Wilhelm van Rensburg Qualitative Research Methodology


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Wilhelm van Rensburg Qualitative Research Methodology

  1. 1. Wilhelm van Rensburg Qualitative Research Methodology
  2. 2. Research Activity: Guiding Questions <ul><li>What cultural information does this article include? (Start by analyzing the different social practices, or ‘discourses’ represented in the article) </li></ul><ul><li>What questions could you ask to further uncover this culture? </li></ul><ul><li>In what ways are the questions of a qualitative researcher different to those of a journalist? </li></ul><ul><li>What other information does a qualitative researcher need to answer the question: What is going on here? </li></ul>
  3. 3. Discourse <ul><li>Discourse is not merely ‘stretches of language’. It is about “being together in the world” (Gee): social groups organize their lives around concepts, purposes, values, beliefs, ideals, theories, notions of reality, actions, and the like. Through Discourse human life is organized and understood – it can be ‘read’ as having ‘meaning’ – by ourselves and by others (Lankshear) </li></ul>
  4. 4. Towards a definition <ul><li>Qualitative Research is a form of social action </li></ul><ul><li>Qualitative research is balancing creative opportunity and maintaining scientific principles: </li></ul>
  5. 5. <ul><li>Creative exploration makes qualitative research akin to the research we all do in everyday life </li></ul><ul><li>As in the rest of everyday life, researchers, like other people, are ideologically motivated </li></ul><ul><li>Approaching the research setting appropriately involves interaction between the culture of the setting and the culture of research </li></ul><ul><li>Accounting for the research strategy, to demonstrate how the ‘balance’ is maintained, requires careful articulation which resides in the conventions of research language </li></ul><ul><li>All in all, qualitative research is learning culture </li></ul>
  6. 6. How to do research, or learn about a culture <ul><li>Qualitative and quantitative research paradigms: the case of surveys and experiments </li></ul><ul><li>Is it all about ‘counting’? </li></ul>
  7. 7. Example 1: Car survey <ul><li>To find out the proportion of Ford cars to Peugeots in a particular country. This would entail counting the number of each. If it is not possible to find out every single occurrence, a sample may be taken. Statistical analysis tells us both how many, or what percentage of each, and how valid the sample is in representing the whole. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Example 2: Car experiment <ul><li>To test the hypothesis that more Ford cars will be bought if prospective first-time buyers are exposed to advertising that says they are safer. A sample of first-time buyers is exposed to the advertising; another sample is not; and the degree to which each group buys Fords is measured. A variety of techniques is employed to reduce contamination. For example, the age and social class of the subjects are kept constant </li></ul>
  9. 9. Example 3: Car study <ul><li>An exploration of attitudes towards Ford car adverts. An advert is played on video in three public spaces frequented by members of the target first-time buyer group, and their comments recorded. This is followed up by group interviews, which explore the topics arising from the comments. The public spaces are visited one year later, and the same people are interviewed about which cars they bought and what this means to them </li></ul>
  10. 10. So: the quantitative paradigm <ul><li>Activities: </li></ul><ul><li>Counts occurrences across a large population </li></ul><ul><li>Uses statistics and replicability to validate generalization from survey samples and experiments </li></ul><ul><li>Attempts to reduce contaminating social variables </li></ul>
  11. 11. cont <ul><li>Beliefs </li></ul><ul><li>Conviction about what it is important to look for </li></ul><ul><li>Confidence in established research instruments </li></ul><ul><li>Reality is not so problematic if the research instruments are adequate; and conclusive results are feasible </li></ul>
  12. 12. About qualitative research <ul><li>Activities </li></ul><ul><li>Looks deeply into the quality of social life </li></ul><ul><li>Locates the study within particular settings which provide opportunities for exploring all possible social variables; and set manageable boundaries </li></ul><ul><li>Initial foray into the social setting leads to further, more informed exploration as themes and focuses emerge </li></ul>
  13. 13. cont <ul><li>Beliefs </li></ul><ul><li>1. Conviction that what is important to look for will emerge </li></ul><ul><li>2. Confidence in an ability to devise research procedures to fit the situation and the nature of the people in it, as they are revealed </li></ul><ul><li>3. Reality contains mysteries to which the researcher must submit, and can do no more than to interpret. </li></ul>
  14. 14. Research Paradigmatic Choices <ul><li>Only Quantitative or Qualitative? </li></ul><ul><li>The case of ‘Mixed Methods’ (converging, connecting, embedding quantitative & qualitative methods) </li></ul><ul><li>Johan Mouton’s ‘Three Worlds’ model </li></ul><ul><li>And even more paradigmatic possibilities! </li></ul>
  15. 15. The key <ul><li>The purpose statement of your study: </li></ul><ul><li>“The purpose of this study is to …” </li></ul><ul><li>It is all in the verb ! </li></ul>
  16. 16. Some strong verbs <ul><li>Test, prove, experiment, predict, estimate </li></ul><ul><li>Understand, describe, [analyze], [investigate] </li></ul><ul><li>Build, construct, create [determine], [differentiate] </li></ul><ul><li>Change, de-construct, emancipate, redress, transform </li></ul><ul><li>Participate, co-construct, co-operate </li></ul>
  17. 17. Paradigms <ul><li>Denzin & Lincoln (2005): </li></ul><ul><li>Positivist </li></ul><ul><li>Post-positivist </li></ul><ul><li>Critical Theory </li></ul><ul><li>Constructivist </li></ul><ul><li>Participatory </li></ul>
  18. 18. More paradigmatic taxonomies <ul><li>LeCompte & Schensul (1999) </li></ul><ul><li>Positivist approaches </li></ul><ul><li>Interpretive approaches </li></ul><ul><li>Critical approaches </li></ul><ul><li>Ecological approaches </li></ul><ul><li>(Levels of influence of family, peers, school, work, community and society on the individual) </li></ul><ul><li>Network approaches </li></ul><ul><li>(Relationships within and between individuals as a consequence of social relationships) </li></ul>
  19. 19. About paradigms <ul><li>Legitimacy </li></ul><ul><li>More interest/studies/ practitioners/conferences. A ‘qualitative turn’ in social sciences precipitated by an interpretivist, postmodernist, critical stance </li></ul><ul><li>Hegemony: </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Blurring of genres’, ‘Paradigms not in contestation with one another, but seeking confluences (e.g. Action Research and Critical Theory), controversial issues (e.g. validity, voice/inquirer posture, reflexivity), and contradictions (e.g. Experiment vs Action Research), etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Ethics, responsibility </li></ul><ul><li>Morality </li></ul><ul><li>Spirituality </li></ul>
  20. 20. Basic beliefs of each paradigm <ul><li>Ontology: </li></ul><ul><li>Pos.: ‘Naïve realism’ - ‘real’ reality, but apprehensible </li></ul><ul><li>Inerpret.: ‘Critical realism – ‘real’ reality but only imperfectly and probabilistically apprehensible </li></ul><ul><li>Crit.: ‘Historical realism – virtual reality shaped by social, political. Cultural, economic, ethnic, and gender values; crystallized over time. </li></ul><ul><li>Construct.: Relativism – local and specific co-constructed realities </li></ul><ul><li>Part.: Participative reality – subjective-objective reality, co-created by mind and given ‘world’ </li></ul>
  21. 21. Basic Beliefs (cont) <ul><li>Epistemology </li></ul><ul><li>Pos.: Dualist/objectivist; findings true </li></ul><ul><li>Interpret.: modified dualist/objectivist; critical tradition/community; finding probably true </li></ul><ul><li>Crit.: Transactional/subjectivist; value mediated findings </li></ul><ul><li>Constuct.: Transactional/subjectivist; co-created findings </li></ul><ul><li>Part.: Critical subjectivity in participatory transaction with world; experiential, propositional and practical knowing; co-created findings </li></ul>
  22. 22. Basic Beliefs (cont) <ul><li>Methodology </li></ul><ul><li>Pos.: Experimental/manipulative; verification of hypotheses; chiefly quantitative methods. </li></ul><ul><li>Interpret.: qualitative methods </li></ul><ul><li>Crit.: Dialogic/dialectic </li></ul><ul><li>Construct.: Hermeneutical/dialectical </li></ul><ul><li>Part.: Political participation in collaborative action inquiry; primacy of practical </li></ul>
  23. 23. Critical issues for each of these paradigms <ul><li>Axiology </li></ul><ul><li>Accommodation & commensurability </li></ul><ul><li>Action </li></ul><ul><li>Control </li></ul><ul><li>Epistemology </li></ul><ul><li>Validity (‘goodness criteria’) </li></ul><ul><li>Voice, reflexivity, postmodern representation </li></ul>
  24. 24. Questions, questions … <ul><li>What is the pivot around which your study revolves? What are your basic beliefs? In what way does your study relate to ‘the world’? </li></ul><ul><li>What do you plan to do with the results of your study? </li></ul><ul><li>To what extent are you in control of your study? </li></ul><ul><li>What knowledge do you want to generate? </li></ul><ul><li>How do you know your findings will be sufficiently authentic/trustworthy/related to the way others see/construct their worlds/the basis for contracts/legislation? </li></ul><ul><li>In what voice do you want to speak? </li></ul><ul><li>How do you conceive of yourself as a researcher? </li></ul><ul><li>How do you ideally want to represent your findings? </li></ul>
  25. 25. Unpacking some critical issues <ul><li>Axiology: the branch of philosophy dealing with ethics, aesthetics and religion. Your basic beliefs/values guiding the choice of problem, paradigm, theoretical framework, data gathering, analysis, format, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Commensurability: Can paradigms be measured by the same standard? </li></ul><ul><li>Action: Action on the research results? Advocacy/subjectivity/change? </li></ul>
  26. 26. (cont) <ul><li>Validity </li></ul><ul><li>Criterion-referenced (judging processes and outcomes) vs ‘a farewell to criteriology’ (Schwandt, 2000) (radical/practical philosophy/ transformative): </li></ul><ul><li>Generate knowledge that complements/supplements rather than displaces lay probing of social problems </li></ul><ul><li>Enhance critical intelligence </li></ul><ul><li>Can the research findings be used to legislate, train, calibrate human judgment </li></ul>
  27. 27. Validity (cont) <ul><li>2. Authenticity: Fairness, Ontological, Educative, Catalystic, and Tactical Authenticity </li></ul><ul><li>3. Ethical relationships: </li></ul><ul><li>Positionality,/standpoint/judgment; specific discourse community to keep in line; voice; critical subjectivity, reciprocity, sacredness (how science contribute to human flourishing) </li></ul><ul><li>4. Post-structural transgressions: poems/plays, the crystalline (Richardson) </li></ul>
  28. 28. Qualitative Research: Where does it come from? <ul><li>Started in the 1920/30 in Sociology (Chicago School) and Anthropology (Mead, Malinowski) as “the study of human group life”. Other disciplines such as Education, History, Political Science, Business, Medicine, Nursing, Social Work, Communication quickly followed in its wake. </li></ul>
  29. 29. Qualitative Research (cont) <ul><li>Connotations: </li></ul><ul><li>“Mere fieldwork” </li></ul><ul><li>A measure of ‘control’ </li></ul><ul><li>“Subordinates the status of scientific research” </li></ul><ul><li>‘Humanistic’ </li></ul><ul><li>“Imperialist and colonial” </li></ul><ul><li>“A racist project” </li></ul>
  30. 30. What is qualitative research? <ul><li>A collective noun: ‘A loosely defined category of research designs or models and methodologies, covering a wide range of disciplines, fields, subject matter, concepts, and assumptions, which elicit verbal, visual, tactile, and olfactory data in the form of descriptive narratives such as field notes, transcriptions of audio and/or video recordings and other written records. It is multi-method in focus. Qualitative researchers study things in ‘natural settings’ (Denzin & Lincoln). </li></ul><ul><li>An approach to knowledge production: interpretive, generative, constructivist, transformative, critical </li></ul>
  31. 31. Preferences of qualitative researchers <ul><li>Analysis of words and pictures rather than numbers </li></ul><ul><li>Naturally occurring data: observation rather than experiment, unstructured rather than structured interviews </li></ul><ul><li>Meaning rather than behaviour; attempt to investigate the world from the point of view of people studied </li></ul><ul><li>Skeptic about natural science as a model </li></ul><ul><li>Inductive, hypothesis-generating research rather than hypothesis testing </li></ul><ul><li>(Silverman, 2000) </li></ul>
  32. 32. Common qualitative research designs <ul><li>Ethnography </li></ul><ul><li>Field study </li></ul><ul><li>Community study </li></ul><ul><li>Case study </li></ul><ul><li>Life story and autobiographical method </li></ul><ul><li>Document and historical study </li></ul><ul><li>Survey study </li></ul><ul><li>Auto-ethnography </li></ul><ul><li>Narrative inquiry </li></ul><ul><li>Portraiture </li></ul><ul><li>Action Research, collaborative research </li></ul><ul><li>Observational studies </li></ul>
  33. 33. How are qualitative data collected? <ul><li>Participant observation </li></ul><ul><li>Non-participant observation </li></ul><ul><li>Interviews: individual, focus group </li></ul><ul><li>Surveys </li></ul><ul><li>Artifacts, documents </li></ul><ul><li>Data may be generated face-to-face, or via telephone, email, internet </li></ul>
  34. 34. How are qualitative data analyzed? <ul><li>Analytic induction </li></ul><ul><li>Constant comparison </li></ul><ul><li>Typological analysis </li></ul><ul><li>Narrative analysis </li></ul><ul><li>Semiotic analysis </li></ul><ul><li>Discourse analysis </li></ul><ul><li>Conversation analysis </li></ul><ul><li>Content analysis </li></ul>
  35. 35. When is qualitative research used? <ul><li>Description: What is happening here? </li></ul><ul><li>Detailed accounts of events, experiences, activities </li></ul><ul><li>Fresh perspectives on familiar phenomena </li></ul><ul><li>Participants’ views of processes, groups, settings </li></ul><ul><li>Subjective accounts of phenomena </li></ul><ul><li>Analysis: What does this mean? </li></ul><ul><li>Connections and relationships </li></ul><ul><li>Context and its influences </li></ul><ul><li>Differing perspectives toward phenomena </li></ul><ul><li>Theory: How can this be understood or explained? </li></ul><ul><li>Philosophical perspectives </li></ul><ul><li>Socio-cultural, psychological, economic and political constraints </li></ul><ul><li>Ideological interpretations such as critical or feminist theories </li></ul>
  36. 36. Differences between qualitative and quantitative research? <ul><li>Qualitative Quantitative </li></ul><ul><li>Soft Hard </li></ul><ul><li>Flexible Fixed </li></ul><ul><li>Subjective Objective </li></ul><ul><li>Political Value-free </li></ul><ul><li>Speculative Hypothesis testing </li></ul><ul><li>Grounded Abstract </li></ul>
  37. 37. (cont) <ul><li>More inductive </li></ul><ul><li>Grounded in thick descriptive accounts </li></ul><ul><li>More discovery oriented </li></ul><ul><li>Fewer people are studied more intensively </li></ul><ul><li>Subjective as well as objective data and stances </li></ul><ul><li>Recursive </li></ul><ul><li>Triangulation </li></ul><ul><li>Naturalistic </li></ul><ul><li>Researcher as instrument </li></ul>
  38. 38. What makes a qualitative study good? <ul><li>Thick, descriptive accounts of what is being studied </li></ul><ul><li>Intensive investigation over time </li></ul><ul><li>Multiple approaches, triangulation </li></ul><ul><li>Participant corroboration </li></ul><ul><li>Thorough description and appropriate development of selection of research methods and research design </li></ul><ul><li>Reflective accounts of the researchers’ experiences </li></ul><ul><li>Authenticity, credibility, insightfulness, clarity, comprehensiveness </li></ul><ul><li>Thorough consideration of previous literature </li></ul><ul><li>Assessment of evidence and alternative explanations for patterns discovered. </li></ul>
  39. 39. What criteria can we use to assess the quality of research? <ul><li>How far can we demonstrate that our research has mobilized the conceptual apparatus of our social sciences disciplines, and thereby, helped to build useful social theories? </li></ul><ul><li>How far can our data, method and findings satisfy the criteria of reliability and validity? </li></ul>
  40. 40. (cont) <ul><li>To what extent do our preferred research methods reflect careful weighting of the alternatives or simple responses to time and resource constraints or even an unthinking adoption of the current fashion? </li></ul><ul><li>How can valid, reliable and conceptually defined qualitative studies contribute to practice and policy by revealing something new to practitioners, clients and/or policy makers? </li></ul><ul><li>Source: Silverman, 2000, p284 </li></ul>
  41. 41. Characteristics of good qualitative researchers <ul><li>Comfortable with ambiguity </li></ul><ul><li>Comfortable with a range of methodological possibilities and a range of interpretations </li></ul><ul><li>Have a killer instinct for data </li></ul><ul><li>Have a proclivity to seek patterns </li></ul><ul><li>Are highly intuitive in that they are sensitive to context (physical settings and people, overt and covert agendas, verbal and nonverbal behaviours) </li></ul><ul><li>Are able to live with long periods of boredom </li></ul>
  42. 42. (cont) <ul><li>Have a keen sense of timing, particularly in interviews </li></ul><ul><li>Are able to establish rapport with others </li></ul><ul><li>Are empathetic </li></ul><ul><li>Are excellent listeners </li></ul><ul><li>Aren’t easily embarrassed or judgmental </li></ul><ul><li>Are extremely well-organized </li></ul><ul><li>Are good writers who can describe phenomena clearly and in interesting detail </li></ul><ul><li>Are self-critical, self-analytical, and are capable of detachment </li></ul><ul><li>Are enthusiastic bricoleurs (Denzin & Lincoln, 2005) </li></ul>
  43. 43. Do you qualify? <ul><li>What exactly makes your study a qualitative study (or something else)? </li></ul><ul><li>What qualities makes you a potentially good qualitative researcher? </li></ul>
  44. 44. The next step <ul><li>Theoretical frameworks </li></ul><ul><li>Conceptual frameworks </li></ul><ul><li>Literature reviews </li></ul>