survey research

Helping Survey Data “Line Up”: Qualitative Lends a Hand

At the 2015 AAPOR conference in Florida, Paul Lavrakas and I tauducks-in-a-row-threeght a short course on qualitative research design. The bulk of the class was spent on applying the unique constructs and techniques associated with the Total Quality Framework (TQF) to five qualitative research methods — in-depth interviews, focus group discussions, ethnography, qualitative content analysis, and case-centered research (i.e., case study and narrative research). But before jumping into the application of the TQF, we began by talking about the distinctive attributes of qualitative research, particularly the emphasis on context and interconnectedness that is inherent in qualitative data. Indeed, we stressed the complexity — the “messiness” — of qualitative data collection and analysis, along with the unparalleled researcher skills (such as flexibility) needed to perform high-quality and ultimately useful qualitative research.

This course was one of a handful of discussions pertaining to qualitative research at a conference that is heavily weighted toward survey methods. As both a Read Full Text

A Qualitative Approach to Survey Research Design: Shedding Light on Survey Responses

In “‘I Wonder About God’ & Other Poorly-Designed Questions” (Research Design Review, July 25, 2012), it is argued that weak survey question design has a “potentially negative impact on Sunflower lightanalysis, which in turn leads to wrong conclusions, which in turn leads end users along a path of misguided next steps.” As one of several examples, this article highlights the ambiguity embedded in SurveyMonkey’s “The God Survey”; specifically, the problematic first question that asks how often “I wonder about God.” Poorly-designed questions raise serious concerns about how or if the researcher can legitimately analyze the resulting data (while also tackling issues of reliability and validity), a concern made more profound by the frequent failure to even consider the alternative interpretations respondents may give to survey questions. By failing to Read Full Text

Contexts, Constructs, & the Human Condition: Grounding Quantitative with Qualitative Research

As discussed elsewhere in this blog, there is a “new day” dawning for qualitative research; one that not only brings new life into its use but, along with it, an evolving enthusiasm for the idea The human conditionthat researchers of any ilk cannot truly grapple with human behavior and attitudes without an understanding of contexts, constructs, and the human condition. It is truly gratifying, for instance, to watch this enthusiasm grow in organizations such as the American Psychological Association beginning in 2015 with a featured article in the American Psychologist is titled, “The Promises of Qualitative Inquiry” (Gergen, Josselson, & Freeman, 2015).

In 2014, Research Design Review published four articles pertaining to the ways survey research can be “made whole” with a nod to the use and/or sensitivities of qualitative research. This is because it is the role of qualitative research to unlock the human condition in our research by providing the context and meaning to constructs that define what is being measured. Without a direct or underlying qualitative research component, how is the survey researcher to understand – be comfortable in the knowledge of – his or her analysis and interpretation of the data?

These articles emphasize the challenges survey researchers face when they ask about vague yet highly-personal constructs – such as “the good life,” “happiness,” “satisfaction,” “preference,” or (even) the idea of “actively” incorporating “fruits” and “vegetables” in the diet – without the benefit of context or meaning from the respondent, or at least a concise definition by the researcher.

These four articles have been compiled into one document which can be downloaded here.

Gergen, K. J., Josselson, R., & Freeman, M. (2015). The promises of qualitative inquiry. American Psychologist, 70(1), 1-9.

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