In March 2018, Mario Luis Small gave a public lecture at Columbia University on “Rhetoric and Evidence in a Polarized Society.” In this terrific must-read speech, Small asserts that today’s public discourse concerning society’s most deserving issues – poverty, inequality, and economic opportunity – has been seriously weakened by the absence of “qualitative literacy.” Qualitative literacy has to do with “the ability to understand, handle, and properly interpret qualitative evidence” such as ethnographic and in-depth interview (IDI) data. Small contrasts the general lack of qualitative literacy with the “remarkable improvement” in “quantitative literacy” particularly among those in the media where data-driven journalism is on the rise, published stories are written with a greater knowledge of quantitative data and use of terminology (e.g., the inclusion of means and medians), and more care is given to the quantitative evidence cited in media commentary (i.e., op-eds).
Small explains that the extent to which a researcher (or journalist or anyone involved in the use of research) possesses qualitative literacy can be determined by looking at the person’s ability to “assess whether the ethnographer has collected and evaluated fieldnote data properly, or the interviewer has conducted interviews effectively and analyzed the transcripts properly.” This determination serves as the backbone of “basic qualitative literacy” which enables the research user to identify the difference between a rigorous qualitative study and Read Full Text
Research Design Review is a blog first published in November 2009. RDR currently includes over 130 articles concerning quantitative and qualitative research design issues. “Qualitative Research Design: Selected Articles from Research Design Review Published in 2015” presents the 17 articles that were published in 2015 devoted to qualitative research design. These articles discuss best practices in research design for a range of qualitative methods – in-depth interviews, focus groups, ethnography, multiple methods – and emphasize the need for quality standards in qualitative research design that lead to credible, analyzable, transparent, and ultimately useful outcomes. This quality approach to qualitative research is discussed at length in a new book from Guilford Press – Applied Qualitative Research Design: A Total Quality Framework Approach (Roller & Lavrakas, 2015). As we state in the book:
““If it is agreed that qualitative research can, in fact, serve worthwhile (‘good’) purposes, then logically it would serve those purposes only to the degree that it is done (‘executed’) well…” (p. 20)
The 17 articles included in this compilation are:
1. Social Constructionism & Quality in Qualitative Research Design
2. The Interviewee’s Role in the Qualitative Interview: Interpreter or Reporter?