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Qualitative Research Article Critique “Emerging Practices and Perspectives on Big Data

Analysis in Economics: Bigger and Better or More of the same?”


Institution Affiliation


The purpose of this document is to analyze and critique a qualitative research article

on “Emerging Practices and Perspectives on Big Data Analysis in Economics: Bigger and

Better or More of the same?” by Taylor, Schroeder, and Meyer. The analysis will focus on

the research procedure utilized in the article by examining the problem statement, research

objectives, research questions, the methodology used, and data collection techniques, analysis

of the findings and how the findings are used to support or refute the research objectives.

Qualitative research involves the use of in-depth investigation of a scenario by the researcher

for clear understanding the occurrences or phenomena from the perspective of the

participants (Nollaig, 2011). The qualitative research follows a logical process for gathering

data, interpreting the findings and forming a conclusion. This research method is subjective

and does not rely on statistical data to form a conclusion hence the findings cannot be

generalized to a bigger population other than the participants of the research.

Problem Statement

The researcher provides a concise narrative of the issues that will be addressed in the

study. The problem statement is directly related to the research questions, and the study will

seek to find the solutions to these problems. According to Fischer (2011), problem statement

has a crucial role in qualitative research because it directs the researchers on what data to

collect and channel their efforts in the right direction. In the ‘Emerging Practices and

Perspectives on Big Data Analysis in Economics: Bigger and Better or More of the same?’

The authors have stated the objectives of the study and problem statement in the introduction

section in which they have expressed the concern over the increasing use of Big Data as a

source of information especially in economics (Taylor et al., Nd.). The study has stated many
advantages of Big Data to the economists, but due to complexity or lack of clarity of

definition of the Big Data, there has been sparse utilization by the most economist that could

result in increased opportunity cost for the economists not using the Big Data. Therefore, this

article has provided the introduction, objectives of the study and the problem statement with

required precision.

Purpose of the Study

The qualitative research is purposive in the sense that it aims at examining the

interaction between the subject matter and participant of the study (Fischer, 2011). There is

no statistical data required in qualitative research, and so the researcher describes the

phenomena subjectively by the observed characters, behavior, and other intuitive

characteristics. The purpose of the study gives meaning to the effort utilized in the study by

the participants and helps in solving the research questions. It forms the basis of the data

required and the methods that will be applied to the study. In this article the researcher has

stated various purposes for conducting the research. The identified purposes were; to examine

the characteristics of Big Data, examine the rationale for approach use in the adoption of Bi

Data, the challenges for interpreting and accessing the Big Data (Taylor et al., Nd.). The

qualitative research gathers information to affirm the established theories or describe the

experiences of the participants which is used to draw a conclusion on the findings.

Methods Used

The qualitative research utilizes various techniques to generate and analyze data. The

most common research methods include focus groups, in-depth interview, case studies and

participant observation, shadowing, ethnography, grounded theory, etc. (Taylor et al., Nd.).
The researchers collect data using various techniques such as field notes, observation of the

participants, audiotapes and videotapes, journals, logs, direct or non-direct observation, and

so on. The methods used for research is very critical because it determines the quality of the

outcome hence the applicability of the results (Sensing, 2011). Researchers should also take

great concern for ethical issues during research activities by ensuring confidentiality,

anonymity, and privacy of the data and the participants (Tracy, 2012). Also, researchers can

affect the quality and reliability of the data by trying to influence the outcome. It is for this

reason that researchers are supposed to assume and a passive role in the study.

The methods used must specify how the data was collected, the participant or

population and techniques for data analysis (Wallace & Fleet, 2012). The advantage of

qualitative research is that it mainly uses open-ended questions which are a more flexible in

that it offers respondents an opportunity to express their feelings about the subject matter

(Nollaig, 2011). However, the researcher must ensure the participants are well versed with

the questions asked and the expected responses. The interviews with the participants and

analyses of the results are conducted progressively whereby one analysis prompts the

researcher to conduct another interview to achieve refined information.

This research article focused on the economists as the participants of the study. The

researcher conducted a series of in-depth interviews with the selected participant accountants

who had experience working with the Big Data and scientist who had experience working in

the field of economics or business to determine the issues, challenges, and benefits of using

Big Data. The study conducted by over a period of two years involved 125 participants with a

background in social science (Taylor et al., Nd.). The researchers used semi-structure

interview questions to obtain information from the interviewee regarding their experience

with the Big Data, tools, and skills they use to work and gain access to that data. According
to Tracy (2012), a semi-structured interview is a formal interview in which the interviewer

uses pre-arranged questions to guide them through the interview process. The interviewer and

interviewees are engaged in a formal discussion in which the interviewer seeks to obtain

responses to the series of the question set in the interview guide. This form of interview

enables the researcher to cover relevant areas of the study by following the questions

systematically (Sensing, 2011). The semi-structured interview is also effective when used

alongside other methods such as observation, and the open-headed questions guide the

researchers to view the research topic in different perspectives.

Apart from the interviews the researchers also obtained additional information from

desk research; personal observations made through attending the conferences and various

fora, scientometrics and individual engagement of the researchers in research in that locality

(Taylor et al., Nd.). The sampling techniques of the participating economists and social

scientists were carried out using purposive sampling targeting the respondents involved in

Big Data. This is not a statistical method, but is relevant in qualitative sampling because the

experience is personal and subjective thus essential for this exploratory research (Wallace

& Fleet, 2012). Furthermore, the responses of the participant’s social scientists and

economists would be adequate to establish the challenges, issues, inspiration and approaches

experienced by the economists and offer guidance for future practices in the relevant field.

The researchers stated the two research questions to guide the study in the

methodology section. These research questions focused on establishing the purpose for which

the Big Data was used and the second was to determine the type of economic or the other

knowledge the research was contributing to (Taylor et al., Nd.). While research questions are

very crucial for an excellent research process, stating the research questions in methodology

section seems improper. The research questions usually come after problem statement to
offer the researchers with a broad focus on the problem and provide a guideline to their

research work (Sensing, 2011). Since research questions determine the size and scope of the

data required for the research, it would be appropriate for the researchers to state the guiding

questions before developing the methods used in the research.


The participants of qualitative research are the human subjects who are the targets of

observation. The researchers observe the participants as they continue with their usual way of

doing things to obtain the relevant information required to answer the research questions. The

participants used for this study involved 125 economists and experts in the matters of social

science (Taylor et al., Nd.). The participants were engaged in the research for two years

during an on-going research project sponsored by Alfred P. Sloan Foundation using semi-

structured interviews. The researchers also participated in the research process through

attending the conferences and engaging in other research areas.


The researchers focused on obtaining information to achieve various research

objectives. The first measure was to determine the size and scope of data that qualifies it Big

Data (Taylor et al., Nd.). The focus was on the size and complexity of the data that

determines whether the data can classify as Big Data. Apart from the size and complexity, the

ease of data accessibility was also considered as an important measure for classification of

data. Large data are easily accessible to the economists and social scientists.
The researcher also considered the reasons for economists to adopt Big Data. The

measures considered were whether accessibility of the data was the reason for its adoption

(Taylor et al., Nd.). Also, consideration was taken regarding how the data is implemented

whether it was institutional driven or an individual initiative.

Another measure was regarding the challenges economists and social scientists

encounters when coding the Big Data. When there is too much complex data even the use of

statistical tools used by the economists to decipher information from the data becomes

ineffective (Taylor et al., Nd.). Therefore, the extent of the challenges faced by economists

and social scientists when coding data from various sources and applying it to day-to-day

activities was considered the essential measure for determining Big Data.

Finally, the ease of accessing data from their sources was also used as a parameter for

determining Big Data. The consideration for individuals and corporate levels were given

whereby at individual levels senior researchers may have an influence on what data they can

access hence they may have access to Big Data than the junior researchers (Taylor et al.,

Nd.). Similarly, gaining access to corporate data could be difficult regardless of their size.

Therefore, such information can be classified as Big Data because it may be available to

specific researchers subject to non-disclosure policy.

Solutions & Suggestions

As with any other qualitative research, the respondents in this study expressed their

views based on personal experience with the data they use on day-to-day activities. Some

were of the view that the term Big Data was new while others had known about for a long

time. The study provided answers to various research questions and objectives. It established
that Big Data have challenges to the economist and social scientists because they are not

easily accessible (Taylor et al., Nd.). Also, they are difficult to code while some data are

presented using computer code and this can be understood by computer science experts only.

However, despite the challenges of accessing and understating the Big Data, the Data is

enhancing the knowledge of economists because they can easily observe the trend of data and

use analytical skills to make important predictions. Furthermore, the extent to which Big Data

will benefit the economists depends on whether it will increase or hinder the accessibility of

important data by all economists (Taylor et al., Nd.). The study established that most

economists have access to Big Data, and if all economists have access to Big Data equally

then Big Data will create a benefit to the economist by offering new ways of thinking.

The researchers did not develop an elaborate literature review. A literature review is

crucial in any research including qualitative research because it examines the related previous

researchers and established theories which apply in the current study (Nollaig, 2011). This

assessment of previous research work by other researchers helps the current researchers to

avoid duplication of the work that has already been. Also, it provides a clear conduit and sets

the direction for the current research and helps to build on the research objectives and helps

in identifying the research gaps that need to be filled current research (Tracy, 2012).

Furthermore, the findings of the study are not clearly presented since they are forming part of

the research methodology. Therefore, the researchers should have provided an elaborate

literature review to support their research and organize the study in a way that is easy to


The research article has well-established research objectives, problem statement, and

research questions. The research method provided the techniques for collecting and

presenting data. Observation and in-depth interview were used as well as structure

questionnaire. The study has established that Big Data has both challenges and benefits to the

economists depending on the extent to which they can access and code it to get meaningful

statistical information. The ease of accessibility of Big Data will influence the efficiency of

the economists. The researcher should have a clear literature review and presentation of the

findings to enhance the quality of the research.


Fischer, C. T. (Ed.) (2011). Qualitative Research Methods for Psychologists: Introduction

through Empirical Studies. New York: Academic Press, 28 Apr 2011.

Nollaig, F. (2011). Qualitative Research Methods In Psychology: Combining Core

Approaches: From core to combined approaches, UK: McGraw-Hill Education.

Sensing, T. (2011). Qualitative Research: A Multi-Methods Approach to Projects for Doctor

of Ministry Theses. U.S.A. Wipf and Stock Publishers.

Taylor, L., Schroeder R. & Meyer, E. (Nd.). Emerging practices and perspectives on Big Data
analysis in economics: Bigger and better or more of the same?

Tracy, S. J. (2012). Qualitative Research Methods: Collecting Evidence, Crafting Analysis,

Communicating Impact. UK: John Wiley & Sons.

Wallace, D.P. & Fleet, C.J.V. (2012). Knowledge into Action: Research and Evaluation in
Library and Information Science: Research and Evaluation in Library and
Information Science. U.S.A.: ABC-CLIO.