The Total Quality Framework (TQF) offers researchers a way to think about basic research principles at each stage of the qualitative research process – data collection, analysis, reporting – with the goal of doing something of value with the outcomes (i.e., the usefulness of the research). The first of the four components of the TQF is Credibility which pertains to the data collection phase of a qualitative study. A detailed discussion of Credibility can be found in this 2017 Research Design Review article.
This article – and in similar fashion to the companion articles associated with the other three components of the TQF – explains the chief elements that define Credibility, stating that “credible qualitative research is the result of effectively managing data collection, paying particular attention to the two specific areas of Scope and Data Gathering.” Although a great deal of the discussions thus far have been centered on traditional qualitative methods, the increasingly important role of technological solutions in qualitative research makes it imperative that the discussion of Credibility (and the other TQF components) expand to the digital world.
The online asynchronous focus group (“bulletin board”) method has been around for a long time. It is clearly an approach that offers qualitative researchers many advantages over the face-to-face mode while also presenting challenges to the integrity of research design. The following presents a snapshot of the online bulletin board focus group method through the lens of the two main ingredients of the TQF Credibility component – Scope and Data Gathering. This snapshot is not an attempt to name all the strengths and limitations associated with the Credibility of the online asynchronous focus group method but rather highlight a few key considerations.
It is easy to fall into the trap of relying on the “why” question when conducting qualitative research. After all, the use of qualitative research is often supported with the claim that qualitative methods enable the researcher to reach beyond quantitative numerical data to grasp the meaning and motivations – that is, the why – associated with particular attitudes and behavior. And it is in this spirit that researchers frequently find themselves with interview and discussion guides full of “why” questions – Why do you say you are happy? Why do you prefer one political candidate over another? Why do you diet? Why do you believe in God? Why do you use a tablet rather than a laptop computer?
Yet “why” is rarely the question worth asking. In fact, asking “why” questions can actually have a negative effect on data collection (i.e., Credibility) and contribute bias to qualitative data. This happens for many reasons, here are just four:
The “why” question potentially
• Evokes rationality. By asking the “why” question, researchers are in essence asking participants to justify their attitudes and behavior. In contemplating a justification, it is not unusual for participants to seek Read Full Text
The Total Quality Framework (TQF) has been discussed in several articles appearing in Research Design Review. Some of these articles simply reference the TQF in the context of a broader discussion while others – such as “A Quality Approach to the Qualitative Research Proposal” and “Evaluating Quality Standards in a Qualitative Research Literature Review” – speak more directly about applications of the TQF. The TQF is defined as “a comprehensive perspective for creating, managing, and interpreting quality research designs and evaluating the likelihood that a qualitative study will provide information that is valid and useful for the purposes for which the study is intended” (Roller & Lavrakas, 2015, pp. 21-22). In essence, the framework offers qualitative researchers a way to think about the quality of their research designs across qualitative methods as well as a particular paradigm or theoretical orientation. In this way, the TQF is grounded in the core belief that,
if it is agreed that qualitative research can, in fact, serve worthwhile purposes, then logically it would serve those purposes only to the degree that it is done well, regardless of the specific objectives that qualitative researchers strive to address. (p.20)
There are four components to the TQF – Credibility, Analyzability, Transparency, and Usefulness – each pertaining to a distinct aspect of the research process. The schematic (below) shows the Read Full Text