The Total Quality Framework (TQF)* contributes to the conversation in the qualitative research community by providing researchers with a way to think about their qualitative designs – along with strategies or techniques – for the purpose of enhancing the quality of research outcomes. The TQF is a comprehensive approach that considers all stages of the research process – from data collection to the final “product.” Recent articles in Research Design Review discussed two of the four components of the TQF – specifically, the Credibility component and the Analyzability component. The Credibility component pertains to data collection and consists of Scope (having to do with sampling and coverage) and Data Gathering (having to do with minimizing potential bias, nonresponse, and other factors that may weaken the validity of the data). The Analyzability component of the TQF is focused on the Processing of qualitative data (e.g., the quality by which the initial “raw” data is transformed) as well as Verification of research findings and interpretations (e.g., by way of deviant cases, peer debriefs, the reflexive journal).
The third component of the TQF has to do with the next phase in a qualitative research design – that is, reporting. When the data has been collected and thoroughly processed and verified, the qualitative researcher Read Full Text
A number of articles in Research Design Review have discussed, in one form or another, the Total Quality Framework (TQF)* approach to qualitative research design. An RDR post last month pertained to applying the TQF to the in-depth interviewing method; while other articles have focused on ways to integrate quality measures – in harmony with the TQF – into ethnography, mobile research, and the research proposal. Separate from applications per se, an article in February 2015 discussed the compatibility of a quality approach with social constructionism.
One of the four components of the TQF is Transparency** which is specific to the reporting phase of the research process. In particular, Transparency has to do with the researcher’s full disclosure of the research design, fieldwork, and analytical procedures in the final document. This sounds simple enough yet it is common to read qualitative research reports, papers, and articles that too quickly jump to research findings and discussion, with relatively scant attention given to the peculiarities of the design, data gathering, or analysis. This is unfortunate and misguided because these details are necessary for the user of the research to understand the context by which interpretations were derived and to judge the applicability of the outcomes to other situations (i.e., transferability).
There are, of course, exceptions; and, indeed, many researchers are skillful in divulging these all-important details. One example is Deborah C. Bailey’s article, “Women and Wasta: The Use of Focus Groups for Understanding Social Capital and Middle Eastern Women.” In it, Bailey provides Read Full Text
“Keep it simple,” “keep it short,” and “make it fast.” These are the words that many qualitative researchers live by as they sit down to produce the final written report for their clients. The prevailing sense among some is that their all-too-busy clients don’t have the time, inclination, or research backgrounds to read lengthy reports detailing nuanced findings and method. Instead, clients want a brief summary of outcomes that are actionable in the short term. It is no wonder that PowerPoint reporting has become so popular. Who needs complete sentences when a key implication from the research can be reduced to a bullet list or an alluring infographic?
But what has become lost in the ever-increasingly-shrinking report is the discussion of research design. Where once at least cursory attention would be given to the basic design elements – this is what we did, this is when we did it, this is where we did it, and these are the demographics of the participants – in the first few pages of the report, this all-important information has been pushed to the back, sometimes to the appendix where it sits like frivolous or unwanted content begging to be ignored. Not only should the research design not be sequestered to the badlands of reporting but the discussion of research design in qualitative research should be expanded and enriched with details of the:
- qualitative method that was used (along with the rationale for using that method),
- target population,
- sample selection and composition of the participants,
- basis by which the interviewer’s/moderator’s guide was developed,
- reason that particular field sites and not others were chosen for the research,
- interviewer’s/moderator’s techniques for eliciting participants’ responses,
- measures that were taken to maximize the credibility and analyzability of the data, and
- coding and other analysis procedures that were used to arrive at the reported interpretations and implications from the outcomes.
The inclusion and elaboration of the research design in qualitative reports matters. It matters because qualitative research has a life, and it is only the researcher’s thick description of the paths and byways the research traveled that allows the life of qualitative research to thrive Read Full Text