Research Design Review is a blog devoted to qualitative and quantitative research design issues. Yet, there is an imbalance in these discussions with many of the posts dedicated to qualitative design and methods. The reason boils down to the fact that there is simply a lot to say about qualitative design. And this is because relatively little is written or discussed in the research community in answer to such questions as, “What is the basis of sound qualitative research design?” “What are the necessary components to a ‘quality’ qualitative design?” and “How does the researcher effectively put into practice these quality design elements?” These are the questions routinely addressed among dedicated survey researchers yet too often absent in the qualitative orbit.
An underlying current running throughout RDR is the idea that quality design issues are important to all research, regardless of whether the researcher leans more to the qualitative or to the quantitative side of the equation. Pushing this idea one step further, there is an even more subtle suggestion lingering in RDR that researchers might do well to free themselves from their qualitative or quantitative “hats” and instead take on the mantle of Read Full Text
At the 2015 AAPOR conference in Florida, Paul Lavrakas and I taught a short course on qualitative research design. The bulk of the class was spent on applying the unique constructs and techniques associated with the Total Quality Framework (TQF) to five qualitative research methods — in-depth interviews, focus group discussions, ethnography, qualitative content analysis, and case-centered research (i.e., case study and narrative research). But before jumping into the application of the TQF, we began by talking about the distinctive attributes of qualitative research, particularly the emphasis on context and interconnectedness that is inherent in qualitative data. Indeed, we stressed the complexity — the “messiness” — of qualitative data collection and analysis, along with the unparalleled researcher skills (such as flexibility) needed to perform high-quality and ultimately useful qualitative research.
This course was one of a handful of discussions pertaining to qualitative research at a conference that is heavily weighted toward survey methods. As both a Read Full Text
In “‘I Wonder About God’ & Other Poorly-Designed Questions” (Research Design Review, July 25, 2012), it is argued that weak survey question design has a “potentially negative impact on analysis, which in turn leads to wrong conclusions, which in turn leads end users along a path of misguided next steps.” As one of several examples, this article highlights the ambiguity embedded in SurveyMonkey’s “The God Survey”; specifically, the problematic first question that asks how often “I wonder about God.” Poorly-designed questions raise serious concerns about how or if the researcher can legitimately analyze the resulting data (while also tackling issues of reliability and validity), a concern made more profound by the frequent failure to even consider the alternative interpretations respondents may give to survey questions. By failing to Read Full Text