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Introducing Qualitative Research Methods cont'd

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In this class we will continue looking at some of the other features and more important features of qualitative research methods such as looking at what is the purpose statement of qualitative research method, how do we write a purpose statement of qualitative research method and what are the things to keep in mind when designing the purpose statement of qualitative research method.We will also look at the reliability, validity and generalizability of data when we are doing qualitative research methods, ending up with things to keep in mind when we are writing up the whole qualitative research that we have designed for our study.One of the things to keep in mind is also that whether it is qualitative, quantitative or mixed methods research that we are applying for our study, more or less the matter or the content of the study or the research question that we are investigating may remain the same.However, the ways in which we are approaching the study and the way we are analyzing the data of the study and the writing up of the study is significantly different in the cases of all of these 3 research methods.So, in this class.We will look at qualitative purpose statements.Now, it is important to keep in mind what is a purpose statement.A good qualitative purpose statement basically contains information about the central phenomenon that we are exploring in the study, who are the participants in the study, and what is the research site.And therefore, there are different models or design features for writing a purpose statement.And as I had just pointed out that there are, and these purpose statements follow the different strategic inquiry methods.Purpose statement examples that I will be taking up in this class relate to the phenomenology study, case study, ethnography and the grounded theory study.Now, before we look into the examples of these different purpose statements, let us first look at what are some of the basic design features for writing a qualitative statement.Now, one of the first is that we must use words such as purpose, intent or objective to signal attention to the statement as the central controlling idea.So, we can set the statement of as a separate sentence or paragraph and use the language of research such as the purpose or intent of the or objective of the study so, and so.Researchers often use the past or present verb tense in journal articles and dissertations and the future tense in proposals because researchers are presenting a plan for a study which is yet to be undertaken.The second point that needs to be kept in mind is that we must focus on a single phenomenon or concept or idea.We need to narrow down the study to one idea to be explored or understood.This focus means that a purpose does not convey relating two or more variables or comparing two or more groups, as is typically found in quantitative research.Instead, we advance a single phenomenon, recognizing that the study may develop into an exploration of relationships or comparison among ideas.The third point is that we must use action verbs to convey how the learning will take place.Action verbs and phrases such as describe, understand, develop, examine the meaning of,or discover- these kinds of action verbs keep the inquiry open, and convey an emerging design that needs to be kept in mind.The next point is that we must always make use of neutral words and phrases- meaning non-directional language.For example, for exploring the experiences of individuals rather than the successful experiences of individuals.Other words and phrases that may be problematic include useful, positive, and informing these are all words that suggest an outcome that may or may not occur.And therefore, a purpose statement must use neutral words that are non-directional in nature.The next is that we must always provide a general working definition of the central phenomenon or idea, especially if the phenomenon is a term that is not typically understood by a broad audience.So, it must be consistent with the rhetoric of qualitative research.And the definition that should be used should not be rigid and set but should be tentative and evolving throughout a study based on information from participants.So, a writer may write a sentence such as this, a tentative definition at this time for the central phenomenon is such and such.’It should also be noted that this definition is not to be confused with the detailed definition of the term section as discussed in chapter 2 on the review of the literature.So, the intent here is to convey to readers at an early stage in a proposal a research study a general sense of the central phenomenon, so that they can better understand information that unfolds during when the study unravels itself.The next is we must include words denoting the strategy of inquiry to be used in data collection, analysis, and the process of research such as whether we will be using ethnography or grounded theory or case study approach or a narrative approach.So, in the purpose statement itself, the intent of the research must be made very clear by the researcher.Next is that we must also mention the participants in the study such as whether there might be one or more individuals or groups, groups of women, groups of children, or group of men or groups belonging to certain racial minorities, or groups belonging to certain religious minorities.So, mentioning the participants in the study must form a part of what is called the purpose statement.We must also identify the site for research such as homes, classrooms, organizations, programs or events etc, where we need to conduct our study.As a final thought in the purpose statement, we may also include some language that delimits the scope of participation or research sites in the study.For example, we can always mention whether the study may be limited to a woman only ora a certain racial group and so on.So, these are the few things that need to be kept in mind when writing up the purpose statement in case of a qualitative research method.Now, let us look at some of the specific examples when we are taking up the different kinds of strategic inquiries beginning with the inquiry of phenomenology.So, the purpose statement in qualitative phenomenology study may look as follows.For example, Lauterbach 1993 studied 5 women who had each lost a baby in the late pregnancy and their memories and experiences of this loss.So, her purpose statement went as follows.This is taken from Lauterbach 1993 and the method of research here was a qualitative phenomenology study.And the wordings of the purpose statement were as follows, “the phenomenological inquiry as part of uncovering meaning articulated “essences” of meaning in mother's lived experiences when their wished-for babies died. Using the lens of the feminist perspective, the focus was on mother's memories, and their“living through” experiences, it assisted in articulating and amplifying mother's memories and their stories of loss.”And in this same paragraph, Lauterbach goes on by saying that methods of inquiry included phenomenological reflection on data elicited by existential investigation of mothers experiences and investigation of the phenomenon in the creative arts.Now in this purpose statement in the opening section, this was found in the opening section of the journal article under the heading ‘aim of study’.And the heading itself calls attention to the statement.If you look at this term ‘mother's lived experiences’ that would be the central phenomenon that the author is studying.And the author uses the action word portrayed to discuss the meaning, which is a neutral word of these experiences.And if you look at this term ‘meaning’ here, it is a non-directional term it does not portray whether it is a positive meaning or a negative meaning.It is trying to look at the essences of meaning and mother's lived experiences.So, this is a neutral word here.And the author further defines what experiences were examined when she identifies memories and lived experiences.So throughout this passage, it is clear that Lauterbach, use the strategy of phenomenology and also the passage conveys that the participants were mothers and later in the article, the reader learns that the author interviewed a convenience sample of 5 mothers, each of whom had experienced a perinatal death of a child in her home.So, this is how a purpose statement in qualitative research-based upon phenomenology inquiry can look like.Similarly, we can also look at a purpose statement based on the case study approach.This is a paragraph which is taken from Kos 1991.In this case, Kos conducted a multiple case study of perceptions of reading disabled middle school students concerning factors that prevented these students from progressing in their reading development.So, her purpose statement read as follows; “The purpose of this study was to explore effective, social and educational factors”.(Focus on these terms; explore, affective, social, and educational factors) “that may have contributed to the development of reading disabilities and 4 adolescents.The study also sought an explanation as to why students reading disabilities persisted despite years of instruction.This was not an intervention study and although some students may have improved their reading, reading improvement was not the focus of the study.”Now, notice Kos’s disclaimer that this study was not a quantitative study measuring the magnitude of reading changes in the students.Instead, Kos clearly placed this study within the qualitative approach by using words such as ‘explore’.She focused attention on the central phenomenon of factors and provided a tentative definition by mentioning examples such as ‘affective social and educational’.She included this statement under a heading called ‘purpose of the study’ to call attention to it and she mentioned the participants.In the abstract and methodology section.A reader finds out that the study uses the inquiry strategy of case study research and that the study took place in the classroom.So, such kinds of writing in the form of Purpose statements brings out a lot of clarity in the research that has been undertaken by the researcher and therefore it also leads to a lot of reliability and dependability with regard to the research that has been undertaken.Therefore, clarity in purpose statement is one of the hallmarks of good qualitative research.Moving on, a purpose statement in an ethnography.Now, this paragraph has been taken from Rhoads 1997.Rhoads conducted a 2-year ethnographic study exploring how the campus climate can be improved for gay and bisexual males at a large university.And his purpose statement included in the opening section was as follows.“The article contributes to the literature addressing the needs of gay and bisexual students by identifying several areas where progress can be made in improving the campus climate for them.This paper derives from a two- year ethnographic study of a student’s subculture composed of gay and bisexual males at a large research university.The focus on men reflects the fact that lesbian and bisexual women constitute a separate student subculture at the university understudy.”Now what is happening in this paragraph is as follows; with intent to improve the campus, this qualitative study falls into the genre of advocacy research.We have discussed basic meanings of advocacy research at the beginning of this course when we were looking at various different kinds of research that are under taken under the category of qualitative research methods.So this largely falls into the advocacy research method, but also these sentences occur at the beginning of the article to signal the reader about the purpose of the study.If you look at the beginning of the article, which says the article contributes to the literature and addressing the needs of gay and bisexual students by identifying several areas where progress can be made in improving the campus climate for them.Look at the focus on this phrase ‘can be made in improving the campus climate for them’.So, which means that this article or this research proposes to bring about some change, to bring about some transformation in the student culture or student climate or the student environment on the campus.Therefore, it falls under the broad head of advocacy research or what we have also been talking about what is called transformative research.So, the needs of the students become the central phenomenon under study, and the author seeks to identify areas that can improve the climate for gays and bisexual males.The author also mentioned that the strategy of inquiry will be ethnographic and that the study will involve males which are participants and the study will be carried out in the university which is the site of the study.So, at this point, the author does not provide any additional information about the exact nature of these needs or a working definition to begin the article.However, he does refer to identity and proffers a tentative meaning for that term in the next section of the study.Therefore, providing meaning to the terminologies that have been used in the literature, that is being used by the author in the journal article is of paramount importance when we are talking of qualitative research methods.Moving on, let us look at the purpose statement in the case of a grounded theory study.This is a paragraph which is taken from Richie et al 1997.Richie et al, they conducted a qualitative study to develop a theory of the career development of 18 prominent, highly achieving African-American Black and White women in the United States working in different occupational fields.In the second paragraph of their study, they stated their purpose as follows.“The present article describes a qualitative study of the career development of 18 prominent, highly achieving African-American Black and White women in the US across 8 occupational fields”.And they also mentioned that “our overall aim in the study was to explore critical influences on the career development of these women, particularly those related to their attainment of professional success.” Now, in this statement, the central phenomenon is career development, and the reader learns that the phenomenon is defined as critical influences in the professional success of the women.So, in this study, success is a directional word, which serves to define the sample of individuals to be studied more, than to limit the inquiry about the central phenomenon.So, the authors plan to explore this phenomenon, and the reader learns that the participants are all women in different occupational groups.So grounded theory as a strategy of inquiry is mentioned in the abstract and later in the procedure of discussion.So, what do we learn from these different examples of purpose statements?Now, one of the things that we learn is that it is important that we explain the purpose statement because it gives direction to the rest of the research that we intend to carry out.And therefore, a purpose statement is set aside distinctly from other sections of the research write up that we are undertaking, whether it is on literature review, or whether it is on the motivation of the study that we write as a process of writing up the research project.The purpose statement lays the foundation for where the research is leading to-one with regard to the intent of the study, second with regard to the participants that we want to interview or take up for the purpose of our study, third, with regard to the location of the site of inquiry and forth with regard to the kind of research qualitative research method that we are employing to be able to come to the rightful conclusions with regard to the qualitative research design that we have taken up.So, with this now let us move on to the last part of the introduction to qualitative research methods, where we look up what do we mean when we say that there should be theory use, what is inductive approach data analysis and ultimately how do we write up the qualitative research that we have begun.Now, when we say that there is the prime importance of theory used in qualitative research, there are various ways in which qualitative inquiries use theory in their studies.Now, one of the first being that theory is used as a broad explanation for behaviour and attitudes and it may be complete with variables, constructs, and hypothesis.So, for example, I have been taking the example of complementary feeding practices in many of my earlier classes in this course.And suppose we begin with this question of what is the social behaviour of a certain community that helps them decide about feeding practices that are carried out in that community, then here we are basically beginning with a certain theory on social behaviour, and that we are using as a broad explanation for the feeding practices that are being carried out in that community.And then we come up with a list of variables and constructs and hypothesis saying that let us say in a certain tea garden community of Assam, we go with the hypothesis that itis possible that because of the lowness of incomes and unavailability of the diversity of food items in a certain household, the mothers are not being able to initiate complementary feeding in the community.So, we go with this hypothesis based upon the theory that lowness of incomes may contribute to low nutrition outcomes.So, here we are using a well-established theory with regard to lowness of incomes corresponding to low nutrition outcomes.And then we are positing that theory in the context of a certain community and we are building a hypothesis that possibly because the mothers are lowly paid, they are not able to initiate complementary feeding in that community.So, that is how theory is used as a broad explanation for behaviour and attitudes.Secondly, increasing usage of theoretical lens or perspective and qualitative research.Some of these are feminist perspectives, radicalize discourses, critical theory, queer theory, disability inquiry, and so on.In the examples that we just took on qualitative purpose statements, we have examples of how feminist perspectives and queer theory has been used to write up the purpose statement.For example, if we go back to the purpose statement on the qualitative phenomenology study, here if you see when we are trying to look at the lived experiences of mothers who have experienced child loss or when they were pregnant.Here we are basically using a feminist perspective.The lens that we are using is that of a feminist perspective, with the focus on the mother's memories and their living through experiences.So it assists in articulating and amplifying mother's memories and their stories of loss.So, the lens that is being used is that a feminist perspective.However, when we are using the ethnography approach to explore how the campus climate can be improved for gay and bisexual males at a large university, we are basically coming with a lens of queer theory where we have already sorted the issues of patriarchy or bisexuality, and so on and so forth.So, there are different lenses that are used to study qualitative research or design the qualitative research that we have in our mind.Thirdly, qualitative studies in which theory or some other broad explanation becomes the endpoint which is also called an inductive process of building a theory.Now, what do we mean when we are seeing that there is an inductive approach to qualitative research?So, basically, this is a qualitative research inductive approach where we move from the bottom up.The researcher first gathers information based on interviews and observation.The researcher asks open-ended questions of participants or records field notes, then analyzes data to form themes or categories, then looks for broad patterns, generalizations, or theories from themes or categories and then poses generalizations or theories from past experiences and literature.So, going back to our example on complementary feeding practices- if I go to a certain community and ask them questions about and observe their patterns of behaviour with regard to feeding practices, particularly in the target group of children under 2 years of age, then one of the things, to begin with, would be by interviewing the mothers of these children with regard to the dietary pattern and the dietary recall of the children.What are they being fed?What is the frequency at which they are being fed?What are the items that they are purchasing from the market to be able to feed the children?What are the items that they are gathering from their kitchen garden?What are the items that they are getting from their workplace to be able to feed their children?Do they have crèche facilities in their workplace?These are some of the observations that can go into explaining to me the overall nutritional outcomes of the target group of children that I have studied.Now based upon my interviews and observations, I can also field further questions to the participants with regard to let us say, what has been the role of an Anganwadi worker or what has been the role of health professionals who are employed in this locality to ensure the survival rates of children under 2.Based upon the information that I am collecting, based upon the open-ended questions that I'm asking, I can further analyze my data and form themes and categories saying that all those mothers who have some consistency with regard to incomes and also have received some kind of intervention from health officials have recorded better nutrition outcomes among children than those who have not.So, based upon these kinds of observations, I can then form, look for broad patterns and generalizations from these themes or categories which might then go on to inform the larger report that I am working on based upon theories from past experiences and literature.And this is what we refer to as the inductive approach to qualitative research.With regard to data analysis in qualitative research, we will be following with some of the important methods of data analysis after this class.In lesson 2 of this week.However, these are some of the important methods of data analysis.We begin with raw data which are transcripts field notes and images.We then organize and prepare data for analysis.We read through all the data, code the data by hand or on computer depending upon the number of samples that we have collected.These days, there are numbers of software's that help us code qualitative data.For example, NVO is one of the software's which helps us code large numbers of samples that we may have collected.Based upon the coding of the data, we come up with themes and description of the data that we have coded and then we try to relate the themes to the description of the study based upon whether we have carried out a grounded theory approach or a case study approach.And then we finally give or interpret the meaning of the themes and descriptions, the sandwich is where the social constructivist approach or the interpretive approach of qualitative research methods comes in.And all of these steps starting from organizing and preparing of data to the final interpretation of the themes that we have taken up comes under the head of validating the accuracy of the information.There are different ways in which we validate the accuracy of the information that we have collected and we are analyzing.One of them is looking at various past studies related to similar kinds of questions that we have investigated and whether the lines of reasoning follow the similar pattern or whether the lines of reasoning are completely different or contradicting the previous patents that have emerged from earlier studies.So that also relates to validating the accuracy of the information.Now after organizing and preparing the data for analysis, we read or look at all the data, start coding of all the data, use the coding process to generate a description of the set of people as well as categories or themes for analysis, advance how the description and themes will be represented in the qualitative narrative, and the final step in data analysis involves making an interpretation and qualitative research of the findings or results.So, this is with regard to the analysis of qualitative research and this is with regard to the interpretation of the qualitative research that we are undertaking.Finally, let us come to validity, reliability and generalizability issues in qualitative research.Now, here validity basically means that the researcher checks for the accuracy of the findings by employing certain procedures and reliability indicate that the researchers’ approach is consistent across different researchers and different projects.Now, what are the validity strategies?These are some of the validity strategies.We triangulate different data sources of information by examining evidence from the sources and using it to build a coherent justification for themes.One of the references that I have mentioned here I would request the students enrolled in this course to visit this website which gives a very good example of how triangulation of different data sources is carried out.If time permits in the consequent classes after these, I may take up an example of triangulation of data.So, what are the different things to keep in mind when we are testing for validity?We use member checking to determine the accuracy of the qualitative finding.We use a rich thick description to convey the findings, we clarify the bias the researcher brings to the study.So, for example, as a researcher when I am moving into a certain community to look at their feeding practices, I do not superimpose my ideas of what is best feeding practice on the respondent before carrying out the interview.So, I check that bias and then give a correct description of what the respondent herself feels about the feeding practices rather than I gave a direction to what the respondent should or should not feed the child under two.So that is what is referred to as clarifying the biases of the researcher without bringing into the study.We also present negative or discrepant information that runs counter to the themes.We spend a prolonged time in the field; we use peer debriefing to enhance the accuracy of the account.This is one of the tools that we often use for looking at qualitative validity strategies. So often when you go to the field, you come back from the field and you talk to your co-researchers about the different kinds of descriptions that are coming from the field.And the counter questions that you receive from your co-researchers or the peer group of the researchers may help you in further refining the descriptions that you are bringing out from your research study.With further questioning of it.You use the description from the research study by questioning and cross-questioning the narratives that are emerging from your research.Often, we also use an external auditor to review the entire project- the research project that has been carried out or the research dissertation that you are carrying out is always subject to further reviewing.The purpose of which is to receive counter questions based upon the narratives that are emerging, as the reviewer might have information about various other studies that have been carried out in similar fields that may help us work or re-work on our description with a new lens altogether.With respect to reliability, the checklist that need to be kept in mind are as follows.We need to check transcripts to make sure that they do not contain obvious mistakes made during the transcription.We make sure that there is not adrift in the definition of codes, a shift in the meaning of the codes during the process of coding.For team research, we coordinate the communication among the coders were regular, documented meetings, and by sharing the analysis.We also cross-check codes develop different researchers by comparing results that are independently derived.So, the reliability check obviously holds a lot of significance when we have a lot of samples.While carrying out qualitative research, if the numbers of samples are more than 70, more than 100 and so which means that we have reached narratives from all of these different samples and that is where coding becomes very important and coming up with reliable estimates based upon this coding- there is a lot of importance.After ensuring for validity and reliability we may move towards qualitative generalization and the value of qualitative research lies in particular description and themes developed in the context of a specific site.The particularity rather than generalizability is the hallmark of qualitative research and therefore, qualitative researchers often do not go for generalizability.They do not prefer generalizability.As we keep saying over and over again that qualitative research is context-specific and therefore follows an interpretive approach.The social construction of your reality is something which is done by the researcher himself or herself.And therefore, particularity is the hallmark of qualitative research.Qualitative case study results can be generalized to some broader theory, generalization occurs when qualitative researchers study additional cases and generalize findings to the new cases.Now, let me take an example of a qualitative case study, which enabled us to lead to some kind of generalizability in particular research that we carried out in a certain locality where about 300 households were interviewed.The adult members of the households were interviewed with regard to holding of job cards with the help of which they are able to secure employment for themselves.