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Practical Research I: Qualitative Research

Module 2: The Qualitative Research Design


Hello, young researcher! Welcome back! By the end of this second module, you are expected
to show understanding of the various qualitative research designs, differentiate them from one
another in terms of purpose and methods, and come up with your own local and contextualized
examples for each.


Your EO for this module is a set of three research topics for each of the seven qualitative
research designs.
Your outputs will be graded according to the following standards:
a. Completeness (40%) – The student researcher is able to give three localized and
contextualized examples for each of the five research designs.
b. Correctness/Appropriateness (40%) – The given examples may be properly
categorized into the research design they were grouped in.
c. Grammar (20%) – The essays are written using good grammar and adheres to the rules
such as the subject-verb agreement, punctuation, spelling, diction, etc.

As usual, your answers to the various activities and quizzes included herein will be included
in the computation of your grade under Written Works (25%).


Stage 3A. Explore

Activity 1. The Recap

In the last module, we touched on the nature of qualitative research. We said that it is
interpretivist in its ontological assumption. That is, the truth does not exist independently of itself
but is dependent on the interpretation of man (as an experiencing-interpreting agent).
To illustrate, let me ask you: is an apple (which is usually red) red without man deciding that
it is red? Or is the sunset beautiful without onlookers saying that it is beautiful? Briefly discuss your
answer below or in a separate sheet of paper:


Whatever your answer might have been, this interpretation or meaning that people ascribe to
the things, or more properly phenomena, that they experience is the very subject of qualitative
research, the very thing you will search for in your own PR1 endeavours later on.

Activity 2. The Essential Questions

Now that we’ve recapped and supplemented our understanding of the nature of qualitative
research, it is time to ask this module’s essential questions:

1. How do researchers explore various spheres of human experiences to describe the

interpretations/meanings given to them by people?
2. What possible human experiences can I explore qualitatively in my own community or

Please answer these questions on a properly-labelled sheet. Of course, your answer during this
stage is temporary. Thus, you will have to write another set of answers by the end of this module.

Activity 3. Pre-Test
To give you a foretaste of the lesson, try to answer the pre-test below. Then, you may proceed
to Firm Up to see if our answers are correct. Just match the terms in Column A to the definition that
best describes them found in Column B.

Term Definition
1. Case Study This research design aims “to understand an experience from the
research participant’s point of view”; the “what” or “how” of the
experience itself.
2. Ethnography The research design is used to study a person, program or event in
a defined time frame and marks their growth or lack of it.
3. Content/ In this research design, the theory or general pattern of
Discourse Analysis understanding will emerge as it begins with initial codes and
develops into broader themes.
4. Phenomenological This research design calls for a detailed and systematic
Study examination of the contents of a particular body of materials for
the purpose of identifying patterns, themes, or biases.
5. Grounded Theory This research design is interactive and requires intensive
observation, interviewing, recording, and immersion in the
research locale as it seeks to understand the culture (the way of
doing things) in a particular group of people.

Stage 3B. Firm Up

Different authors would have different ways of identifying qualitative research designs. For
our purposes, however, we shall stick to the list used by Mendoza & Melegrito (2017). They are case
study, ethnography, phenomenology, grounded theory, inductive thematic analysis, narrative analysis,
and discourse/conversation analysis.

Lecture 1. CASE STUDY

A CASE STUDY studies a person, program or events in a defined time frame. It is often
presented in this format: the problem, the context, the issues, and the lessons learned. Thus, the final
report would always include lessons learned or patterns found that are consistent or connect with
existing theories on the subject matter.
That a person, program, or event would be studied over a particular period of time means that
case studies allow for holistic and in-depth investigations. Changes such as growth or the lack thereof
could be noted within the study’s defined time frame.
Subjects of investigation maybe an individual or a group of persons who would allow
researchers to gain deeper understanding of phenomena, validate earlier findings or gather more deep-
seated data not accessible to qualitative research.
Usually, these subjects/participants are chosen because their experiences/situations shed light
on a relatively new phenomenon. For example, the case of institutionalized children in 1980’s
Romania had to be studied in terms of their long term effects to verify the debilitating effects they had
on children—as was consistent with theories of child and adolescent psychology.
Data may be collected using a variety of means including direct or participant observation,
interviews, analysis of records or documents, physical artefacts or audio-visual materials.
Other examples of topics that may be the subject of case studies are drug-rehabilitated
teenagers, transgenders, gay cohabitation, success stories (or stories of failure), or any other topic that
is relatively new and needs to be explored in-depth.

Checkpoint 1. The lecture above gave various examples of topics that may be investigated using
case studies. Why do think were those examples given? What areas of those phenomena may be
investigated on using case studies?


Literally, ETHNOGRAPHY means “to write about a group of people”. It emerged from the
field of anthropology, practitioners of which often had to conduct their studies in situ (on site),
immersed in the community he/she is studying for extended periods of time.
Bronislaw Malinowski and Franz Boas, prominent anthropologists of the 20 th century
pioneered traditional ethnography which often focused on the cultural dimensions of life and
behaviour, such as shared practices and belief systems.
Ethnographic studies are often holistic because ethnographers believe that human behaviour
and culture are complex phenomena and are influenced by a lot of factors.
Thus, an ethnographic study would often shed light on historical precedents, the physical
components of work and living (artefacts), the social structure of the community (often dealing with
power and economic relations within it), and the symbols the community share (language, myths,
shared visions, shared meanings, etc.).
Ethnography belongs to the asking space of the research continuum and is therefore
naturalistic. Since the researcher is in situ for a prolonged period of time, s/he is able to get the emic
perspective, that is, the insider/local perspective devoid of external representation or interpretation.
Of course, participant observation is the main component of any ethnographic study because
it allows the researcher to observe individual and group behaviour in their natural context, living with
them for an extended period of time.
An important thing to remember is that ethnographies should not be limited to understanding
indigenous cultural groups—although it is the right research design to use in trying to understand
them, of course. Rather, it may be done and employed to any group of people.
For example, we can immerse ourselves in the world of various fandoms, i.e., the fandom of
BTS or any popular Korean/Thai groups and try to understand their emic perspective. This will
hopefully allow us to understand the dynamics of these fandoms and describe their motives,
operations, and even power or economic structures.
This example brings us to the concept of digital ethnographies which are, well, digital, in that
they are done online and that they often have online groups as their subject of study.
For example, we can join a group of teachers with thousands of members on faceboook and
analyse their online interactions, map their concerns, and describe the overall culture they have
created within that virtual space. Of course, this can also be done in other social media platforms like
Instagram, youtube, and twitter.

Checkpoint 2. Being netizens yourselves, did any group pop up in your mind which we may
investigate using digital ethnography? Describe this group briefly in the space provided below,
explaining why they are a good subject for an ethnographic study.


Phenomenology is both a philosophy and a research design. As a philosophy, it emerged from
the works of philosophers like Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger and others who viewed conscious
experience as the proper basis of philosophy versus ethics or epistemology (Smith, 2013).
Thus, phenomenology may be initially defined as the study of structures of a person’s
conscious experience. When we say conscious experience, we mean two things. First, we live
through the experience. And/Or second, we perform the experience. Either way, conscious
experience is different from merely observing or watching something.
Let us cite having a boy/girlfriend as an example. While we might gain understanding about
the dynamics of such relationships by observing our classmates, we cannot say that we have
consciously experienced being in that relationship ourselves. Well, until we do, of course!
In the example cited above, we can actually write a phenomenological study of having a
boy/girlfriend based on the conscious or lived experiences of our classmates. That is to say, we will
not rely so much on our own observations (otherwise we risk writing a case study instead) but on
their own linguistic representations of the experience. After all, nobody would be in any proper
position to verbally describe that experience than those who actually lived through it and performed it;
that is to say, those who consciously experienced it.
Thus, we come to realize the importance of the language used by the experiencing
subject/person/agent to represent his/her experience. In fact, much of traditional phenomenology rely
on understanding that language by:
(1) describing a type of experience just as we find it in our own (past experience),
(2) interpreting a type of experience by relating it to its context,
(3) analysing the form of a type of experience by pointing out its notable features.

There of course are existing debates in linguistics on the capacity of language to actually
capture or represent a conscious experience. Don’t we often hear people say, “Basta ganyun! ‘Di ko
ma-describe e!”? Nonetheless, that very way of describing an experience already speaks volumes
about the very nature of that experience—which phenomenological researchers might have to probe
more deeply in their interviews.
This bring us to two important and intertwined concepts you as phenomenological researchers
will do well to remember: epoche and eidos. Epoche (pronounced as “e-po-kei”) is a Greek word
which literally means the suspension of judgment. Thus in phenomenology, epoche is the process of
removing all biases and assumptions about a phenomenon or experience so that the system of
meaning-making used by the experiencing subject may be better explained and understood. That pure
description, explanation, or understanding of the most necessary and invariable components of an
experience or phenomenon is what we in turn call the eidos which in Greek means “shape”.
In simpler terms, we can say that as phenomenologists, what we’re after are the pure and
unadulterated description, explanation, and understanding of an experience from the mouths
(language) of those who actually experienced a particular phenomenon. “From the horse’s mouth,” so
they say.

Checkpoint 3. In the space provided below, discuss the concepts of epoche and eidos in your own



GROUNDED THEORY is an attempt to extract a general abstract theory of a process, or
interaction grounded in the views of research participants. This process uses multiple stages of data
collection and the refinement and interrelationship of categories of information. In this research
design, the researcher chooses different groups of respondents and constantly compares the categories
(of responses) emerging from them in order to map similarities and differences of information.
This allows the researcher to build a theory that is faithful to the evidence and is literally
grounded on collected data. Using this method, small events can become the foundation for a
wider/macro-level explanation. While based on micro-level events, the theory generated in this study
should still be replicable and generalizable.
For example, an in-depth study on the movement of a particular fish market (like the one in
Balakbakan) can be done using the grounded theory design. In this way, the researchers would be able
to note the processes in a particular fish market (where the fish comes from, where it is sold and how,
where it is transported to and how, etc.). Later on, this data may be compared and contrasted with
other locales (i.e. other fish markets), thereby generating a generalizable theory about fish markets.
The process is actually a spiral that starts by collecting “slice of data” in a substantive area of
enquiry, which are then codified and categorized in a continuous process that moves towards
saturation and results in a substantive theory.
What sets grounded theory from other research designs is its streamlining of data collection
and data analysis. This means that data are coded, categorized and compared-contrasted with other
data while they’re being collected (Charmaz, 2003). Guided by explicit and sequential guidelines,
grounded theory is the most scientific among the qualitative research designs.

Checkpoint 4. In the space provided below, explain the similarities and differences between
phenomenology and grounded theory.

THEMATIC ANALYSIS is probably the most common qualitative data analysis method
employed in the social, behavioural, and health sciences.
This design is used to describe and explain respondents’ answers by proceeding from a broad
reading of data towards discovering pattern and developing themes. This can be done both
deductively and inductively.
In deductive thematic analysis, the researcher prepares a framework (as expressed in the
research questions) for the themes to look for within the body of responses or texts. Deductive
Thematic Analysis, may be employed, for example, in a humanities research dealing with the analysis
of literary texts. To give a more concrete example, let us take Naruto as a “text”. A pre-identified
theory, such as queer theory, feminism, postcolonialism, etc., and its themes may actually be used to
analyse the said anime production as a text. Of course, the discussion will proceed according to the
themes dictated by the theory employed. The obvious limitation of doing thematic analysis
deductively is the inflexibility and bias set by the theory used to analyse the body of texts or
In inductive thematic analysis, little or no predetermined theory, structure or framework is
used to analyse data; instead, the actual data itself is used to derive the structure of analysis. Thus, the
themes emerge from the data. While this can prove to be more time-consuming, it is very useful when
little or nothing is known about the event or topic under study. Besides, it is more comprehensive and
is able to float unforeseen themes. Braun and Clarke (2006) set the following steps for inductive
thematic analysis:
a. familiarization with data
- reading and re-reading data in order to become familiar with what it entails,
paying specific attention to patterns that occur and noting down initial
b. Generation of initial codes
- Generating the initial codes by identifying where and how patterns occur. The
researches does this by labelling data and organizing them into more digestible
categories for efficient analysis. (A more in-depth discussion of coding and
categorizing will be given in Chapter 4.)
c. Searching for themes
- Collating codes into themes that accurately depict the data. In this step, the
researcher explains what these themes include and exclude.
d. Reviewing themes
- Checking if the themes make sense and account for all the coded extracts and the
entire data set. The researcher might need to go back to the previous step if s/he
feels like the generated themes or their respective components are incomplete.
e. Defining and naming categories
- Generating clear definitions and name for each theme. Discuss the
data/information that each theme includes and why that particular theme is
f. Producing final report
- Deciding which themes make meaningful contributions to understanding what is
going on within the data. Usually, researchers go back to their respondents if
possible to verify the accurateness of their representation.

Checkpoint 5. In the previous module, we touched on humanities research as another approach

to research. Briefly discuss the relevance of thematic analysis to conducting humanities



NARRATIVE ANALYSIS is an approach to the collection and examination of data that is
sensitive to the sense of historical arrangement that people as tellers of stories about their lives or
events around them. It is also sensitive to the discoveries people make about their lives in relation to
and as reflected in how they build or rearrange their account.
In narrative analysis, two things matter: the facts of the event and how the people involved in
the event make sense of what happened. In this sense, Narrative Analysis is both a data gathering tool
and a data analysis technique. Naturally, this design and its approaches are valuable in the social
sciences, especially in the discipline of history, which tries to establish both the facticity of events and
how peoples perceived that facticity—which of course might vary from one another depending on
whose vantage were trying to view things from.
For example, it has been 6 years since the people of Balacbacan were demolished from their
original settlements. As researchers, we can establish the facts surrounding what happened before that
day, on it, and after it. But we cannot stop at knowing the names. Rather, we will have to zoom in on
particular family stories and have them (as actors involved in that historical event) tell us how they
make sense of those events. For the sake of balance, we might also need to present the side of those
who authorized, ordered, and executed the said demolition.

Checkpoint 7. Cite a particular event which happened in your family, sitio, or barangay which
may become the topic for a narrative analysis.


DISCOURSE AND CONVERSATION ANALYSIS focuses on text as “object of analysis”.
Nonetheless, the text as object of analysis of discourse and conversation analysis comes from
recorded naturally occurring language (like conversations between individuals within the study
population). Thus, they do not come from textual results of formal interviews.
Both discourse and conversation analysis look into these conversations to understand socially-
constructed meanings and/or power structures between/among those involved in the conversations.
Bryman (2008) as quoted in Melegrito and Mendoza (2017) shared four themes in discourse
a. Discourse is a topic. Discourse is a focus of inquiry itself and not just a means of gaining
access to aspects of social reality that lie behind it.
b. Language is constructive. Discourse is a way of constituting a particular view of social
reality; and choices are made regarding the most appropriate way of presenting it and
these will reflect the disposition of the person responsible for devising it.
c. Discourse is a form of action. Language is viewed as a practice in its own right and a
way of accomplishing acts. A person’s discourse is affected by the context that s/he is
d. Discourse is rhetorically organized. Discourse is concerned with establishing one
version of the world in the face of competing versions; there is a recognition that we want
to persuade others when we present a version of events or whatever.

Checkpoint 7. Using a Venn Diagram below, compare and contrast narrative analysis and
discourse and conversation analysis.

Stage 3C. Deepen

Activity 1. Quiz it is.

Which of the seven approaches to qualitative research corresponds to the descriptions given in
Column A? Write your answers on the space provided beside each term.
Column A Answers
1. It focuses on the text as an object of
2. This research design may be done deductive
and inductively on any given data set. It is
also the most commonly-used qualitative
research design.
3. This research design is used to look into how
people make sense of their respective
4. The purpose of this research design is to
build a general explanation for things based
on the rich and observable evidence.
5. This research design relies on narratives (as
opposed to products of formal interviews) as
sources of data.
6. This research design is used to look into new
or emerging topics that need to be explored.
It is unique among the qualitative research
designs because it involves a long-time
observation for improvement or the lack of
7. This research design is used to study the
culture of any group of people and usually
requires the immersion of the researcher in
the research locale.

Activity 2. Infer to complete

Review the lectures on the seven qualitative research designs. Then, fill out the table below
with appropriate terms to complete it.

Possible Data
Research Design Purpose Target Participants Collection
Case Study


Inductive Thematic
Narrative Analysis
Grounded Theory

Activity 3. Classifying Sample Research Titles

Given below are sample qualitative research titles. Fill out the table by inferring the
qualitative research design used for each.

Sample Research Titles Possible Research Design Used

1. Games from the Mangyans of Balatero, Or. Mindoro
2. The Lived Experiences of Newly-Retired Teachers in
San Juan, Batangas
3. Postcoloniality in Four Short Stories of Dean Francis
4. Stories of Survival: Post-Demolition Accounts from
Residents of Balakbakan
5. LAYF: A Qualitative Assessment of the Youth
Formation Programs of Brgy. Laiya Aplaya
6. P********a: Invectives and their Role in the Identity
Construction of President Rodrigo Duterte
7. Youth Organizing in the Catholic Church: A Study of
Youth Organizations in 16 Parishes in the Archdiocese of
8. Like Family: The Lived Experiences of Non-Medical
Program Graduates in Taking Care of Bed-Ridden Senior
9. Activism and Negotiations Among Teachers of Online fb
Group Guro PH
10. The Pioneers: A Longitudinal Study into the Lives of the
First Batch of K-12 Graduates in the Philippines

Stage 3D. Transfer

Activity 1. Returning to the EO

In the beginning of this module, you were informed that the goal is for you to be able to
identify three possible topics for each of the seven qualitative research designs. Please refer to Stage 2
for the grading rubrics.
To finish the EO, simply fill out/use the format given below. An example is given for you.
Qualitative Target
Data Collection
Research Topic Participants/Subject of
Design Study
1. The Growth of the 7 owners of water-servicing Interview, Immersion,
Water-Servicing Industry in stations in Laiya Ibabao, San Observation,
1. Case Laiya Ibabao, San Juan, Juan, Batangas Focus Group Discussion
Study Batangas (FGD)

 Be specific with the topic you want to explore.

Activity 2. Going Back to the EO

After going through the lectures and the activities, try answering the EQ’s again.
1. How do researchers explore various spheres of human experiences to describe the
interpretations/meanings given to them by people?
2. What possible human experiences can I explore qualitatively in my own community or

Lastly, please answer this as well:

3. How did your understanding of research designs improve after this lesson?
4. What is your biggest realization about practical qualitative research after going through this

Congratulations for seeing this module through! Should you have clarifications, please do not
hesitate to contact me via messenger, gmail or our own fb private group.
Duc in altum!
- Bagwis

Charmaz, Kathy. "Grounded Theory." The SAGE Encyclopedia of Social Science Research
Methods. 2003. SAGE Publications. 24 May. 2009