Quality Standards

Is It Good Research?

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The TQF Qualitative Research Proposal: Research Questions & Hypotheses

TQF Proposal: Questions & Hypotheses

The following is a modified excerpt from Applied Qualitative Research Design: A Total Quality Framework Approach (Roller & Lavrakas, 2015, p. 338).

The background and literature review section of the Total Quality Framework (TQF) proposal provides the context for the research question(s) and/or hypotheses that the proposed research is designed to address. In this section, the proposal author must not only put forth the questions/hypotheses under study, but provide support as to why these are the ones that merit investigation. In doing this, the author should rely on the TQF to bolster the logical arguments that are advanced in support of these research questions/hypotheses.

The extent to which the research questions revolve around quality-design issues will depend, in part, on the results of the literature review and the nature of the research topic. For example, a proposal to study physician–patient consultations might state the primary research question as “What are the main factors that appear to contribute to the frequency and type of conversations concerning cancer patients’ sexual functioning among a representative sample of a clinic’s oncology physicians?” The researcher may or may not harbor a hypothesis along with the research question. However, depending on the literature review, the researcher might enter into the research hypothesizing, for example, that the frequency and substance of physician–patient conversations concerning sexual function are associated with how closely the physician’s demographic characteristics (e.g., age, gender, and race) match those of the patient. Or, a proposal on this topic may focus on methodological, rather than substantive, hypotheses such as noting TQF flaws in past research and hypothesizing that the author’s proposed methods for the new study will avoid the problems of earlier research (which the researcher may believe led to biased findings and ill-advised recommendations) and thereby result in outcomes that are more credible and therefore more useful.

Careful, thoughtful attention needs to be paid to this section of the proposal. It is the research questions and/or hypotheses that the researcher describes here that will play a large role in guiding the next section of the TQF proposal, the design of the research study.

The TQF Qualitative Research Proposal: The Research Team

TQF Proposal-Research Team

The Total Quality Framework (TQF) is built around the idea that a quality approach to qualitative research is strengthened by a host of essential critical thinking skills developed by the researcher and the research team. Indeed, the central goal of the TQF is to aid in the development of researchers’ critical thinking skills as they go about the design and implementation of their qualitative research studies. The TQF encourages researchers to stop and think about data collection considerations — such as sampling, mode, and interviewer bias — as well as the integrity of the theme-constructing process during analysis, and the ultimate interpretations and usefulness of the research outcomes. In this way, the TQF is squarely focused on

“bringing greater rigor to qualitative research without stifling or squelching the creative approaches and interpretations that skilled qualitative researchers properly embrace, practice, and celebrate.” (Roller & Lavrakas, p. 3)

The TQF research proposal has been discussed in other articles posted in Research Design Review. A general overview of the TQF proposal sections is discussed in “A Quality Approach to the Qualitative Research Proposal,” the Design component of the TQF proposal is discussed in three articles — “The TQF Qualitative Research Proposal: Credibility of Design,” “The TQF Qualitative Research Proposal: Method & Mode,” and “Writing Ethics Into Your Qualitative Proposal” — and the Literature Review section of the TQF proposal is discussed in this article, “The TQF Qualitative Research Proposal: Background & Literature Review.”

The following is a modified excerpt from Roller & Lavrakas (2015, pp. 342-343) describing the Research Team component of the TQF research proposal:

The principal researcher and the other people making up the research team (e.g., interviewers, moderators, observers, coders) that will be working on the proposed research are critical to the credibility of the data collected, the completeness and accuracy of the data analysis and interpretation, the transparency in the final documents, and ultimately the usefulness of the research. This is why a TQF research proposal includes a section that briefly: (a) identifies members of the team (either by name, if Read Full Text