usefulness

Elevating Qualitative Design to Maximize Research Integrity

The following is a modified excerpt from Applied Qualitative Research Design: A Total Quality Framework Approach (Roller & Lavrakas, 2015, pp. 9-10).

All research that is aimed at understanding how people think and behave requires a principled approach to research design that is likely to maximize data quality and to instill users’ confidence in the research outcomes. This is no less so in qualitative than it is in quantitative research; and, in fact, the distinctive attributes and underlying complexities in qualitative research necessitate a quality approach to qualitative research design. This approach requires qualitative researchers to build certain principles into their research studies by way of incorporating and practicing fundamental research standards.

Total Quality FrameworkTo that end, the Total Quality Framework (TQF) was devised to provide a basis by which researchers can develop critical thinking skills necessary to the execution of qualitative designs that maximize the integrity of the research outcomes. This framework is not intended to prescribe a formula or specific procedure by which qualitative researchers should conduct qualitative inquiry. Rather, the TQF provides researchers with a flexible way to focus on quality issues, examine the sources of variability and possible bias in their qualitative methods, and incorporate features into their designs that mitigate these effects and maximize quality outcomes. Integral to the TQF is the idea that all qualitative research must be Credible, Analyzable, Transparent, and Useful. These four components are fundamental to the TQF and its ability to help researchers identify the strengths and limitations of their qualitative methods while also guiding them in the qualitative research design process.

By holding the quality of qualitative research design to a deep level of scrutiny when applied across the diverse, multidisciplinary fields utilizing qualitative methods — e.g., education; psychology; anthropology; sociology; nursing, public health, and medicine; communication; information management; business; geography and environmental science; and program evaluation — the discussion of qualitative research is significantly elevated and enables students, faculty, and practitioners to design and interpret qualitative research studies based on the quality standards that are the hallmark of the TQF.

 

Roller, M. R., & Lavrakas, P. J. (2015). Applied qualitative research design: A total quality framework approach. New York: Guilford Press.

Useful Qualitative Research: The Total Quality Framework Usefulness Component

Our research is of little value if the outcomes are not deemed useful in some way. This is true for all types of research. Whether it is qualitative, quantitative, or a mixed methods approach, the “carrot” that dangles ahead of the research team is the promise of reaching worthwhile, actionable conclusions and recommendations for the users and sponsors of the research. Achieving this objective – reaching the “carrot” of useful research – is the product of the quality measures put into place at the data collection, analysis, and reporting phases of the research design.

The Total Quality Framework (TQF)* offers a way of thinking about these quality measures in a qualitative research design. The TQF is comprised of four inter-related components, each having to do with a stage of the research process.  Recent articles in Research Design Review have discussed three of these components – Credibility pertaining to data collection, Analyzability having to do with the processing and verification of qualitative data, and Transparency relating to the reporting of details associated with data collection, analysis, and the drawing of interpretations.

The fourth component of the TQF is Usefulness or the “ability to do something of value with the outcomes.” The ultimate strength of the Usefulness component is a function of the vigor – the attention to quality – within the Credibility (data collection), Analyzability (analysis), and Transparency (reporting) components. In this way, the Usefulness component relies on each of the other components independently as well as collectively. The goal is to maximize the value of a qualitative research study for Read Full Text