qualitative research proposal

The TQF Qualitative Research Proposal: Method & Mode

TQF proposal method and mode

As discussed in “A Quality Approach to the Qualitative Research Proposal,” one of the eight sections of the Total Quality Framework (TQF) proposal is Research Design. Within this section of the proposal, there are six areas to be covered by the researcher:

  • Method and Mode
  • Scope and Data Gathering
  • Analysis
  • Ethical Considerations
  • Dissemination of Findings
  • Summary of the Research Design

The following is a modified excerpt from Roller & Lavrakas (2015, pp. 338-339) describing the Method and Mode area of the Research Design section:

The proposal author should identify the method(s), and the mode(s) within the method(s), that will be used to contact study participants, gain their cooperation, and gather data for the proposed study. The proposal should go on to support the selection of the methods and modes by outlining the strengths—alone and in comparison to other approaches—with the acknowledgment of the limitations of the proposed design.

As an example, a researcher proposing a face-to-face and phone in-depth interview (IDI) study of African American and Hispanic high school students in a particular school district would discuss the advantages of the IDI method in terms of the ability to establish rapport and develop a strong interviewer–interviewee relationship, thereby reducing the potential for bias (e.g., distortion in the interviewees’ responses) and increasing the credibility of the data. This researcher would elaborate by linking the choice of method and modes to the research objectives. For instance, the researcher would explain that the goal of understanding the deep-seated factors that impact academic performance requires a research approach that is both personal in nature and creates a trusting environment wherein the interviewer can gather detailed, meaningful responses from the students to potentially sensitive questions, such as disruptive influences outside of school (e.g., family life).

The researcher would then explain that no other qualitative method (or quantitative method) could effectively gain the depth of information sought by the proposed IDI study, but also acknowledges that the success of the study will hinge on well-thought-out techniques for sampling participants and gaining cooperation from the target population (examples of which should be included in the proposal). And finally, the researcher would note that the face-to-face IDI method costs more and adds time to the study completion compared to other IDI modes, stating that this is one of the reasons that some of the IDIs will be conducted via phone.

For a discussion of the Scope and Data Gathering area of the Research Design section, see “The TQF Qualitative Research Proposal: Credibility of Design.”

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

Evaluating Proposals Using the Total Quality Framework

The following is a modified excerpt from Applied Qualitative Research Design: A Total Quality Framework Approach (Roller & Lavrakas, 2015, pp. 345-346)

In addition to using the Total Quality Framework (TQF) to structure more rigorous and comprehensive research proposals, the TQF can be used by anyone who is evaluating a proposal for a research study that will use qualitative methods (e.g., members of a thesis or dissertation committee, funders at a granting agency or foundation, clients in the commercial sector). A TQF approach to evaluating research proposals effectively holds the proposal author(s) accountable for doing research that is likely to be accurate and, in the end, useful. The TQF provides a comprehensive system to methodically think about the strengths and limitations of the proposed study design and helps the reviewer ascertain whether there are outstanding threats to the quality of the proposed research that have been ignored or remain unanticipated by the researcher(s).

In essence, the TQF is a reminder to proposal evaluators that research integrity built around fundamental principles is equally important in qualitative as it is in quantitative research design.

The TQF criteria to be considered in the proposal review, within each of the four TQF components, are the following:

Credibility

• How the target population has been defined.
• How the list representing the target population will be created.
• How the sample of participants will be chosen from the list(s) that will be used.
• How many participants the researcher proposes to gather data from or about and the justification that is provided for this number, including its adequacy for the purposes of the study; a discussion of how the researcher will monitor and judge the adequacy of this number while in the field should also be included.
• How the researcher will gain cooperation from, and access to, the sampled participants.
• How the researcher will determine if those in the sample from whom data was not gathered differ in critical ways on the topics being studied from those participants who did provide data.
• What the researcher will do to account for the potential bias that may exist because not everyone in the sample participated in the research (i.e., no data was gathered from some individuals).
• The extent to which the relevant concepts that will be studied have been identified.
• How the researcher has operationalized these concepts in order to effectively collect data on them in the research approach.
• How the researcher has articulated and supported the research objectives and questions.
• How the data collection method(s) will be pilot-tested and revised as necessary.
• The precautions that will be taken to minimize (or at least better understand) the potential biases and inconsistencies that might be created in the data by those involved in data collection.
• The precautions that will be taken to assure high ethical standards throughout the entire study. Read Full Text

The TQF Qualitative Research Proposal: Credibility of Design

A Total Quality Framework (TQF) approach to the qualitative research proposal has been discussed in articles posted elsewhere in Research Design Review, notably “A Quality Approach to the Qualitative Research Proposal” (2015) and “Writing Ethics Into Your Qualitative Proposal” (2018). The article presented here focuses on the Research Design section of the TQF proposal and, specifically, the Credibility component of the TQF. The Credibility component has to do with Scope and Data Gathering. This is a modified excerpt from Applied Qualitative Research Design: A Total Quality Framework Approach (Roller & Lavrakas, 2015, pp. 339-340).

TQF Proposal Image-DesignScope

A TQF research proposal clearly defines the target population for the proposed research, the target sample (if the researcher is interested in a particular subgroup of the target population, e.g., only African American and Hispanic high school seniors in the district who anticipate graduating in the coming spring), how participants will be selected for the study, what they will be asked to do (e.g., set aside school time for an in-depth interview [IDI]), and the general types of questions to which they will be asked to respond (i.e., the content areas of the interview). In discussing Scope, the researcher proposing an IDI study with African American and Hispanic high school students would identify the list that will be used to select participants (e.g., the district’s roster of seniors who are expected to graduate); the advantages and drawbacks to using this list (e.g., not everyone on the roster may consider themselves to be African American or Hispanic); the systematic (preferably random) procedure that will be used to select the sample; and the number of students that will be selected as participants, including the rationale for that number and the steps that will be taken to gain cooperation from the students and thereby ideally ensure that everyone selected actually completes an interview (e.g., gaining permission from the school principal to allow students to take school time to participate in the IDI, and from parents/guardians for students under 18 years of age who cannot give informed consent on their own behalf).

Data Gathering

The data-gathering portion of the Research Design section of the proposal highlights the constructs and issues that will be examined in the proposed research. This discussion should provide details of the types of questions that will be asked, observations that will be recorded, or areas of interest Read Full Text