Qualitative Research

Reporting Qualitative Research: A Model of Transparency

A number of articles in Research Design Review have discussed, in one form or another, the Total Quality Framework (TQF)* approach to qualitative research design.  An RDR post last month pertained to applying the TQF to the in-depth interviewing method; while other articles have focused on transparencyways to integrate quality measures – in harmony with the TQF – into ethnography, mobile research, and the research proposal.  Separate from applications per se, an article in February 2015 discussed the compatibility of a quality approach with social constructionism.

One of the four components of the TQF is Transparency** which is specific to the reporting phase of the research process.  In particular, Transparency has to do with the researcher’s full disclosure of the research design, fieldwork, and analytical procedures in the final document.  This sounds simple enough yet it is common to read qualitative research reports, papers, and articles that too quickly jump to research findings and discussion, with relatively scant attention given to the peculiarities of the design, data gathering, or analysis.  This is unfortunate and misguided because these details are necessary for the user of the research to understand the context by which interpretations were derived and to judge the applicability of the outcomes to other situations (i.e., transferability).

There are, of course, exceptions; and, indeed, many researchers are skillful in divulging these all-important details.  One example is Deborah C. Bailey’s article, “Women and Wasta: The Use of Focus Groups for Understanding Social Capital and Middle Eastern Women.”  In it, Bailey provides Read Full Text

The Transcendence of Quality Over Paradigms in Qualitative Research

A graduate course in qualitative research methods may be framed around discussions of the particular theoretical or philosophical paradigms – belief systems or world viewunity – that qualitative researchers use in varying degrees to orient their approach for any given study.  And, indeed, if the instructor is using popular texts such as those from Norman Denzin and Yvonna Lincoln  (2011) or John Creswell (2013), among many others, students would be learning first about the different implications and approaches associated with various paradigm orientations, followed by (or along with) the corresponding methodological considerations.

There have been over the years debates in the academic qualitative research community about how best to identify and talk about these paradigms as well as quality concerns related to conducting research based around any one of these belief systems.  In the broadest sense, the most oft-discussed paradigms in qualitative research are: postpositivism – often allied with a more quantitative approach where the emphasis is on maintaining objectivity and controlling variables in order to approximate “reality”; constructivism or interpretivism – in which the belief is not hinged to one objective reality but multiple Read Full Text

Social Media in Research Design

It is difficult to escape the onslaught of attention that has been given to social media in the context of research design.  It is almost impossible to pick up a trade publication and not be struck by the breadth and near-frenzy of discussion among researchers concerning social media.  For many, Facebook, Twitter, online communities and the like are virtual fountains overflowing with consumer content just waiting for researchers with their buckets to scoop up every juicy detail.  As someone recently put it, “[Social media] provides a gold mine of information just a click away.”  Read Full Text