The use of quotes or verbatims from participants is a typical and necessary component to any qualitative research report. It is by revealing participants’ exact language that the researcher helps the user of the research to understand the key takeaways by clarifying through illustration the essential points of the researcher’s interpretations. The idea is not to display an extensive list of what people said but rather provide quotes that have been carefully selected for being the most descriptive or explanatory of the researcher’s conceptual interpretation of the data. As Susan Morrow has written
“An overemphasis on the researcher’s interpretations at the cost of participant quotes will leave the reader in doubt as to just where the interpretations came from [however] an excess of quotes will cause the reader to become lost in the morass of stories.” (Morrow, 2005, p. 256)
By embedding carefully chosen extracts from participants’ words in the final document, the researcher uniquely gives participants a voice in the outcomes while contributing to the credibility – and transparency – of the research. In essence, the use of verbatims gives the users of the research a peek into the analyst’s codebook by Read Full Text
The following is a modified excerpt from Applied Qualitative Research Design: A Total Quality Framework Approach (Roller & Lavrakas, 2015, pp. 320-321).
The use of transcripts in qualitative research has been discussed elsewhere in Research Design Review (see this February 2017 article), emphasizing the idea that “it is by way of these transcribed accounts of the researcher-participant exchange that analysts hope to re-live each research event and draw meaningful interpretations from the data.” The creation and use of transcriptions, however, take on special meaning in narrative research where the primary goal is to maintain the narrative as a whole unit. To this end, the narrative researcher must decide how best to construct the transcripts so they retain the story as it was told, while also facilitating the researcher’s ability to derive meaning from the data as it relates to the research objectives.
This process might result in any number of transcription formats. For example, Riessman (2008) presents two transcriptions of a conversation she had with a Hindu woman in a study of infertility: One transcription was developed around the “co-construction process” (i.e., the interviewer’s role in the narrative as it was told), and another transcription excluded the interviewer and was Read Full Text
Among the 10 distinctive attributes associated with qualitative research, there are three that essentially encompass what it means to use qualitative methods – the importance of context, the importance of meaning, and the participant-researcher relationship. In fact, one could argue that these constitute the three dominant qualities of qualitative research in that they help to define or otherwise contribute to the essence of the remaining seven attributes. The “absence of absolute ‘truth’,” for instance, is an important aspect of qualitative research that is closely associated with the research (in-depth interview, focus group, observation) environment where the dominant attributes of context, meaning, and participant-researcher interactions take place. As stated in a November 2016 Research Design Review article, the “absence of absolute ‘truth’”
refers to the idea that the highly contextual and social constructionist nature of qualitative research renders data that is, not absolute “truth” but, useful knowledge that is the matter of the researcher’s own subjective interpretation.
Similarly, there is a close connection between the “researcher as instrument” attribute and the three dominant qualities of context, meaning, and the participant-researcher relationship. A July 2016 RDR article described the association this way: Read Full Text