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From: Maxwell, J.A. (1996). Qualitative Research Design: An Interactive Approach Applied Social Research Methods.

London: Sage publications.

Creating a Concept Map for Your Study How do you develop a concept map? First, you need to have a set of concepts to work with. These can come from existing theory, from your own experience, or from the people you are studying—their own concepts of what's going on. The main thing to keep in mind is that at this point you are trying to represent the theory you already have about the phenomena you are studying, not primarily to invent a new theory. 1. Begin with the thing you want to understand and your tentative understanding of it. Think about the key words you use in talking about this phenomenon; these probably represent important concepts in your theory. You can pull some of these concepts directly from things you've already written about your research; take your memos and underline the key terms, then use these as your initial categories. Alternatively, you can take one key concept, idea, or term, and brainstorm all of the things that might be related to this, then go back and select those that seem most directly relevant to your study. 2. Once you've generated some concepts to work with, ask yourself how these are related. What connections do you see among them? Leigh Star (quoted in Strauss, 1987, p. 179) suggests beginning with one category or concept and drawing "tendrils" to others. What do you think are the important connections between the concepts you're using? The key pieces of a concept map aren't the circles, but the arrows; these represent proposed relationships between the concepts or events. Ask yourself, what do I mean by this particular arrow? What does it stand for? Think of concrete examples of what you're dealing with, rather than working only with abstractions. Don't lock yourself into the first set of categories you select, or the first arrangement you try. Brainstorm different ways of putting the concepts together; move the categories around to see what works best. Ask questions about the diagram, draw possible connections, and ask if they make sense. An alternative strategy is to take something you've already written and try to map the theory that is implicit (or explicit) in this. This is often the best approach for people who don't think visually and prefer to work with prose. Strauss (1987, pp. 182-183) and Miles and Huberman (1994, p. 22) provide additional advice on how to develop concept maps for your study. 3. Finally, write a narrative of what this concept map says about the phenomena you are studying. Try to capture in words the ideas that are embodied in the diagram. This is an important part of the exercise; it can point out when something in your map is simply a placeholder for the actual concept or relationship that you need and can suggest ways to develop your theory.

and the analyses you will perform on these data.Developing Your Research Questions 1. what questions can a qualitative study of the kind you are planning productively address? 6. Three or four main questions is usually a reasonable maximum for a qualitative study. start making choices. or where you need to test your ideas? Where are the holes in. Begin by setting aside whatever research questions you already have and starting with your concept map. 5. although you can have additional subquestions for each of the main questions. take your original research questions and compare them to the map and the questions you generated from it. are there places where your original questions imply things that should be on your map. What would answering these questions tell you that you don't already know? What changes or additions to your questions does your map suggest? Conversely. At this point in your planning. What would you need to know in order to accomplish these purposes? What questions does this imply? Conversely. Now go through the same process with the purpose of your research. but aren't? What changes do you need to make to your map? 3. how do your original questions connect to your reasons for conducting the study? How will answering these specific questions help you to achieve your purposes? Which questions are most interesting to you personally. Next. What are the plausible validity threats and alternative explanations that you would have to rule out? How might you be wrong. your experiential knowledge and existing theories. Connect your questions to the methods you might use. Now focus. and what implications does this have for the way you frame your questions? Finally. you need to carefully consider whether your planned study can actually answer the questions you pose. This part of the exercise is one you can usefully repeat when you have developed your methods and validity concerns in more detail. What questions are most central to your study? How do these questions form a coherent set that will guide your study? You can't study everything interesting about your topic. Assess the potential answers to your questions in terms of validity. In addition. or intellectually? 4. What are the places in this map that you don't understand adequately. record your responses and the thoughts they provoked. practically. . and what questions do these imply? Try to write down all of the potential questions that you can draw from the map. or conflicts between. Could your questions be answered by these methods and the data that they would provide? What methods would you need to use to collect data that would answer these questions? Conversely. the kinds of data you will collect. 2. this may primarily involve thought experiments about the way you will conduct the study.