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Week 14

Principles of Qualitative Research


My goal is going to be to try to be as short and to the point as possible on this list
and I will be doing it through the lens of communication.
Purpose:
The purpose of qualitative research is to harness the power of interpretation
to learn about the relationships and ways groups and people make meaning. The
purpose is to learn, the researcher is not some kind of all seeing interpreter and
critic but must engage with the data in an effort to make as accurate a
representation as they can and then turn that knowledge into some kind of practical
action, or identify actions that should be taken. Qualitative questions address what
numbers can not.
Problem:
Problems that are well suited for qualitative research are most things
investigating meaning making and involve human beings.
If I make an alternate reading of this question and talk about what are some
problems with qualitative research I would say that in its current state it is easy to
abuse the method and have an approach that is not systematic and has little rigor.
This is less a problem with qualitative methods themselves and more a problem
with institutions that expect less than rigorous work (but I should not be talking, I

do not think I will be able to produce truly rigorous work until I have a bit of a break
and can start a new project).
Text(s)
When conducting qualitative research, especially in ethnography, there are
many forms of texts that can be collected, formal and informal, electronic and
physical, keep your eyes peeled for anything that can give you insight. Additionally,
the two most important texts in terms of qualitative research in my opinion are the
final paper or video or whatever you create, and your field notes.
Argument with foundation:
One of the largest critiques of qualitative research is that it is not rigorous
and not systematic. Good qualitative research is systematic, repeatable, and is able
to fail. Good qualitative research engages with the data first and draws conclusions
second. One cannot apply theory until data has been collected. To do so would
create self fulfilling research, since it is interpretive. Interpretive research does not
find facts but rather argues a point from a systematic and rigorous foundation.
Presentational form:
Qualitative research can be shared in many forms. White papers, articles,
books, documentary, hyperlink narratives, performance, and really anything that
allows for the conveyance of narrative form. The goal of these texts is that in
someway they eventually become public or seep into the public sphere. The key is
that it gets presented, the research means nothing unless it has been completed.

Social Value:
Good qualitative research is able to help in some form or fashion those who
are studied. The process in inherently exploitative but there must be some kind of
value added. In the larger public sense the research should some sort of social
function, it should lead to some form of social justice (which means a lot of different
things to a lot of different people). In short the research has to have some utility,
whether that means for an organization, policy makers, or society at large.

Summation of class:
This will likely be my last substantial entry before the reflection on the
debate on Tuesday and then the centerpiece submission the week after that so I
want to comment on a few things with regard to this class. I think my overall take
away from this class is that I need to start practicing using these methods. I will
probably mess up for the first handful of years but thats ok since I need to get my
start somewhere. Not just in the conducting of research but I also need to continue
practicing writing. I can only prep and think about this stuff for so long before it is
no longer fruitful till I get out there and experience some ethical dilemmas and live
the research life.

Centerpiece update

After gathering my additional data I finally went into NVivo to do some


coding. I will be honest my first go through of coding where we chose the fan site I
did not find very much helpful information. While I knew coding was supposed to
bring some fruitful insights or at least make what insights I make systematic I was
somewhat skeptical as to whether or not I would find anything of use in my
interviews. I had read through my interviews a few times before a started coding,
and the first cycle of coding was pretty standard. I made a lot of large codes and it
took me till my second round of coding till I started to see some interesting
developments. I have a hand full of codes but the two that are the most interesting
right now are that of influences, stereotypes, and identity and where they over lap in
the codes. Though two of the interviewees said that their identities broke what is
commonly the radio personality stereotype, the phrases involving both stereotypes
and influences we coded in the same group and were often over lapping. And then
after the DJ personal identity code and influences overlapped. Basically, though from
the original interviews interviewees (especially one of them) state that they are not
the stereotype of what a DJ is would usually first talk about how there were media
stereotypes of DJs and that these DJs also influenced them. They seem to put a
mental block on that even though their influences were stereotypes, when they list
these stereotypes as influences they did not see it as making them a type of radio DJ
stereotype1. This could in fact be true, just because Darrin Arronofsky is a huge
influence on my videography and editing, does not mean that I only want to make
I dont think stereotype is the word I should actually be using but I am still
thinking for appropriate alternatives I need a word that somehow sums up that
they are performing a genre.
1

horribly sad video with quick cuts. It is also not a good idea to assume that these
media influences dictate their action in anyway unless they say so. Most of my
childhood was spent watching and playing violent video games and I consider
myself to be a pacifist. However, when combined with my field observations it
seems that there is a disconnect in the identity the DJs are claiming and the ones
they are performing. Is this because their influences affect them more then they
think or for any amount of other reasons. If I had time to do more work I think that
in light of the date I would change my question up a bit. I would be asking why do DJ
identities and their performances seem to be inconsistent. I think as a researcher I
am definitely missing something here.
With the work I am doing in this class I am not getting at what I think is now
my true question and goal for my thesis research (though this is helpful as it is
providing notes and information). What I am really looking want to be looking at are
the Unintended consequences of the implementation of radio automation software. I
have made the assumption that it affects DJ identities. It might do that but from
what data I have collected that does not seem to be the case. I am still collecting data
so maybe information will emerge that that is right but I think I should move on to
the other directions that the data is pointing me into, chiefly that in the policy realm.
The idea of looking for unintended consequences has been a theme of late in the
lectures and quite honestly it seems like the best possible starting approach for any
kind of research when dealing in interpretive research.