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Chapter 3

Designing a Qualitative
Study:
A Research Plan

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Qualitative Research: A Metaphoric
Description

An intricate fabric composed of minute


threads, many colors, different textures,
and various blends of material. This fabric
is not explained easily or simply.

General worldviews and perspectives hold


qualitative research together (like the
loom holding the fabric)

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Qualitative Research: From
Metaphoric to Discourse
These frameworks are labelled constructivist,
interpretivist, feminist, methodology, postmodernist,
and naturalistic research.

The accompanying approaches to qualitative inquiry,


called narrative research, phenomenology,
grounded theory, ethnography, and case
studies.

Common characteristics in qualitative research


receive different emphases depending on the project.

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Questions for Discussion

What are the key characteristics of


qualitative research?

What types of problems are best suited for


qualitative inquiry?

What research skills are required to


undertake this type of research?

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Questions for Discussion

How do researchers design a qualitative


study?

What types of ethical issues need to be


anticipated during the process of research?

What is a model structure for a plan or


proposal for a qualitative study?

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Common Characteristics of Qualitative Research
(1)

Research takes place in natural settings:

Collect data in the field at the site where participants'


experience the issue or problem under study.

Generally neither instruments are sent to


complete nor participant are invited into
contrived settings.

Talking directly to people and seeing them behave


and act within their context

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Common Characteristics of Qualitative Research
(2)

Researcher as key instrument of data


collection

Personally examining documents, observing


behavior, and interviewing participants.

Instrument is self-developed and personal


engagement is essential

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Common Characteristics of Qualitative Research
(3)

Multiple methods of data collection & data


sources

Multiple forms of data, such as interviews,


observations, and documents.

Data is made sense of through organization into


categories or themes that cut across all of the data
sources.

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Common Characteristics of Qualitative Research
(4)

Learning participant meaning &


understanding

Primary focus of researcher is to understanding


the meaning that the participants hold about
the problem or issue.

Not the meaning that the researchers bring to


the research or writers from the literature.

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Common Characteristics of Qualitative Research
(5)

Inductive data analysis

Build patterns, categories, and themes from the "bottom-


up," by organizing the data into increasingly more abstract
units of information.

Researcher working back and forth between the themes and


the database until they establish a comprehensive set of
themes.

May involve collaborating with the participants interactively,


so that they have a chance to shape the themes or
abstractions that emerge from the process.
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Common Characteristics of Qualitative
Research (6)
Emergent research process/design

Initial plan for research cannot be tightly prescribed,

All phases may change or shift after the researchers enter the
field and begin to collect data.

Questions may change, forms of data collection may shift,


and the individuals studied and the sites visited may be
modified.

All towards learning about the problem or issue from participants


and to address the research to obtain that information.

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Common Characteristics of Qualitative
Research (7)
Researchers Positioning

Often use a lens to view their studies, such as


the concept of culture, central to ethnography,
or gendered, racial, or class differences from
the theoretical orientations.

Sometimes, the study may be organized


around identifying the social, political, or
historical context of the problem under study.

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Common Characteristics of Qualitative
Research (8)
Holistic account

Researchers focus on identifying complex


interactions rather than cause and effect
relationships.

Reporting multiple perspectives, identifying the


many factors involved in a situation, and
generally sketching the larger picture that
emerges

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Summary of Common Characteristics of Qualitative
Research

Natural setting (field focused), a source of data for


close interaction

Researcher as key instrument of data collection

Multiple data sources in words or images

Analysis of data inductively, recursively, interactively

Focus on participants' perspectives, their meanings,


their subjective views

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Summary of Common Characteristics of Qualitative
Research

Framing of human behavior and belief within a


social-political/historical context or through a
cultural lens

Emergent (not tightly prefigured) design

Fundamentally interpretive inquiryresearcher


reflects on her or his role, the role of the reader,
and the role of the participants in shaping the study

Holistic view of social phenomena


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When to Use Qualitative?

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When to Use Qualitative Research
Because a problem or issue needs to be
explored , as we need to study a
population, identify variables that can
then be measured, or hear silenced
voices.

Because complex, detailed understanding


of the issue is required. Elicited only
through talking directly with people, going
to their place, and allowing them to tell.
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When to Use Qualitative Research
To empower individuals to share their
stories, hear their voices, and minimize
the power relationships (b/w researcher
and participants)

Further de-emphasize power through


collaborating directly with participants,
review research questions, involve in data
analysis and interpretation

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When to Use Qualitative Research
Write in a literary, flexible style that
conveys stories, or theater, or poems.

Want to understand the contexts (home,


family, or work) in which participants in a
study address a problem.

To follow up quantitative research and


explain the mechanisms or linkages in
causal theories or models.
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When to Use Qualitative Research
Why people responded as they did, the
context in which they responded, and
their deeper thoughts and behaviors
that governed their responses.

To develop theories when inadequate


theories exist and does not capture the
complexity of the problem.

Better fit (as statistical mean overlooks


the uniqueness of individuals) 20
Demands on Qualitative
Researcher!

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What a Qualitative Study
Requires from the Researcher

Commitment to extensive time in the


field

Engagement in the complex, time-


consuming task of data analysis

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What a Qualitative Study
Requires from the Researcher

A commitment to writing long passages


showing multiple perspectives the
complexity of findings

Participation in a process that does not


have firm guidelines or specific
procedures and is constantly evolving
and changing.
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Good Qualitative
Study !

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What makes a Good Qualitative Study?

The researcher employs rigorous data


collection procedures

The researcher frames the study within


the assumptions and characteristics of
the qualitative approach to research

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What makes a Good Qualitative Study?

The researcher uses an understood


approach to research (such as one of the
five approaches in the book) especially
when beginning

The researcher begins with a single


focus or concept

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What makes a Good Study?
The study includes detailed methods
and a rigorous approach to data
collection, analysis, and writing

The researcher analyzes data using


multiple levels of abstraction- moves
from particulars to generalization

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What makes a Good Study?
The researcher writes persuasively to put
the reader there- verisimilitude

The study reflects the history, culture,


and personal experiences of the
researcher

The study is ethical

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Ethical Issues in Qualitative Research
Where in the Type of Ethical Issue How to Address the
process does Issue
the issue
occur?
Prior to the study Seek institutional approval Submit for IRB approval
Examine professional standards Consult professional standards
Gain site permission Identify and use channels; find a
Select a site without a vested gatekeeper to help
interest in the outcome of the Select a site without power issues
study with researchers
Negotiate authorship Give appropriate writing credit
At the onset of the Disclose purpose of the study Tell participants general purpose
study Dont pressure participants into of study
signing consent forms Tell them they do not have to sign
Respect norms of indigenous form
societies Find out about cultural, religious
Sensitivity to vulnerable and other differences to respect
populations Obtain appropriate consent
During data collection Disrupt as little as possible Build trust- be honest about
Avoid deceiving participants anticipated disruption
Respect power imbalances Discuss purpose of study and
Respect reciprocity data use
Avoid leading questions; withhold
sharing personal impressions
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Provide rewards for participating
Ethical Issues Continued
Where in the Type of Ethical Issue How to Address the
process does Issue
the issue
occur?
Analyzing Data Avoid siding with participants Report multiple perspectives;
(going native) report contrary findings
Avoid disclosing only positive Assign fictitious names or
results aliases; develop composite
Respect the privacy of profiles or report data in the
participants aggregate
Reporting Data Falsifying authorship, Report honestly
evidence, data findings See APA (2010) guidelines
Plagiarism for permissions needed to
Avoid disclosing evidence reprint or adapt work of
that would harm participants others
Communicate in clear, Use composite stories so
straight-forward, appropriate participants cannot be
language identified
Use audience-appropriate
language
Publishing Study Share data with others Provide copies of report to
Do not duplicate or participants and 30
Constructivist/Interpretivist Approach to a
Qualitative Research Plan or Proposal
(Creswell,2009)
Introduction
Statement of the Problem (including literature about the problem)
Purpose of the study
The research questions
Delimitations and limitations
Procedures
Characteristics of qualitative research
Qualitative research approach used
Role of the reseacher
Data collection procedures
Data analysis procedures
Strategies for validating findings
Narrative Structure
Anticipated ethical issues
Significance of the study
Preliminary pilot findings
Expected outcomes
Appendices: Interview questions, observational forms, timeline, proposed budget

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A Transformative Approach to a Qualitative
Research Plan or Proposal (Creswell, 2009)
Introduction
Statement of the Problem (including literature about the problem)
The transformative/participatory issue
The research questions
Delimitations and limitations
Procedures
Characteristics of qualitative research and philosophical assumptions (optional)
Qualitative research approach
Role of the researcher
Data collection procedures (including collaborative approaches used and sensitivity toward
participants
Data recording procedures
Strategies for validating findings
Narrative structure of study
Anticipated ethical issues
Significance of the study
Preliminary pilot findings
Expected transformative changes
Appendices: Interview questions, observational forms, timeline, proposed budget

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A Theoretical/Interpretive Lens Format
(Marshall & Rossman, 2010)
Introduction
Overview
Topic and Person
Significance for knowledge, practice, policy, action
The transformative/participatory issue
Framework and general research questions
Limitations
Literature review (theoretical questions and current thought for reframing the question)
Review and critique of related empirical research
Essays and opinions of experts
Design and methodology (overall approach and rationale)
Site or population selection and sampling strategies
Access, role, reciprocity, trust, rapport
Personal biography
Ethical and political considerations
Data collection methods
Data analysis procedures
Preliminary pilot findings
Procedures to address trustworthiness and credibility
Appendices (entry letters, data collection and management details, sampling strategies, timelines,
budget, notes from pilot studies

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Maxwells Nine Arguments for a Qualitative
Procedure
(2005)
1. We need to better understand(the topic)
2. We know little about(the topic)
3. I propose to study(purpose)
4. The setting and participants are appropriate for this
study(data collection)
5. The methods I plan to use will provide the data I need
to answer the research questions(data collection)
6. Analysis will generate answers to these questions
(analysis)
7. The findings will be validated by(validation)
8. The study poses no ethical problems(ethics)
9. Preliminary results support the practicability and value
of the study(pilot project)

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