The following is a modified excerpt from Applied Qualitative Research Design: A Total Quality Framework Approach (Roller & Lavrakas, 2015, p. 344).
The Total Quality Framework (TQF) research proposal has been discussed in several articles appearing in Research Design Review. In “A Quality Approach to the Qualitative Research Proposal,” the importance of critical thinking in proposal writing and the essential eight sections of the TQF research proposal — built around the central role of quality design — are introduced. Three articles in RDR focus on the Design section of the proposal — one article discussing Scope and Data Gathering (i.e., the Credibility component of the TQF), another article reflecting specifically on method and mode, and a third article concerning the ethical considerations of the proposed study. Beyond the Design section, RDR also includes articles on the Background & Literature Review and Research Team sections of the TQF proposal.
Another section of the TQF research proposal is devoted to Limitations. In this section, the proposal author will methodically apply the TQF to produce a critique of the proposed research design in ways that are consistent with what has been discussed in the Design section of the proposal. That is, the Limitations section will contain subsections on Credibility (Scope and Data Gathering), Analyzability (Processing and Verification), Transparency, and Usefulness. In each of these subsections the researcher will acknowledge the likely limitations of the study design that is being proposed, and briefly opine on the likely implications of these limitations to the overall usefulness of the research.
No qualitative (or quantitative) research study is perfect (with only strengths and no drawbacks). By readily (and unhesitatingly) acknowledging that there are limitations in the proposed design, the proposal writer takes the “high road” and thereby strengthens the case that the proposed design is the best one possible, given the funding, time, and other resources that are available to support the study. It also demonstrates that the researcher will be cognizant of these limitations in formulating conclusions and making recommendations based on the study’s findings.