography • External Observation • Passive Observation • Balanced Participation Observation • Participant Observation
Life History, Chronology, Historiography • Archival/Historical • Personal Journals • Written Journals • Electronic Journals • Electronic Media • Long Term Observation • Interviews
Case Study • Detailed, in-depth examination of a person, group, or setting • Multiple data sources, perspectives • Focus is on the individual or group, not the population • Meaning is extracted from observation • Findings are instructive, not generalizable
Holistic Approach • Researcher seeks a complete picture of a total, complex situation • There may be no attempt to isolate specific variables or to answer specific questions • If specific questions are asked, the answers are sought within the context in which the phenomena naturally occur.
Internal Validity • Validity is primarily a positivistic concept • In qualitative research, equates to credibility • The right setting and informants • Accurate reflection of situation, informant perceptions • Multiple approaches lead to similar results • Multiple researchers yield similar interpretations • Peer review/Informant review
External Validity • In qualitative research, equates to transferability • Transferability is responsibility of reader,not researcher • Provide dense description • Use nominated informant sample • Provide detailed demographic and situational description
To Seek Validity (Wolcott, 1990)(Think Credibility, Transferability) • Listen and observe carefully • Be candid • Record accurately • Begin writing report early • Use primary data in report • Use all data for final report • Seek feedback • Seek balance • Write accurately
Reliability • Reliability is primarily a positivistic concept • Reliability in qualitative research equates to dependability • Different researchers reach similar interpretations • Repeated examinations produce similar observations • Multiple researchers produce similar interpretations of the same data
Triangulation • Multiple perspectives, data sources, researchers, data collection techniques • Strongest evidence for credibility, dependability, transferability • Concept originated in navigation • Navigation using known points • The more known points/angles, the more accurate the “fix” on the unknown location
Corroboration • Multiple informants hold similar perceptions • Same informant responds consistently to related questions • An attempt to confirm consistency of perception not accuracy of perception
Constant Comparison • Collect and analyze initial data • Develop tentative conclusions, hypotheses, themes • Collect and analyze additional data • Test against initial conclusions, hypotheses, themes • Seek new perspectives, data sources • Write, re-write, re-assess, re-write, etc...
Discovery Approach to Qualitative Research • Identify setting to be studied • Conduct initial data collection • Analyze for emerging themes • Formulate tentative questions, hypotheses, theses • Focus subsequent data collection to test/expand initial themes • Questions, themes, hypotheses, theories EMERGE from the research
Analytic Induction Approach to Qualitative Research • Define specific questions • Define setting • Identify informants • Collect initial data • Develop initial hypothesis
Analytic Induction Approach to Qualitative Research • Collect additional data to test fit of hypothesis • Redefine questions or reformulate hypothesis based on further data collection and analysis • Search for negative case to disprove hypothesis
Qualitative Research: A Different Way of Looking at the World • Naturalistic • Holistic • Contextual • Rich • In-depth • Reality derived not measured
Unstructured Interview • Define basic goal • Select setting for comfort of informant • Try to establish rapport, trust • Gently guide discussion toward goal • Pursue profitable leads, tangents • Make careful notes or electronic recording • during interview if practicable • as soon afterward as possible otherwise
Structured Interview • Define precise objectives • Develop, validate, field test interview schedule (protocol) • Select setting for comfort of informant • Try to establish rapport, trust • Initiate interview using protocol • Focus on specifics of protocol
Structured Interview • Do not accept yes/no responses, probe for more • Pursue profitable tangents • Remain flexible to encourage informant to talk • Gently guide informant through protocol • Make careful notes or electronic recording • during interview if practicable • as soon afterward as possible otherwise
Focus Group • Define goals • Select participants • Establish rapport • Initiate discussion • Encourage free discussion, but • Guide discussion toward the goals • Avoid contaminating discussion with own biases
Ethnographic Observation • Identify Goals • Select site • Establish rapport • Determine critical informants • Make detailed field notes • Begin writing report from the start • Observations external, passive, balanced, or participant