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Qualitative research


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Qualitative research

  1. 1. An Introduction to Qualitative Research Anna Voce Department of Public Health Medicine
  2. 2. Resources <ul><li>Ulin et al (2002) Qualitative methods: A field guide for applied research in Sexual and Reproductive Health. Family Health International. </li></ul><ul><li>Patton MQ (2002) Qualitative Research and Evaluation Methods. 3 rd Edition. Sage Publications </li></ul><ul><li>Resource CD </li></ul>
  3. 3. The complementary nature of research approaches
  4. 4. Approaches to Research <ul><li>Positivist </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Objective, stable reality governed by context-free cause-effect relationships </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Scientific, evidence-based, deductive knowledge </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Research methods structured, replicable, experimental; results are quantifiable </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. <ul><li>Interpretive </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Subjective, socially constructed reality, which must be interpreted </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Knowledge influenced by multiple realities, sensitive to context; research aims to uncover the meaning of phenomena </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Researcher is a co-creator of meaning, brings own subjective experience to the research, methods try to capture ‘insider’ knowledge, research conducted in natural settings </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Mixing methodologies <ul><li>“ Let us be done with the arguments of [qualitative versus quantitative methods] … and get on with the business of attacking our problems with the widest array of conceptual and methodological tools that we possess and they demand.” </li></ul><ul><li>Trow, 1957 In: Ulin et al. (2002) p. 49 </li></ul>
  7. 7. <ul><li>“ A paradigm of choices rejects methodological orthodoxy in favour of methodological appropriateness as the primary criterion for judging methodological quality ” </li></ul><ul><li>McKinlay JB (1993) In: Baum (1995) p.464 </li></ul>
  8. 8. Choosing the appropriate research methodology <ul><li>Quantitative research </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Descriptive (who, how many, where, when, how often) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Analytic (why – causal links) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Applied (test interventions – what change) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Quantitative methods on their own do not offer sufficient understanding of the complex web of relationships between the factors that determine health and disease </li></ul>
  9. 9. <ul><li>Qualitative methods help to: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Explain the factors that influence health and disease </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Understand how individuals and communities understand health and disease </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Study the interactions between players who are relevant to a public health issue </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Answer questions like: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Why did it happen in that context? Why do some participate and others not? How do professionals exert their power? </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Example: Smoking and lung cancer <ul><li>Epidemiological research has established the association b/t smoking and lung cancer </li></ul><ul><li>Qualitative methodology helps to explain: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The power of tobacco companies and advertising </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reasons why people continue to smoke despite the evidence </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Social meaning of smoking (eg among women and the youth) </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Integrating methods <ul><li>Match the research methodology to: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The type of research question </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The nature of the problem being investigated </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Mixing methodologies </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Qual preliminary to QUANT (generate hypotheses) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Quant preliminary to QUAL (guides purposive sampling) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>QUANT followed-up by qual (helps interpret findings) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>QUAL followed-up by quant (tests generalisability) </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. The process of qualitative research
  13. 13. The steps in designing a qualitative study <ul><li>Establish the general problem to be investigated </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Of interest to the researcher </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Stating the purpose of the study </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Based on problem analysis </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Arises from previous studies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Guided by literature review </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Determined by who will use the research results </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. <ul><li>Develop a conceptual/theoretical framework for the study </li></ul><ul><li>Formulate general and specific research questions (aims and objectives) </li></ul><ul><li>Select a qualitative research design </li></ul><ul><li>Select a sampling strategy </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Establish site of the research </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Selection of participants </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. <ul><li>Ensure trustworthiness of the study </li></ul><ul><li>Determine data collection methods and develop data collection tools </li></ul><ul><li>Establish how data will be managed and analysed </li></ul><ul><li>Interpretation and discussion of findings </li></ul><ul><li>Prepare research report </li></ul>
  16. 16. Qualitative research designs
  17. 17. Types of qualitative research designs <ul><li>The case study </li></ul><ul><li>Ethnography </li></ul><ul><li>Grounded theory </li></ul><ul><li>Phenomenology </li></ul><ul><li>Participatory research </li></ul>
  18. 18. The case study
  19. 19. The Case Study <ul><li>Interest is in an individual case rather than in a method of inquiry </li></ul><ul><li>Data may be quantitative or qualitative </li></ul><ul><li>Focus on what can be learned from the individual case </li></ul><ul><li>A ‘case’ may be simple or complex </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Single child </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Class of children </li></ul></ul>
  20. 20. Types of case study <ul><li>Intrinsic </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The case itself is of interest </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Instrumental case study </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A particular case is st u died to provide insight into an issue or to refine a theory </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Collective case study </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A number of cases are studied jointly in order to investigate a phenomenon (instrumental study extended to several cases) </li></ul></ul>
  21. 21. Ethnography
  22. 22. Ethnography <ul><li>Rooted in anthropology </li></ul><ul><li>Also called participant observation/ naturalistic enquiry </li></ul><ul><li>Ethno = people </li></ul><ul><li>Graphy = describing something </li></ul><ul><li>Characterised by immersion </li></ul>
  23. 23. Role of the observer <ul><li>Complete observer </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Behind one-way mirror, invisible role </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Observer as participant </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Known, overt observer </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Participant as observer </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Pseudo-member, research role known </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Complete participant </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Full membership, research role not known </li></ul></ul>
  24. 24. Amount of time in the field site Researcher’s Focus of Attention Not relevant Not Important All details in the field Amount of time in the field site Figure: Focusing in field research (Adapted from Neuman 1997)
  25. 25. Grounded Theory
  26. 26. Grounded Theory <ul><li>Rooted in social sciences </li></ul><ul><li>Emphasises the development of theory </li></ul><ul><li>Which is grounded in data systematically collected and analysed (constant comparative analysis to produce substantive theory) </li></ul><ul><li>Theory must be faithful to the evidence </li></ul><ul><li>Looks for generalisable theory - by making comparisons across situations </li></ul><ul><li>Focus is on patterns of action and interaction </li></ul>
  27. 27. Phenomenology
  28. 28. Features of Phenomenology <ul><li>Rooted in philosophy </li></ul><ul><li>Central question: what is the meaning, structure, and essence of the lived experience of this phenomenon for this person/group of people? </li></ul><ul><li>How is each individual’s subjective reality applied to make experiences meaningful? </li></ul><ul><li>Analysis of the language used </li></ul>
  29. 29. Approaches to Participatory Research
  30. 30. Participatory Action Research (PAR) <ul><li>Emphasises the political aspects of knowledge production </li></ul><ul><li>Concerned about power and powerlessness – empowerment through conscientisation (building self-awareness and constructing knowledge) </li></ul><ul><li>Importance of people’s lived experience – ‘honour the wisdom of the people’ </li></ul><ul><li>Concerned with genuine collaboration </li></ul><ul><li>Democratic values </li></ul>
  31. 31. Action Research <ul><li>Build action theories - action science </li></ul><ul><li>Aim is to develop effective action, improve practice, and implement change </li></ul><ul><li>Cyclical process, alternating between action and reflection </li></ul>
  32. 32. Action-research groups <ul><li>Action-learning group – facilitated or self-directed </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Emphasis on individual learning </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reflection-in-action </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reflection-on-action </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Action-research team </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Focus on operational problems </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Facilitated (technical to empowering continuum) </li></ul></ul>
  33. 33. Sampling in qualitative research
  34. 34. Considerations in sampling <ul><li>Purpose of qualitative research </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Produce information-rich data </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Depth rather than breadth </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Insight rather than generalisation </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Conceptual rather than numerical considerations </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Choose information-rich sites and respondents </li></ul></ul>
  35. 35. Common sampling approach <ul><li>Purposive sampling </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Not haphzard </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Select information-rich cases </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Not the same as convenience sampling </li></ul></ul>
  36. 36. Purposive Sampling Strategies <ul><li>Deviant case sampling </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Information rich cases that are unusual (e.g. In Search of Excellence) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Intensity sampling </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Excellent examples of the phenomenon of interest but not highly unusual cases </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Heterogenous sampling </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Sample people with diverse characteristics to see whether there are common patterns </li></ul></ul>
  37. 37. <ul><li>Homogenous samples </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Describe a particular sub-group in depth </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Typical case sampling </li></ul><ul><ul><li>To describe and illustrate what is typical to a particular setting </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Snowball sampling </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Through informants identify others who know a lot about the issue </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Opportunistic sampling </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Taking advantage of on-the-spot opportunities </li></ul></ul>
  38. 38. Considerations in sample size <ul><li>Saturation </li></ul><ul><li>Redundancy </li></ul><ul><li>Minimum samples based on expected reasonable coverage, given the purpose of the study and constraints </li></ul>
  39. 39. Ensuring the trustworthiness of qualitative research
  40. 40. Criteria for judging the quality and credibility of qualitative research <ul><li>Criteria for judging the quality of qualitative research specific to the research design selected </li></ul><ul><li>General criteria inlcude: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Clear exposition of data collection and analysis methods </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Generating and assessing rival conclusions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Alternative themes, divergent patterns, rival explanations </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Attention to negative cases </li></ul></ul></ul>
  41. 41. <ul><ul><li>Triangulation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Methods – interviews, observations, document analysis </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Sources – public/private, over time, different perspectives </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Analysts – multiple analysts, independent analysis and compare findings </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Theories – to understand how diferent assumptions affect findings, illuminate inconsistencies </li></ul></ul></ul>
  42. 42. <ul><ul><li>Respondent validation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reflexivity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The researcher as research instrument </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Relevance </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Adds to/affirms existing knowledge </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Generalisable to similar settings </li></ul></ul></ul>
  43. 43. Ethical considerations <ul><li>Informed consent </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Possible risks and benefits </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Voluntary participation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Assurances of confidentiality </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Purpose of the research </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How chosen to be a participant </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Data collection procedures </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Whom to contact with questions and concerns </li></ul></ul>
  44. 44. Data Collection Methods
  45. 45. Observation <ul><li>Purpose of observation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Describe the setting </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>First-hand experience – assists with analysis </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>See what is normally taken for granted or not easily spoken about </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Confirm perceptions of respondents </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Requires training, preparation and discipline </li></ul><ul><li>Develop an observation checklist </li></ul>
  46. 46. Types of observation <ul><li>Observer as outsider - unobtrusive </li></ul><ul><li>Participant observation </li></ul><ul><li>Mystery client technique </li></ul>
  47. 47. Sources of observational data <ul><li>The setting </li></ul><ul><li>The human and social environment </li></ul><ul><li>Historical information </li></ul><ul><li>Planned activities </li></ul><ul><li>Informal interactions and unplanned activities </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Native’ language </li></ul><ul><li>Nonverbal communication </li></ul><ul><li>Unobtrusive observations </li></ul><ul><li>Documents </li></ul><ul><li>What does not happen </li></ul><ul><li>Oneself </li></ul>
  48. 48. Document review <ul><li>Negotiate access to important documents at the beginning of the study </li></ul><ul><li>Can help the researcher to identify what needs to be pursued further in direct observation and interviews </li></ul><ul><li>Respect confidentiality – to what extent is the document a public document? </li></ul><ul><li>Use checklist to guide document review </li></ul>
  49. 49. Interviewing <ul><li>Purpose of interviews </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Elicit feelings </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Thoughts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Opinions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Previous experiences </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The meaning people give to certain events </li></ul></ul>
  50. 50. Types of interviews <ul><li>Informal conversational interview </li></ul><ul><li>General interview guide approach </li></ul><ul><li>Standardised open-ended interview </li></ul><ul><li>Closed fixed-response interview </li></ul><ul><li>Combination of approaches </li></ul>
  51. 51. Types of questions <ul><li>Experience and behaviour questions </li></ul><ul><li>Opinion and value questions </li></ul><ul><li>Feeling questions </li></ul><ul><li>Knowledge questions </li></ul><ul><li>Background/demographic questions </li></ul>
  52. 52. Focus Group Discussion <ul><li>Purpose of FGD </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Get a variety of perspectives/reactions to a certain issue </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>In a short time </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mainly for eliciting opinions, values, feelings </li></ul></ul>
  53. 53. Advantages <ul><li>Cost-effective </li></ul><ul><li>Quality of data enhanced by group participants </li></ul><ul><li>Can quickly assess the extent to which there is agreement or diversity on an issue </li></ul><ul><li>Enjoyable for participants </li></ul>
  54. 54. Limitations <ul><li>Restricts number of questions that can be asked </li></ul><ul><li>Responses by each participant may be constrained </li></ul><ul><li>Requires group process skills </li></ul><ul><li>Silences the minority view </li></ul><ul><li>Confidentiality not assured </li></ul><ul><li>Explores major themes, not subtle differences </li></ul><ul><li>Outside of natural setting </li></ul>
  55. 55. Holding a FGD <ul><li>Homogenous </li></ul><ul><li>Strangers </li></ul><ul><li>6-10 people </li></ul><ul><li>1-2 hours </li></ul><ul><li>2 FGD per type of respondent </li></ul><ul><li>Moderator and note taker </li></ul><ul><li>Prepare discussion guide </li></ul>
  56. 56. Qualitative data analysis
  57. 57. Stages in qualitative data analysis <ul><li>Qualitative data analysis is a non-linear / iterative process </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Numerous rounds of questioning, reflecting, rephrasing, analysing, theorising, verifying after each observation, interview, or Focus Group Discussion </li></ul></ul>
  58. 58. <ul><li>During data collection </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Reading – data immersion – reading and re-reading </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Coding – listen to the data for emerging themes and begin to attach labels or codes to the texts that represent the themes </li></ul></ul>
  59. 59. <ul><li>After data collection </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Displaying – the themes (all information) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Developing hypotheses, questioning and verification </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reducing – from the displayed data identify the main points </li></ul></ul>
  60. 60. <ul><li>Interpretation (2 levels) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>At all stages – searching for core meanings of thoughts, feelings, and behaviours described </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Overall interpretation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Identify how themes relate to each other </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Explain how study questions are answered </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Explain what the findings mean beyond the context of your study </li></ul></ul></ul>
  61. 61. Processes in qualitative data analysis <ul><li>Reading / Data immersion </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Read for content </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Are you obtaining the types of information you intended to collect </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Identify emergent themes and develop tentative explanations </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Note ( new / surprising ) topics that need to be explored in further fieldwork </li></ul></ul></ul>
  62. 62. <ul><ul><li>Read noting the quality of the data </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Have you obtained superficial or rich and deep responses </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>How vivid and detailed are the descriptions of observations </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Is there sufficient contextual detail </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Problems in the quality of the data require a review of: </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>How you are asking questions (neutral or leading) </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The venue </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The composition of the groups </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The style and characteristics of the interviewer </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>How soon after the field activity are notes recorded </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Develop a system to identify problems in the data (audit trail) </li></ul></ul></ul>
  63. 63. <ul><ul><li>Read identifying patterns </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>After identifying themes, examine how these are patterned </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Do the themes occur in all or some of the data </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Are their relationships between themes </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Are there contradictory responses </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Are there gaps in understanding – these require further exploration </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  64. 64. <ul><li>Coding – </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>No standard rules of how to code </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Emergent </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Borrowed </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Record coding decisions </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Record codes, definitions, and revisions </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Usually - insert codes / labels into the margins </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Building theme related files </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Cut and paste together into one file similarly coded blocks of text </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>NB identifiers that help you to identify the original source </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Identify sub-themes and explore them in greater depth </li></ul></ul></ul>
  65. 65. <ul><li>Displaying data </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Capture the variation or richness of each theme </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Note differences between individuals and sub-groups </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Return to the data and examine evidence that supports each sub-theme </li></ul></ul>
  66. 66. <ul><li>Developing hypotheses, questioning and verification </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Extract meaning from the data </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Do the categories developed make sense? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What pieces of information contradict my emerging ideas? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What pieces of information are missing or underdeveloped? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What other opinions should be taken into account? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How do my own biases influence the data collection and analysis process? </li></ul></ul>
  67. 67. <ul><li>Data reduction </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>i.e.distill the information to make visible the most essential concepts and relationships </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Get an overall sense of the data </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Distinguish primary/main and secondary/sub- themes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Separate essential from non-essential data </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use visual devices – e.g. matrices, diagrams </li></ul></ul>
  68. 68. <ul><li>Interpretation </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>i.e. identifying the core meaning of the data, remaining faithful to to the perspectives of the study participants but with wider social and theoretical relevance </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Credibility of attributed meaning </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Consistent with data collected </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Verified with respondents </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Present multiple perspectives (convergent and divergent views) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Did you go beyond what you expected to find? </li></ul></ul></ul>