The Total Quality Framework (TQF)* contributes to the conversation in the qualitative research community by providing researchers with a way to think about their qualitative designs – along with strategies or techniques – for the purpose of enhancing the quality of research outcomes. The TQF is a comprehensive approach that considers all stages of the research process – from data collection to the final “product.” Recent articles in Research Design Review discussed two of the four components of the TQF – specifically, the Credibility component and the Analyzability component. The Credibility component pertains to data collection and consists of Scope (having to do with sampling and coverage) and Data Gathering (having to do with minimizing potential bias, nonresponse, and other factors that may weaken the validity of the data). The Analyzability component of the TQF is focused on the Processing of qualitative data (e.g., the quality by which the initial “raw” data is transformed) as well as Verification of research findings and interpretations (e.g., by way of deviant cases, peer debriefs, the reflexive journal).
The third component of the TQF has to do with the next phase in a qualitative research design – that is, reporting. When the data has been collected and thoroughly processed and verified, the qualitative researcher Read Full Text
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 ways 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
Transparency plays a pivotal role in the final product of any research study. It is by revealing the study’s intricacies and details in the final document that the ultimate consumers of the research gain the understanding they need to (a) fully comprehend the people, phenomena, and context under investigation; (b) assign value to the interpretations and recommendations; and/or (c) transfer some aspect of the study to other contexts. Transparency, and its importance to the research process, has been discussed often in this blog, with articles in November 2009 and December 2012 devoted to the topic.
At the core of transparency is the notion of “thick description.” The use of the term here goes beyond its traditional meaning of
“describing and interpreting observed social action (or behavior) within its particular context…[along with] the thoughts and feelings of participants as well as the often complex web of relationships among them. Thick meaning of findings leads readers to a sense of verisimilitude, wherein they can cognitively and emotively ‘place’ themselves within the research context” (Ponterotto, 2006, p. 543).
to also include detailed information pertaining to data collection and analysis. Ethnography, for example, is greatly enriched (“thickened”) by the reporting of specifics in 25 areas related to the: Read Full Text