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Quantitative Research Masters in project Planning and Management
Fred Wafula Wekesa .
IN THIS MODULE WE SHALL COVER THE FOLLOWING Introduction Qualitative research Qualitative research Vs Quantitative research Sampling methods in Qualitative research Ethics in Qualitative research Methods of data collection in qualitative research Data analysis in qualitative research Limitations of qualitative research
Introduction Qualitative research is a strong tool that is being used to effectively address the social issues that affect individual and families. By using qualitative research, researchers are able to collect data and explain phenomena more deeply and more exhaustively(Mugenda & Mugenda, 2003).The two most common types of research are ; quantitative and qualitative research. What is qualitative research? Qualitative research is a naturalistic/ interpretive scientific research. Scientific research consists of an investigation that: • seeks answers to a question/ evaluator defines a research problem • systematically uses a predefined set of procedures to answer the question( researcher formulates research questions and defines the population and samples) • collects evidence and analyzes them • produces findings that were not determined in advance • produces findings that are applicable beyond the immediate boundaries of the study Qualitative research shares these characteristics. Additionally, it seeks to understand a given research problem or topic from the perspectives of the local population it involves. Qualitative
research is especially effective in obtaining culturally specific information about the values, opinions, behaviors, and social contexts of particular populations (FHI, 2005.) Qualitative research is also known as explorative research. It employs many methods of interpretive modes of inquiry that include the following (Glesne and Peshkin, 1992):
Attempts to shed light on a phenomena by studying Case study indepth a single case example of the phenomena. The case can be an individual person, an event, a group, or an institution. Theory is developed inductively from a corpus of data acquired by a participant-observer. Describes the structures of experience as they present Phenomenology themselves to consciousness, without recourse to theory, deduction, or assumptions from other disciplines Focuses on the sociology of meaning through close field Ethnography observation of sociocultural phenomena. Typically, the ethnographer focuses on a community. Systematic collection and objective evaluation of data related to past occurrences in order to test hypotheses Historical concerning causes, effects, or trends of these events that may help to explain present events and anticipate future events. (Gay, 1996)
Differences between qualitative research and quantitative research. Quantitative research General framework Seek to confirm hypotheses about phenomena qualitative Seek to explore phenomena
Instruments use more rigid style of eliciting and categorizing responses to questions Use highly structured methods such as questionnaires, surveys, and structured observation Analytical objectives To quantify variation To predict causal relationships
Instruments use more flexible, iterative style of eliciting and categorizing responses to questions Use semi-structured methods such as in-depth interviews, focus groups, and participant observation To describe variation To describe and explain relationships
To describe characteristics of a population
To describe individual experiences To describe group norms
Question format Data format
Close ended Numerical (obtained by assigning numerical values to responses)
Open ended Textual (obtained from audiotapes, videotapes, and field notes) Some aspects of the study are flexible (for example, the addition, exclusion, or wording of particular interview questions) Participant responses affect how and which questions
Flexibility in study design
Study design is stable from beginning to end Participant responses do not influence or determine how and which questions researchers ask next Study design is subject to
statistical assumptions and conditions
researchers ask next Study design is iterative, that is, data collection and research questions are adjusted according to what is learned
Etic in nature( findings and interpretations based on the view of the researchers
Emic ( here the feelings and points of view of respondent are put into account
In summary…….. Generally, qualitative research is the type of research that gathers data that look into issues that touch on the following about people and the society; • • Concerned with the feelings, meanings and values about a subject Things not easily measured using numbers such as behavior, sensory, perceptions, opinions and values.. • • • • Enables exploration of motives, attitudes and preferences and how they are formed. Results can‟t be related to whole population. Provides depth of information which may also be used to guide quantitative studies. More of depth than breadth ( Adipo, 2007)
Behavior: In this context the research will basically look at what a person is doing or what an individual or the society has done Opinion/vaues: • What a person thinks about a topic
About values attached to things or practices
Feelings • • About what the respondents feel Note that respondents sometimes respond with "I think ..." so be careful to note that you're looking for feelings Knowledge: • • To get facts about a topic of interest May include what respondents know or have heard about something
Sensory • About what people have; seen, Seen, touched, heard, tasted, Smelt
Qualitative research design The questions for qualitative research should be open ended • • • • • • • • • Designed to encourage a full disclosure of meaningful answers. Are less leading. Begins with words like why, how or phrases like “Tell me about….“. Solicits additional information from the inquirer. Also called infinite response/unsaturated questions Broad & require more than one/two word responses Neutral & allows free and unrestrained response Do not give respondents answers to choose from Encourages response in a sentence, a paragraph
Sampling methods in qualitative research Sampling in qualitative research is based on the study‟s research objective and the characteristics of the study population that is pegged on size and diversity. There are there most common methods used in qualitative research sampling Purposive sampling Quota sampling and Snowball sampling What is purposive sampling? Purposive sampling, one of the most common sampling strategies, groups participants according to preselected criteria relevant to a particular research question (for example, HIV-positive women in kisumu city). Sample sizes, which may or may not be fixed prior to data collection, depend on the resources and time available, as well as the study‟s objectives. Purposive sample sizes are often determined on the basis of theoretical saturation (the point in data collection when new data no longer bring additional insights to the research questions). Purposive sampling is therefore most successful when data review and analysis are done in conjunction with data collection (FHI, 2005).
What is quota sampling? Quota sampling, sometimes considered a type of purposive sampling, is also common. In quota sampling, we decide while designing the study how many people with which characteristics to include as participants. Characteristics might include age, place of residence, gender, class, profession, marital status, use of a particular contraceptive method, HIV status, etc. The criteria we choose allow us to focus on people we think would be most likely to experience, know about, or have insights into the research topic. Then we go into the community and – using recruitment strategies appropriate to the location, culture, and study population – find people who fit these criteria, until we meet the prescribed quotas. An example is recruiting sexually active girls in a contraceptive study ( Adipo, 2007) What is snowball sampling?
This method is also known as chain referral sampling – is considered a type of purposive sampling. In this method, participants or informants with whom contact has already been made use their social networks to refer the researcher to other people who could potentially participate in or contribute to the study. Snowball sampling is often used to find and recruit “hidden populations,” that is, groups not easily accessible to researchers through other sampling strategies such as female sex workers. It other quarters this method is popularly referred to as respondent driven sampling
What are the fundamental research ethics principles? Three core principles, originally articulated in The Belmont Report, form the universally accepted basis for research ethics.
Respect for persons requires a commitment to ensuring the autonomy of research participants, and, where autonomy may be diminished, to protect people from exploitation of their vulnerability. The dignity of all research participants must be respected. Adherence to this principle ensures that people will not be used simply as a means to achieve research objectives.
Beneficence requires a commitment to minimizing the risks associated with research, including psychological and social risks, and maximizing the benefits that accrue to research participants. Researchers must articulate specific ways this will be achieved.
Justice requires a commitment to ensuring a fair distribution of the risks and benefits resulting from research. Those who take on the burdens of research participation should share in the benefits of the knowledge gained. Or, to put it another way, the people who are expected to benefit from the knowledge should be the ones who are asked to participate.
In addition to these established principles, some bioethicists have suggested that a fourth principle, respect for communities, should be added. Respect for communities “confers on the researcher an obligation to respect the values and interests of the community in research and, wherever possible, to protect the community from harm.”2 We believe that this principle is, in fact, fundamental for research when community-wide knowledge, values, and relationships are
critical to research success and may in turn be affected by the research process or its outcomes (FHI, 2005)
Qualitative research methods Data collection in qualitative research There are three ways of data collection in qualitative research Use of focus group discussions Use of key informant interviews Use of observations
Focus group discussions, uses and limitations A focus group discussion (FGD) is a group discussion of approximately 6 - 12 persons guided by a facilitator, during which group members talk freely and spontaneously about a certain topic. Participants should be roughly of the same socio-economic group or have a similar background in relation to the issue under investigation. The age and sexual composition of the group should facilitate free discussion. Members stimulated to respond by others comments and support A FGD is a qualitative method. Its purpose is to obtain in-depth information on concepts, perceptions and ideas of a group. A FGD aims to be more than a question-answer interaction. The idea is that group members discuss the topic among themselves, with guidance from the facilitator (IDRC, 2010). Focus group discussions are usually tape recorded and transcribed later for analysis. FGD techniques can, for example, be used to: 1. Focus research and develop relevant research hypotheses by exploring in greater depth the problem to be investigated and its possible causes. For example:
A district health officer had noticed that there were an unusually large number of cases of malnutrition of children under 5 reported from one area in her district. Because she had little idea of why there might be more malnutrition in that area she decided to organise three focus group discussions (one with leaders, one with mothers from the area and one with health staff from the area). She hoped to identify potential causes of the problem through the FGDs and then develop a more intensive study, if necessary. 2. Formulate appropriate questions for more structured, larger scale surveys. For example: In planning a study of the incidence of childhood diarrhoea and feeding practices, a focus group discussion showed that in the community under study, children below the age of 1 year were not perceived as having „bouts of diarrhoea‟ but merely „having loose stools‟ that were associated with milestones such as sitting up, crawling, and teething. In the questionnaire that was developed after the FGD the concept „diarrhoea‟ was therefore carefully described, using the community‟s notions and terms. 3. Help understand and solve unexpected problems in interventions. For example: In District X, the recent national (polio) immunisation days (NID) showed widely different coverage‟s per village (50-90%) and in a number of villages a marked decrease in coverage was observed compared to last year. Eight FGD were held with mothers, two in town, three in rural villages with a marked decrease in NID coverage and three in villages with a high coverage throughout. It appeared that overall, the concept NID had raised confusion. Most people believed that this mass campaign strengthened the children‟s immunity against any (childhood) disease, including malaria and Respiratory Tract Infections. In the villages with a low NID coverage there had been a high incidence of malaria in children immediately after the previous NID campaign and several children died. Mothers therefore believed that the NID campaign was useless.*
4. develop appropriate messages for health education programmes and later evaluate the messages for clarity. For example: A rural health clinic wanted to develop a health education programme focused on weaning problems most often encountered by mothers in the surrounding villages and what to do about them. The focus group discussion could be used for exploring relevant local concepts as well as for testing drafts when developing the messages. The messages should be developed and tested in different socio-economic groups of mothers, as weaning practices may differ with income, means of subsistence and education of the mothers. Also ethnic differences may have to be taken into account.
5. Explore controversial topics. For example: Sexual behaviour is a controversial topic in the sense that males and females judge sexual relations and sexuality often from very different perspectives. Sexual education has to take this difference into account. Through FGDs, first with females, then with males, and then with a mixed group to confront both sexes with the different outcomes of the separate discussions (listed on flip charts) it becomes easier to bring these differences in the open. Especially for teenagers, who may have many stereotypes about the other sex or be reluctant to discuss the topic openly (particularly girls), such a „multi-stage‟ approach is useful.
Strengths and limitations Implementation of FGDs is an iterative process; each focus group discussion builds on the previous one, with a slightly elaborated or better-focused set of themes for discussion. Provided
the groups have been well chosen, in terms of composition and number (see below), FGDs can be a powerful research tool which provides valuable spontaneous information in a short period of time and at relatively low cost. FGD should not be used for quantitative purposes, such as the testing of hypotheses or the generalisation of findings for larger areas, which would require more elaborate surveys. However, FGDs can profitably complement such surveys or other, qualitative techniques. Depending on the topic, it may be risky to use FGDs as a single tool. In group discussions, people tend to centre their opinions on the most common ones, on „social norms‟. In reality, opinions and behaviour may be more diverse. Therefore it is advisable to combine FGDs with at least some key informant and in-depth interviews. Explicitly soliciting other views during FGDs should be routine as well. In case of very sensitive topics, such as sexual behaviour or coping with HIV/AIDS, FGDs may also have their limitations, as group members may hesitate to air their feelings and experiences freely. One possible remedy is the selection of participants who do not know each other (e.g., selection of children from different schools in FGDs about adolescent sexual behaviour), while assuring absolute confidentiality. It may also help to alternate the FGD with other methods, for example, to precede it by a selfdeveloped role play on sexual behaviour, or to administer a written questionnaire immediately after the FGD with open questions on sexual behaviour in which the participants can anonymously state all their questions and problems.
Key Informant interviews The key informant interview is a standard anthropological method that is widely used in health related and other social development inquiry. This is one method used in rapid assessment for gathering information from the affected community. The term “key informant” refers to anyone who can provide detailed information and opinion based on his or her knowledge of a particular issue.
Key informant interview is a loosely structured conversation with people who have specialized
knowledge about the topic you wish to understand (EDC, 2004). Key informant interviews were developed by ethnographers to help understand cultures other than their own. They seek qualitative
information that can be narrated and cross checked with quantitative data, a method called “triangulation”.
Here the interviews are tape recorded
Observations What is participant observation? Participant observation is a qualitative method with roots in traditional ethnographic research, whose objective is to help researchers learn the perspectives held by study populations. As qualitative researchers, we presume that there will be multiple perspectives within any given community. We are interested both in knowing what those diverse perspectives are and in understanding the interplay among them. Qualitative researchers accomplish this through observation alone or by both observing and participating, to varying degrees, in the study community‟s daily activities. Participant observation always takes place in community settings, in locations believed to have some relevance to the research questions. The method is distinctive because the researcher approaches participants in their own environment rather than having the participants come to the researcher. Generally speaking, the researcher engaged in participant observation tries to learn what life is like for an “insider” while remaining, inevitably, an “outsider.” While in these community settings, researchers make careful, objective notes about what they see, recording all accounts and observations as field notes in a field notebook. Informal conversation and interaction with members of the study population are also important components of the method and should be recorded in the field notes, in as much detail as possible. Information and messages communicated through mass media such as radio or television may also be pertinent and thus desirable to document. Data obtained through participant observation serve as a check against participants‟ subjective
reporting of what they believe and do. Participant observation is also useful for gaining an understanding of the physical, social, cultural, and economic contexts in which study participants live; the relationships among and between people, contexts, ideas, norms, and events; and people‟s behaviors and activities – what they do, how frequently, and with whom. In addition, the method enables researchers to develop a familiarity with the cultural milieu that will prove invaluable throughout the project. It gives them a nuanced understanding of context that can come only from personal experience. There is no substitute for witnessing or participating in phenomena of human interaction – interaction with other people, with places, with things, and with states of being such as age and health status. Observing and participating are integral to understanding the breadth and complexities of the human experience – an overarching research endeavor for any public health or development project. Through participant observation, researchers can also uncover factors important for a thorough understanding of the research problem but that were unknown when the study was designed. This is the great advantage of the method because, although we may get truthful answers to the research questions we ask, we may not always ask the right questions. Thus, what we learn from participant observation can help us not only to understand data collected through other methods (such as interviews, focus groups, and quantitative research methods), but also to design questions for those methods that will give us the best understanding of the phenomenon being studied.
This method is however time consuming for researchers. One can take up to one year taking field notes A second disadvantage of participant observation is the difficulty of documenting the data – it is hard to write down everything that is important while you are in the act of participating and observing. As the researcher, you must therefore rely on your memory and on your own personal discipline.
Data analysis in qualitative research This is the process of bringing order, structure and meaning to the mass information collected. Data in qualitative research is in the form of text- in the form of transcribed and translated data or field notes, materials and pictures thus it is usually sometimes ambiguous and time consuming in conducting analysis. Steps in analysis 1. Data organization: these are derived from reading and field notes. Data here is transcribed and translated, edited and cleaned up. FGDs are put together so are KI and all the field notes relevant to the study. 2. Creating categories, themes and patterns: It is a very complex process that require the researcher to be very familiar with the data. S/he must be able to detect various categories in the data that is distinct from each other. They will then establish the relationship among these categories. Themes and patterns evolve through out the data and the researcher should be able to capture this. An example is the Prevention with the positives where themes such as adherence counseling, ARVs, stigma and discrimination and nutrition were identified as themes (BFS, 2009) 3. Coding: a code is basically a word or an abbreviation that represents a link between raw data (interview transcripts and filed notes) and the researchers‟ theoretical concepts. First of all nodes are developed and described based on emerging patterns, they could be parent nodes, child nodes or grandchild nodes( Invivo 2010). These form what is called a codebook that is used to code text: Basically coding is assigning texts to relevant nodes: coding is very time consuming and is the core to data analysis in qualitative research. Example: C101:Adherence: means taking of drugs as prescribed by a doctor and within the stipulated time.
C104: Balanced diet: all that pertains to food that has all the essential ingredients Extract: Part1: I take drugs everyday Par2: I take drugs as instructed by my physician Part3: I have always adhered to my drugs plus I take a balanced diet
Thus while coding scripts for participant one will share nodes C101 while scripts for participant 3 will share nodes C101 and C104 during the coding process. 4. Analysis: here the research will look at emerging patterns and generalize them to determine adequacy and credibility of information, usefulness, consistency, and validation of hypotheses. Report writing: after analysis then come report writing and results dissemination to stakehpolders for necessary policy formulation Limitations of qualitative research In summary there are basically two limitations of this type of research 1. One is that it is yet to impact on policy change in the research world especially in the developing countries that tend to heavily make policies using quantitative techniques that test hypotheses 2. The sampling size for qualitative research is yet to be explored. Many a times the sample frame is too small to validate hypotheses.
Reference: 1. Daniel Adipo 2007 Research methods for data collectors, lecture notes 2. Educational Development center, 2004: www.dec.org 3. (Glesne and Peshkin, 1992): Lecture notes 4. FHI, 2005: Qualitative Research Methods: A Data Collector‟s Field Guide 5. International development research center: www.idrc.ca 6. INVIVO: http://www.qsrinternational.com 7. Olive M. Mugenda andAbel G. Mugenda 2003:Research methods, quantitative and qualitative approaches
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