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Qualitative research takes place in the real world, as opposed to the laboratory, and deals with how people give meaning to their own experience. Then it is followed by an attempt to interpret the behaviour and the meanings that people have given to their experience. The objective of qualitative research is to describe and possibly explain events and experiences.

These often involve face-to-face interactions beteen researcher and participant

Step 1

Observations Interviews Cases studies

Step 2

The researchers need to be flexible and sensitive to the needs of the social context within which the data is obtained.

The data is then analysed and interpreted. To look for themes is more common than trying to confirm a hypothesis.

Qualitative words and anlysis Qualitative numberseasy to summarize and use in statistics. Meant for generalization beyond the sample from which the data is drawn.

Gathered through direct interaction with participants. Open-ended and flexible rich data

When dealing with qualitative research it is imperative to be able to tolerate a degree of uncertainty.

Researchers can only come to understand the social world through participants interpretations interpretative approach. Reality is diverse and multifaceted. The goal is to get a picture of this reality. To measure means to reduce it and therefore lose meaning.

Quantitative methods, such as the experiment, have been used partly in order to maintain the appearance of psychology as a scientific discipline with valid knowledge claims. During the 20th century there was a shift away from seeing quantitative methods as the only valid way of gaining data but also a realization that both methods are needed.

Purpose of research Characteristics of participants Researchers beliefs about the nature of knowledge and how it can be aquired (see next slide)




What is the relationship between the researcher and the researched? Can the researcher be objective. Can the researched ever behave naturally. No? Well, then reflexibility is needed. What can be held as truth? Accurate measures (natural sciences) or by being supported by something else (social sciences) How is knowledge gathered? Deductive (cause and effect, generalization and prediction) vs. Inductive (collected evidence used to reach a conclusion focus: to understand the process).

Means that the distinction between qualitative and quantitave research is a textbook creation and that there is no unified qualitative paradigm. In fact, he claims, they are not separated.

Exercise 1: try to fill in what qualitative research has in common opposed to quantitative methods based on what we have covered so far: Quantitative methods assume:
That variables can be identified (and operationalised) That The relationship between variables can measured by statistics. Realibility and objectiveness is seen as highly important (and possible) therefore controlled environments (like labs) are preferred. Aim: to infer a causeeffect relationship and to be able to generalize from the study. Eg. experiments and correlational studies.

Qualitative methods assume:

Provide rich data that is, in-depth descriptions of individual experiences. Particularly useful for investigating complex and sensitive issues. Explain phenomena that is, go beyond mere observation to understand what lies behind them (eg. why do people become homeless?) Generate new ideas and theories to explain and overcome problems. People are studied in their own environment, which increases credibility.

Can be very time-consuming and generate a huge amount of data. Data analysis can be difficult because of the amount of data and no clear strategy for analysis. Interpretation of data may be subjective (but reflexivity can help to minimize this)

This is often the aim of research, but not always so for qualitative research. Representative generalization can the findings be applied to populations outside the population of the study? Samples are often small and not selected for being statistically representative so this makes generalization difficult. However, if evidence from other studies confirms the findings (confirmability through eg. triangulation) it is argued that generalization is possible (Hammersley, 1992) Inferential generalizability same thing but with the difference that it is the setting of the research that is to be generalized to other settings. Transferability. Depends on the depth of the description of the context and this may allow for inferences to be made but needs to be supported or disproved by further evidence (e.g. transferability check through triangulation) Theoretical generalizability if the theoretical concepts can be used to open up new fields and develop further theory.

Trustworthyness How believable are the research conclusions? Breadth and deapth is gathered.

Internal validity
Conclusions and interpretations are correct as variables are well defined and measures well controlled.

The context is well described as it is unlikely that it wont have an impact on the findings.

The research conclusions can be applied to Different samples as the research context is controlled enough.

Data obtained cannot be expected to be the same Dependability means therefore that the researcher has Described all factors that might have influenced the data.

Repeated use of the instrument provide stable measurements and researchers using them Find similar results

Sujectivity is not only unavoidable; it is valued. Therefore researchers should give details of procedures and attempt To find examples that contradict the findings.

As many sources of bias from opinion are Eliminated from the research process.

A study is trustworthy if, and only if, the reader of the reseach report judge it to be so (Rolfe, 2006)

As a way to increase credibility, but also check transferability, dependability and confirmability triangulation is often used. Triangulation = a cross-checking of information and conclusions in research, brought about by the use of multiple procedures or sources. If there is agreement between these, there is support of the interpretation of data. Using triangulation does not mean you get a certain truth, but you get closer to it reflexivity is still necessary.

Method triangulation. Comparing data that come from the use of different methods. These could be both quantitative and qualitative. Eg. first using a questionaire to ask about eating habits in a school, and then conduct focus group interviews afterwards. Researcher triangulation involves using different people as researchers. This increased the confirmability and credibility of conclusions. Without this data collection and conclusions might be affected by researcher bias. Other triangulation thechniques include data triangulation and theory triangulation.

Examiners hint: to answer a question about the value of reflexivity in qualitative research, you should make reference to the different opportunities for reflexibility provided by interviews, case studies and observations.

Refers to the researchers need to constantly be aware of how and why they are conducting the research, and to recognize at what points their own beliefs and opinions might have influenced data collection or analysis. To undergo an interview with collegues is a way to expose possible bias.

Participant expectations the participants ideas of the researcher and the research which can affect the trustworthiness of the data. Pleasing the experiment (or the screw you effect). Researcher bias the researcher does not pay enough attention to the participants. This leads to the result that it is the researchers own beliefs that determine the research effect. Can be checked through interviews, credibility checks and reflexivity.

Sampling methods in qualitative research differs from those used in quantitative research.

The sampling numbers are generally smaller thani n quantitative research. To get random, representative samples from target population is seldom possible (or the aim) of qualitative research. It is not intended to be statistically representative. Instead, a sample is chosen because it represents important characteristics of a population characteristics that are the main concern in evaluation of research.

Purposive sampling the participatns are chosen on the basis of particular characteristics that will help the researcher to explore the research topic. Eg. specific experiences, social roles etc. It may be important that there is a diversity but this is not necessary nor at times possible. Problem the sample might be biased but this is thought to be lessened if the criterias on which participants were chosen are clearly documented.

The researcher simply asks participants in the study if they know any other potential participants. + time and cost efficient. + can be used to get hold hidden populations - Will most probably lead to biased samples. - Ethics: confidentiality concerns.
Convenience samples can also be used.

What sampling method would be appropriate? Why? Could another sampling method be considered? Why? What should you consider overall when selecting your sample?

In large these are the same as in quantitative research (informed consent, protection from harm, respect for the participants integrity and privacy and right to withdraw). Special here is to be open to problems linked to the private nature often researched, that the researcher might get personally involved and lose objectivity. Specifically in case studies anonymity issues (case study with covert observation no consentform or right to withdraw problematic).

Distinguish between qualitative and quantitative data. Explain strenths and limitations of a qualitative approach to research Explore the extent to which findings can be generalized from qualitative studies. Explain the importance of credibility in qualitative research. Explain the effect of triangulation on the credibility/trustworthiness of qualitative research Explain reflexivity in qualitative research.