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Flashcards in 8 - Nature of Qualitative Research Deck (22):

qualitative research

usually involves inductive view between research and theory

-interpretivist in that is seeks to understand social world through people's interpretation of it
-constructivist in that social life is understood to be outcome of interactions and negotiations rather than fixed structure to which individuals conform and react
-naturalist in that disturbance to social world is minimized


ethnography/participant observation

researcher is immersed in social setting, observing and listening to people


interviewing types

in depth, unstructured, or structured


focus groups

several people are interviewed together, often using semi-structured format


language based approaches to qualitative research

discourse and conversation analysis


main steps of qualitative research

1. general research question
2. selecting relevant sites and subjects
3. collection of data
4. interpretation of data
5. conceptual and theoretical work
6. writing up findings/conclusions


unlike most quantitative researchers, qualitative researchers don't consider ________ to be central to work.

measures of concepts


elements of trustworthiness

credibility, tranferability, dependability, confirmability



parallels internal validity, interpretations presented in study ring true to people observed, entails following procedures and submitting findings to people studied for confirmation aka respondent/member validation


respondent/member validation problems

may lead participants to react defensively and/or demand censorship, relationship between respondent/interviewee may be reluctant to criticize, can respondents validate scholarly material?



parallels external validity, thick description provides others with database needed to assess possibly transferability



parallels reliability; keep complete records of all phases of research process, ensure records are accessible



parallels objectivity, difficult (impossible?) in social research, ensure researcher was not swayed by personal values or theoretical inclinations


goals of qualitative research

1. description and emphasis on content
2. process and flexibility
3. seeing through the eyes of those studied
4. limited structure


descriptive excess

whereby the amount of detail overwhelms or inhibits analysis of data


why is process and flexibility important in qualitative research?

-avoiding placing predetermined set of assumptions on social world
-keeping structure to minimum is supposed to enhance likelihood that research will reveal perspectives of people observed
-limiting areas of inquiry may prevent new/unconsidered aspects from coming to light
-researcher can change direction of investigation much more easily than in qualitative


critiques of qualitative

-too subjective
-difficult to replicate
-problems with generalization
-lack of transparency


what does it mean that qualitative research is too subjective?

-finding depend too much on researcher's values and opinions regarding what is significant
-why did the researcher choose to narrow subject down to where they did?


what does it mean that qualitative research too difficult to replicate?

-because it is unstructured and relies on researcher ingenuity
-behaviour is influenced by personality, age, gender, etc


what does it mean that qualitative research has problems of generalization?

-scope of findings is too restrictive
-is the small sample size representative?
-in most cases it is not the goal to produce generalizable knowledge


what does it mean that qualitative research lacks transparency?

-how were the subjects chosen? how were conclusions reached, etc?


contrasts between qualitative & quantitative

-numbers vs words
-researcher's POV vs participant POV
-researcher as distant vs close
-theory/concepts tested in research vs developed from data
-structured vs unstructured
-generalized knowledge vs contextual understanding
-hard reliable data vs rich deep data
-macro vs micro
-behaviour vs meaning
-artificial vs natural setting