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Quality Research



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  • 1. The Quality of Qualitative Research Uwe Flick Alice-Salomon-University of Applied Sciences Berlin
  • 2. What is qualitative research and are we referring to? Theoretical and methodological schools Local approaches and schools Discipline-specific developments Different fields of application – Qualitative health research – Qualitative evaluation Same answers to the quality question across the various areas and contexts?18./19. 4. 2008 Uwe Flick - Bern 2
  • 3. Quality of qualitative research Still an unanswered question Answers expected from outside Answers needed for further establishing qualitative research Answers needed for reassuring qualitative research in times of evidence and mixed methods One size fits all?18./19. 4. 2008 Uwe Flick - Bern 3
  • 4. Four ways to answer the question of quality in qualitative research To apply the traditional criteria To reformulate traditional criteria like validity and reliability To design new appropriate criteria To use strategies of promoting quality18./19. 4. 2008 Uwe Flick - Bern 4
  • 5. Answer I: Traditional Criteria18./19. 4. 2008 Uwe Flick - Bern 5
  • 6. Reliability, validity and objectivity are strongly based on standardisation of methods and situations are based on concepts like repeatability are based on a detachment of the person of the researcher are incompatible with the degrees of freedom, of flexibility, and of non- standardisation of qualitative research18./19. 4. 2008 Uwe Flick - Bern 6
  • 7. Answer II: Reformulation of Traditional Criteria18./19. 4. 2008 Uwe Flick - Bern 7
  • 8. Validation in Qualitative Research Communicative validation Pragmatic validation To validate is to question To validate is to check To validate is to theorise (Kvale 2007)18./19. 4. 2008 Uwe Flick - Bern 8
  • 9. Answer III: New Criteria18./19. 4. 2008 Uwe Flick - Bern 9
  • 10. Credibility of Qualitative Research Prolonged engagement and persistent observation in the field and triangulation Peer debriefing The analysis of negative cases Appropriateness of the terms of reference of interpretations and their assessment; Member checks (Lincoln and Guba 1985)18./19. 4. 2008 Uwe Flick - Bern 10
  • 11. Criteria for Grounded Theory Credibility Originality Resonance Usefulness (Charmaz 2006)18./19. 4. 2008 Uwe Flick - Bern 11
  • 12. Credibility as Criterion? Benchmark problem How much credibility needed? Member checks: all members‘ or some members‘consent? Criterion or bona fides? Criteria or strategies?18./19. 4. 2008 Uwe Flick - Bern 12
  • 13. Quality in Qualitative EvaluationResearch should be contributory in advancing wider knowledge defensible in design by providing a research strategy which can address the evaluation questions posed rigorous in conduct through the systematic and transparent collection, analysis and interpretation of qualitative data credible in claim through offering well-founded and plausible arguments about the significance of the data generated (Spencer et al. 2003).18./19. 4. 2008 Uwe Flick - Bern 13
  • 14. Answer IV: Strategies18./19. 4. 2008 Uwe Flick - Bern 14
  • 15. Triangulation Different methods also for collecting data Equal weighting of methods or approaches Systematic use of different methods Integration/reflection of the theoretical backgrounds of the different methods Addressing different levels, for example: – subjective meaning and social structure – process and state, – knowledge and activity – knowledge and discourse Purposeful choice and use of methods18./19. 4. 2008 Uwe Flick - Bern 15
  • 16. Quality Management in Qualitative Research a definition of the goals to be reached and the standards of the project to be kept, which should be as clear as possible; all researchers and co-workers have to be integrated in this definition; a definition, how to reach these goals and standards and more generally: the quality to be obtained; a consensus about the way how to apply certain methods maybe through joint interview trainings and their analysis, are preconditions for quality in the research process; a clear definition of the responsibilities for obtaining quality in the research process and the transparency of the judgement and the assessment and quality in the process.18./19. 4. 2008 Uwe Flick - Bern 16
  • 17. Indication in Psychotherapy and Medicine Which disease which which symptoms treatment indicate which diagnosis or which population therapy?18./19. 4. 2008 Uwe Flick - Bern 17
  • 18. Indication in Qualitative ResearchWhich issue whichwhich population method(s)which research question indicate orwhich knowledge whichof issue andpopulation combination of methods?18./19. 4. 2008 Uwe Flick - Bern 18
  • 19. Indication in Qualitative Research When is/are which method(s) appropriate and indicated? Are there criteria for a rational decision for or against specific methods?18./19. 4. 2008 Uwe Flick - Bern 19
  • 20. Sound qualitative research .. ... is based on previous research and refers to state-of-the- art theoretical, methodological and topic-related literature. In this sense it stands „on the shoulder of giants“. – What about explanatory research, new fields and grounded theory research in the strict sense of the word? ... is clearly linked to a social scientific theory like Symbolic Interactionism, Ethnomethodology, Cultural Representation Theory, Hermeneutics, Phenomenology, Discourse Theory or the like. – These are not theories in the strict sense of the word (as far as concerning our context) but research perspectives, which are taken on an issue (or field …) under study.18./19. 4. 2008 Uwe Flick - Bern 20
  • 21. Sound qualitative research .. ... uses only data appropriate within the framework of the particular theory and applies corresponding methods for analysis and interpretation. – This statement is too much theory-driven: Shouldn’t the research perspective be appropriate to the issue under study and then only data be used that are appropriate to the issue under study?18./19. 4. 2008 Uwe Flick - Bern 21
  • 22. Sound qualitative research .. Depending on the particular theory and methods used qualitative research presents an “emic” as well as an “etic” perspective. Including the subjective or “native” point of view does not discharge the researcher from the task of developing and defending his/her own interpretation which may or may not correspond to that of the research subjects. – Nevertheless, it may be appropriate to seek member’s consensus or disagreement for results or evaluations coming from qualitative research, depending on purpose and issue of the research18./19. 4. 2008 Uwe Flick - Bern 22
  • 23. Sound qualitative research .. ... is neither partisan nor indifferent toward social problems, but it aims at differentiating scientific analysis from personal and political stance on a given topic. Qualitative research reveals the complexity of the social world instead of lending itself to simplifications. – In the context of practical/political use (and relevance) of qualitative research it may be necessary to elaborate qualitative results in a way that allows a political argumentation or decision and to condense them in a way that they are comprehensible and relevant for non- researchers if we want to become/remain relevant with our research.18./19. 4. 2008 Uwe Flick - Bern 23
  • 24. Sound qualitative research .. .... is contextualised and the relevant information considering the concrete context is provided (without jeopardising the anonymity of informants, organisations etc.). Generalisations of results beyond this context must be discussed. – Internal generalizability refers to the generalizability of a conclusion within the setting or group studied, while external generalizability refers to its generalizability beyond that setting or group (Maxwell 2005, p. 115).18./19. 4. 2008 Uwe Flick - Bern 24
  • 25. 18./19. 4. 2008 Uwe Flick - Bern 25
  • 26. Types, Goals and Interest groups ...
  • 27. Who may be interested .. Three answers given: – Anyone, who .... – A circular answer: .... qualitative research methods are relevant for those, whose research question can be answered with the relevant qualitative approach and for which appropriate data are available. – It depends ... As there are not enough common characteristics in qualitative research18./19. 4. 2008 Uwe Flick - Bern 27
  • 28. Who may be interested .. Three possible answers – Those who are interested in fields or topics, which are not well accessible for other forms of data – Those who are interested in having a comprehensive range of approaches and tools for social research – Those, who are interested in exploring new fields, finding new insights18./19. 4. 2008 Uwe Flick - Bern 28
  • 29. Types of qualitative methods As the examples of interviews and textual data show, we should distinguish between: – Data collection In this step the interview is a qualitative method depending on how it is applied, but not on how it is analysed in the end – Data analysis Other forms of data are mostly transferred into texts when it comes to analysis (oral data are transcribed, sooner or later, images are described and analysed by using words and texts – Writing about data and findings Any presentations has to be reductionistic in some way, if the reader shall grasp the message of the report. It depends rather on how adequate the selected form of reductionism is to what is under study - in collecting, analysing and presenting the data.18./19. 4. 2008 Uwe Flick - Bern 29
  • 30. Types of qualitative methods Inductive and deductive approaches – Good qualitative research is always a combination of induction (in the beginning) and deduction (along the way) – Research always starts from some assumptions about the field and the issue, it depends rather on how far these assumptions are made explicit and subject of revision against the data18./19. 4. 2008 Uwe Flick - Bern 30
  • 31. Goals of qualitative methods The major goal should be to use methods that are appropriate to issues under study, but also to the fields and participants where these issues are studied – Indication of methods starts from selecting the appropriate ones from the existing range of methods and approaches or from developing new ones if necessary Do methods have goals? – What are the goals of researchers which are normally linked with using specific qualitative methods? – Which methods allow (support, facilitate etc.) to pursue which goals more adequately?18./19. 4. 2008 Uwe Flick - Bern 31
  • 32. Teaching Qualitative Methodology
  • 33. Goals of Teaching MA/PhD level: – Critical selection and reflection of a variety of research methods for one‘s own research project – Independent use of (a variety of) methods for one‘s own research In general: – Combination of an overview and of practical application of selected examples18./19. 4. 2008 Uwe Flick - Bern 33
  • 34. Goals of Teaching Bachelor level in applied areas: – Ability to understand research examples and to distinguish good from bad research – Ability to apply a certain number of methods for answering a limited research questions in a thesis MA/PhD level: – Critical selection and reflection of a variety of research methods for one‘s own research project18./19. 4. 2008 Uwe Flick - Bern 34