reporting

Reporting What We Know From What We Ask

For most of us, it is important to write a final research report that goes beyond the questions we asked and the responses we received. Unlike a topline debriefing that may require a simple rundown of the questions and responses, our qualitative and quantitative studies typically Pop-tartsculminate in write-ups that provide thoughtful discussions of our analyses and interpretations of the data.

The consumers of our research reports take it on blind faith that the data along with the corresponding questions and issues are reported accurately, and that the researchers’ interpretations of the findings are consistent with both the data and the questions asked or issues raised.   And yet blind faith is not always enough. Those are the times when a closer look at what the research actually asked and what is actually reported is needed.

One example is a July 2014 report from Gallup on its research concerning Americans’ consumption habits. The report, in part, shows that nearly all (more than 90%) Read Full Text

Maintaining the Life of Qualitative Research: Why Reporting Research Design Matters

“Keep it simple,” “keep it short,” and “make it fast.”  These are the words that many qualitative researchers live by as they sit down to produce the final written report for CPRtheir clients.  The prevailing sense among some is that their all-too-busy clients do not have the time, inclination, or research backgrounds to read lengthy reports detailing nuanced findings and method.  Instead, clients want a brief summary of outcomes that are actionable in the short term.  It is no wonder that PowerPoint reporting has become so popular.  Who needs complete sentences when a key implication from the research can be reduced to a bullet list or an alluring infographic?

But what has become lost in the ever-increasingly-shrinking report is the discussion of research design.  Where once at least cursory attention would be given to the basic design elements – this is what we did, this is when we did it, this is where we did it, and these are the demographics of the participants – in the first few pages of the report, this all-important information has been pushed to the back, sometimes to the appendix where it sits like frivolous or unwanted content begging to be ignored.  Not only should the research design not be sequestered to the badlands of reporting but the discussion of research design in qualitative research should be expanded and enriched with details of the:

  • qualitative method that was used (along with the rationale for using that method),
  • population of interest,
  • sample selection and composition of the participants,
  • basis by which the interviewer’s/moderator’s guide was developed,
  • reason that particular field sites and not others were chosen for the research,
  • interviewer’s/moderator’s techniques for eliciting participants’ responses,
  • measures that were taken to maximize the credibility and analyzability of the data, and
  • coding and other analysis procedures that were used to arrive at the reported interpretations and implications from the outcomes.

The inclusion and elaboration of the research design in qualitative reports matters.  It matters because qualitative research has a life, and it is only the researcher’s thick description of the paths and byways the research traveled that allows the life of qualitative research to thrive Read Full Text

Casting a Light Into the Inner Workings of Qualitative Research

Research Design Review has discussed the idea of transparency on several occasions.  A post in 2012, titled “Designing Qualitative Research to Produce Outcomes You Can Use,” briefly mentioned the contribution transparency makes to the ultimate usefulnessTransparent squid of a qualitative research study emphasizing that full disclosure of the study’s details “empowers the reader of the research to make his or her own judgments as to the integrity of the research (Is it good research?) as well as its usefulness in furthering new ideas, next steps, and new applications.”  The goal of transparency is to provide an audit trail in the final research document that allows the reader to duplicate the research (if that were possible), derive similar conclusions from the data as presented, or apply the research in other contexts.  Transparency is important.

Transparency in the final document goes way beyond a simple account of the number and time frame when interviews, groups, or observations were conducted and a Read Full Text