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PSY 546

Qualitative
methodology and
analysis
Session 1
Introduction
Dr. Frances Michie, C.Psychol.
Associate Lecturer
Plymouth University

SESSION 2
OUTLINE
Practical:
Discussion around your chosen published
qualitative research paper

Observational research Methods


Grounded Theory
Content Analysis
Practical:
Preparing for a semi-structured interview

PRACTICAL
PUBLISHED RESEARCH: CRITIQUE

Last week I invited you to choose a


published paper reporting qualitative
research and read with the following
questions in mind
How did you get on?

CRITERIA FOR GOOD


QUALITATIVE RESEARCH PAPER:
Is there a connection with an existing body of
knowledge or theory?
Are the methods appropriate to the nature of the
questions being asked?
Does the sensitivity of the methods match the needs
of the data?
Are there clear accounts of the criteria used for the
selection of participants and of data collection and
analysis?
How systematic is the analysis?
Is there adequate discussion of how themes, concepts
and categories derived from the data?
Is there adequate discussion of the evidence for and
against the researchers arguments?
Is there a clear distinction made between the data and
the interpretation?

OBSERVATIONAL
RESEARCH METHODS
DEFINITIONS & PROCEDURES

OBSERVATIONAL RESEARCH METHODS


ETHNOGRAPHY/PARTICIPANT
OBSERVATION

Ethnography the study of cultures


Preferred term since 1970s
Origin Anthropology in non-Western cultures
Significant feature:
close involvement of researcher in the research setting

Chicago School of Sociology


Not featured greatly in Psychology but recent
interest in cultural Psychology = child development
Different dimensions:

Observers role in the setting


The groups knowledge of the observation process
Explication of the studys purpose
Length
Focus

OBSERVATIONAL RESEARCH METHODS


ETHNOGRAPHY/PARTICIPANT
OBSERVATION II
Observational techniques researcher extensively
involved
Ethnography intensive observation
Field notes made after the observation is
complete
Primarily data collection technique
Different methods of analysis used (e.g. grounded
theory, content analysis, thematic analysis)
Problems:
Time intense
Complexity of the data
Accusations of subjectivity

ETHNOGRAPHY:
DATA COLLECTION & RESEARCHER ROLE
Field observations recorded via:
Voice recordings, Computers, Video, Semistructured interviews, Group discussion (focus
groups), Life histories, Personal documents (inc.
photos)

Researcher role:

Total or complete participation


Total of complete observation
Participant as an observer
Observer as non-participant

ETHNOGRAPHY:
METHODOLOGY
1. Formulate the research question
2. Does the question lend itself to participant
observation
3. Define what is to be addressed in the observation
process
4. Define the researchers role
5. Entry/access to the community to be observed
6. Continuing access
7. The use of key informants
8. Field notes/data logging
9. How to sample
10.When to stop the fieldwork

ETHNOGRAPHY:
DATA ANALYSIS
No cookbook approach
Link different analytic techniques (complex
& varied data)
Researcher adds interpretative/analytic
notes similar to grounded theory,
discourse analysis, thematic analysis etc.

ONE APPROACH TO FIELDWORK


ANALYSIS

Read the field notes


Re-read the field notes
Identify the most relevant problems
to study further
Develop potential hypotheses
based on these
Re-examine the data for indicators
of the elements of the hypotheses

ETHNOGRAPHY:
WHEN TO USE

To understand the processes involved with a


naturally occurring group, community or
culture
When broad observations are appropriate
rather than narrowly focussed ones
Fundamentally different to fine-grained
approaches e.g. conversation/discourse
analysis

ETHNOGRAPHY:
EVALUATION
Resource hungry
Data collection method no clear association
with particular methods of analysis
Mainstream Psychology questions objectivity
Field note-taking problematic often draws on
memory
Reliance on interpretation as a situation unfolds
Where participation is emphasised may
change some of the social action being
observed (Hawthorne effect)
Interpersonal skills

GROUNDED THEORY
DEFINITIONS & PROCEDURES

GROUNDED THEORY
GLASER & STRAUSS 1960S

Natural setting
Participant perspective
Flexible design
To question:
What is occuring?
How is it occuring?

*Not suitable for questions of prevalence &


generalisability
Purpose:
Generate theory
No prior theory in the field

GROUNDED THEORY:
RATIONALE
Build rather than test theory
Give the research process the rigour
necessary to make the theory good science
Break through the assumptions and biases
brought to (and possibly developed) through
the research process (subjectivity)
Provide grounding:
Build density
Develop sensitivity & integration
Generate a rich, tightly woven & explanatory theory
which closely approximates the reality it represents

GROUNDED THEORY:
KEY ELEMENTS
Open Coding
Breaking down, examining, comparing, conceptualising & categorizing data

Axial Coding
Procedures where data are put back together in new ways after open
coding by making connections between categories

Selective Coding
Process of selecting the core category
Systematically relating it to other categories, validating those relationships
and filling in categories that need further refinement and development

Story:
a descriptive narrative about the central phenomenon of the study

Storyline:
the conceptualisation of the story (core category)

Core category:
The central phenomenon around which all the other categories are
integrated

GROUNDED THEORY:
RAW DATA & OPEN CODINGS

*On a large data set there maybe 100s

GROUNDED THEORY:
AXIAL CODINGS
Self esteem

Academic self concept

Motivation

GROUNDED THEORY:
SELECTIVE CODING
The Story: descriptive narrative about the
central phenomenon

RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN CORE


CATEGORY & AXIAL CODES

Self-esteem

Participants who had low levels


of self-esteem often rejected favourable
feedback for their assignments in order
to maintain a well established negative
academic self-concept. This was
particularly prominent
when their motivation to study was for
career goals
Academic Self-

Motivatio

CONTENT ANALYSIS
DEFINITION & PROCEDURES

CONTENT/THEMATIC ANALYSIS
Content Analysis:
A very general term to refer to ways of
categorising textual data to allow
comparisons to be made between aspects of
the data and to describe the contents of the
data
Analysis can involve quantification of
concepts

CONTENT ANALYSIS:
TYPES OF DATA & PROCEDURE
Used to determine the presence of certain words or
concepts within texts or sets of texts
Researchers quantify and analyse the presence, meanings
and relationships of such words and concepts - then make
inferences about the messages within the texts, the
writer(s), the audience, and even the culture and time of
which these are a part
Texts = books, book chapters, essays, interviews,
discussions, newspaper headlines and articles, historical
documents, speeches, conversations, advertising, informal
conversation - any occurrence of communicative language
Text is coded, or broken down, into manageable categories
on a variety of levels--word, word sense, phrase, sentence,
or theme--and then examined using one of content analysis'
basic methods: conceptual analysis

ANALYSIS
Conceptual analysis:
identifying research questions and choosing a
sample(s)

Once chosen, the text must be coded into


manageable content categories
The process of coding is one ofselective
reduction:
By reducing the text to categories consisting of a
word, set of words or phrases, the researcher can
focus on, and code for, specific words or patterns
that are indicative of the research question

EXAMPLE:
THE EXPERIENCE OF STUDENTS IN HIGHER EDUCATION
Interviews with students
The research question might involve examining the
number of words used to describe the number of
negative/positive experiences used to describe the
experience
The researcher would be interested only in
quantifying these words, not in examining how they
are related, which is a function of relational analysis
In conceptual analysis, the researcher simply wants
to examine presence with respect to his/her research
question, i.e. is there a stronger presence of positive
or negative words used with respect to the quality of
experience for students in Higher Education

REPRESENTATION

CONCLUSIONS
Depending on the methodology adopted the data
& analysis will reveal different types of
information
Observational research is a method of data
collection and the types of analysis used can
vary Grounded theory lends itself well for this
type of data
Grounded theory data rather than hypothesis
driven theory emerges from the data
Highly systematic procedures
Content Analysis relatively simple as it describes
frequency of themes/concepts in the data