2015 Qual Res Design

Research Design Review is a blog first published in November 2009. RDR currently includes over 130 articles concerning quantitative and qualitative research design issues. “Qualitative Research Design: Selected Articles from Research Design Review Published in 2015”  presents the 17 articles that were published in 2015 devoted to qualitative research design. These articles discuss best practices in research design for a range of qualitative methods – in-depth interviews, focus groups, ethnography, multiple methods – and emphasize the need for quality standards in qualitative research design that lead to credible, analyzable, transparent, and ultimately useful outcomes. This quality approach to qualitative research is discussed at length in a new book from Guilford Press – Applied Qualitative Research Design: A Total Quality Framework Approach (Roller & Lavrakas, 2015). As we state in the book:

                ““If it is agreed that qualitative research can, in fact, serve worthwhile (‘good’) purposes, then logically it would serve those purposes only to the degree that it is done (‘executed’) well…” (p. 20)

The 17 articles included in this compilation are:

1. Social Constructionism & Quality in Qualitative Research Design

2. The Interviewee’s Role in the Qualitative Interview: Interpreter or Reporter?

3. 25 Ingredients to “Thicken” Description & Enrich Transparency in Ethnography

4. Online Group Discussions: Participants’ Security & Identity Questions

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In-depth interviewers and focus group moderators typically work from an outline of relevant topics and questions that guides them through the interview or discussion. The Guide developmentguide is intended to be just that, a guide, and not a strict, prescriptive document. With the guide, the ultimate goal is to enable the interviewer or moderator to efficiently incorporate all of the issues that are important to achieving the research objectives. Maintaining clarity throughout the interview or discussion on the related issues is actually a more essential purpose of the guide than the actual questions or follow-up probes it may contain.

The most typical and effective approach in constructing an interview or discussion guide is to begin broadly and progressively narrow the topic area to the subject matter of greatest importance to the research objectives, i.e., a “funnel” approach. The funnel consists Read Full Text

The impact of bias (in various forms) on research outcomes is well-documented. In Research Design Review alone, there are many articles related to this issue; bias in the world of both quantitative – such as “Ask Someone a Question, You’ll Get an Answer” and Dose“Accounting for Social Desirability Bias in Online Research” – as well as purely qualitative – “Selection Bias & Mobile Qualitative Research” and “Visual Cues & Bias in Qualitative Research” – research.   One of the more significant sources of bias in qualitative research is the researcher, i.e., the in-depth interviewer, focus group moderator, or observer in ethnography. This bias is specifically addressed in the RDR article “Interviewer Bias & Reflexivity in Qualitative Research,” which highlights the importance of the reflexive journal to help address “the bias that most assuredly permeates the socially-dependent nature of qualitative research.”

An interviewer may bias research outcomes in any number of ways. For instance, he or she may allow personal beliefs or expectations to skew how questions are asked and/or Read Full Text

In all sorts of research it is common to ask not only about behavior – When did you first begin smoking cigarettes? How often do you take a multivitamin? Where did you go on your most recent vacation? – but also the “why” and/or “what” questions – What prompted you to start smoking? Why do you take a multivitamin? Why did you pick that particular spot for your most Just-the-Facts-Maamrecent vacation? It is usual for the researcher to want to know more than just what happened. The researcher’s goal is typically to go beyond behavior, with a keen interest in getting to the thinking that can be linked with the behavior. It is this “probing” that enables the researcher to make associations and otherwise interpret – give meaning to – the data.

This is, after all, what keeps marketing researchers up at night. It is difficult to remember a time when marketing researchers were not obsessed with the reasons people buy certain products/services and not others. Whether rational or irrational, conscious or Read Full Text

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