Title: Phenomenological Research – Methodology
(Methods and Techniques)
Student: Luis Santos
October 4, 2016
PHENOMENOLOGY RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
1. GENERAL OVERVIEW ABOUT THE METHODOLOGY
When tackling upon Phenomenology Research Methodology, some authors assert that the
researcher should have to start from the point that there is no any definedor specific method
or bunchof methodsattached to this methodology (Holloway, 1997 and Hycner, 1999, p. 143;
for developing procedures conducting to obtain the research objectives and results we are
What is mentionedabove leads us to think that by a good understanding of the concept of
Phenomenology,itsnature and the Researchobjectives,the researchercan conduct hisor her
investigation with different methods, techniques and procedures, especially those associated
withthe Qualitative ResearchMethodologysuchasthe inductive method,andtechniquessuch
as interviews, discussions and participant observation, focus group (Hernandez, R.; 2014 and
Some criteriaand aspectsrelatedto the nature and concept of the Phenomenologythatcould
enable the researchertoconducta Phenomenological Study are presentednext:
Phenomenologyis the study of lived, human phenomena within the everyday social
contextsinwhichthe phenomenaoccurfrom the perspective of those whoexperience
them”(Titschen&Hobson,2011: 121, citedin Pacurar,A. ;2013)
Below, some definitions and key words about Phenomenology cited and stated by Lester, S.
“Pure phenomenological research seeksessentiallytodescribe ratherthanexplain,and
to start froma perspectivefree fromhypothesesorpreconceptions”(Husserl 1970)
“Phenomenologyisconcernedwiththe studyof experiencefromthe perspective of the
“Phenomenological methods are particularly effective at bringing to the fore the
“…is based in a paradigm of personal knowledge and subjectivity, and emphasize the
importance of personal perspectiveandinterpretation”.
On the other hand, Groenewald,T. (2004) cites the next points of view from different authors
“Realities are treated as pure ‘phenomena’ and the only absolute data from where to
“The aim of the researcher is to describe as accurately as possible the phenomenon,
refrainingfromanypre-givenframework,butremainingtrue tothe facts”(Giorgi;cited
Accordingto Welmanand Kruger (1999, p. 189) “the phenomenologistsare concerned
with understanding social and psychological phenomena from the perspectives of
“A researcher applying phenomenology is concerned withthe lived experiences of the
people involved,orwhowere involved,withthe issuethatisbeingresearched”(Greene,
1997; Holloway,1997; Kruger,1988; Kvale,1996; Maypole & Davies,2001; Robinson&
Reed, 1998), and with the “ways in which ordinary members of society attend to their
everydaylives”(Gubrium&Holstein,2000, pp. 488-489)
According to Roberto Hernandez (2014), there are two perspectives on Phenomenological
Studies, the Hermeneutical and Empirical Phenomenology. The first one is centered on the
interpretationof the humanexperienceincludingthe description.The Empirical,transcendental
or Physiological perspective focuses less on the researcher interpretation and more on the
descriptionof the participant’sexperiences.
Finally,inthe attempttoanswerthe questionwhatkind of abilities,conditionsorpre-requisites
Researchersshouldhave fordeveloping aResearchunderthe PhenomenologicalMethodology?,
among a variety of skills, Raquel Ayala (2016) proposes that strong writing skills are very
importantandalsosuggeststhatisdecisive totake onthechallengeof ‘makingexperience’from
the Phenomenology, this is, not to pay attention to the researcher’s limitations to let things
manifestingbythemselvesinthe developmentof theirinvestigations,sothat,these themselves
can become a learningexperience.
2. METHODS AND TECHNIQUES OF THE PHENOMENOLOGICALMETHODOLOGY
As mentioned above, some authors suggested that no prescription or list of defined methods
and techniques are suggested, but the Researcher must follow and observe the concept and
nature of the Phenomenological Methodology,besides asitisstatedbyLester,S.(1999) “if there
isa general principleinvolved,itisthatof minimumstructure andmaximumdepth”.Moreover,
according to Hycner (1999, cited in Groenewald, T.; 2004) “the phenomenon dictates the
method(notvice-versa) includingeventhe type of participants”.
Regardlesswhatismentionedonthe previousparagraph,Lester,S. (1999) and Groenewald,T.
(2004) presentsome guidelinesandcriteriathatcan be useful todevelopaResearchunderthe
The selection of the population of study can be applied to single cases or to serendipitous
This methodology is not strong at setting generalizations. Phenomenological research can
be robustinindicatingthe presence of factorsandtheireffectsinindividual cases,but these
mustbe tentative insuggestingtheirextentinrelationtothe population.
Phenomenological studies make detailed comments about individual situations which do
not lend themselvesto direct generalization in the same way which is sometimesclaimed
In multiple-participant research, the strength of inference increases rapidly once factors
start to recur withmore thanone participant.
As a researcher, seek for a balance betweenkeeping a focus on the research issues and
avoidingundue influence bythe researcher.
Establish a good level of rapport and empathy is critical to gaining depth of information,
particularlywhere investigatingissueswherethe participanthasastrong personal stake.
Accordingto Hernandez,R. (2010/2014) the followingguidelinescanbe takeninto account for
conductinga Phenomenological approach-basedResearch:
Itisnecessaryfirsttoidentifythe phenomenonandafterthat,the dataisgatheredfrom
the people that have experienced it. Finally, a shared-participative description of the
core experience isdevelopedforall participants(2014).
Gatheredinformation fromthe people whohave experiencedthe studiedphenomena
can be related to their feelings, emotions, reasoning, pointsof view,perceptions, etc.
(2010), suchas happiness,anger,sorrow,pain,quietness,determination(2015:493).
The Phenomenonof study isidentifiedsince theProblemdefinitionof the Researchand
it can be as diverse asthe humanexperiencesare (ibid).
A common Research Question of a phenomenological study is: What is the meaning,
structure and core of a person’s lived experience (individual), a group, or community
To minimizegapscomingfromthe researcher,Creswelletal.(2007;citedin Hernandez,
R. 2014) suggeststodescribe the experiencestogetherwiththe participantsanduse at
Finally, as was already said in the first paragraphs, a variety of methods and techniques that
match with Qualitative Research can be taken into account in a Phenomenological-based-
research, including interviews, conversations,participant observation, action research, focus
meetingsandanalysisof personal texts.
2.1.Main activitiesimplementedinaPhenomenological Design
According to Norlyk and Harder (2010; cited in Hernandez, R. 2014), the next activities are
commonlyused inPhenomenological Research:
Data gatheringrelatedto the phenomenon.
Identifythe unitsof analysis.
Generate categories,themes,andpresentpatterninthe descriptionandnarration.
Describe the connectionbetweenparticipantexperiencesrelatedtothe phenomenon.
Determine the phenomenon from the experiences analysis in a constructive and
Developageneral narrativeincludingthe commonanddifferentcategoriesandthemes
(Descriptionof the phenomenon).
Validate the narrative and description of the phenomenon with participants and with
Elaborate a Final Report.
3. PHENOMENOLOGYANT ITS ASSOCIATION WITH OTHER RESEARCH METHODOLOGIES
Hernandez, R. (2010), affirms that the borders among Qualitative designs do not exist. For
example, a study oriented by Fundamental theory embraces Narrative and Phenomenological
The difference betweenthe Narrative andPhenomenological designisthatthe first isfocus on
the connection or succession (sequence) of the events (the chronological point of view or the
sequential history), and the second one, in the essence of the shared-experience (Hernandez,
Hernandez (2010), assertsthat the studentshouldnotbe concernedthat much about whether
his study is, either Narrative or Ethnographic, but instead should be focus on realizing the
Research Study in a systematic and deepway, as well as responding to the ProblemDefinition
On the other hand, Auto-ethnographic study has a close relationship with Phenomenological
study,since the firstone alsogathersexperiences,howevernotfromothers,butfromthe same
researcher(Sparkes,2000; citedinNaidoo,L.; 2013), as it ismentionedbyNaidoo,L. (2013:2)”
Auto-ethnography as a research method became the looking glass that reflected my
Finally, the close relationship between Phenomenological studies and Autobiography and
Ethnographystudiesis settledbecausethe firstone mergesthese twolastResearchDesigns,as
it issaidby Cahnmann-Taylor(2008,citedin Naidoo,L.;2013)
4. EXAMPLES OF PHENOMENOLOGICALBASED-RESEARCH
Roberto Hernandez (2010/2014), cites some cases of studies that can be developed under the
Experiencesof sexual abuse cases.
understandandfeel thisterrible experience.
A cancer case:for example,anindividual internal sensationof breastcancer.
Sensations and feelings coming from experiences such as: insomnia, parental divorce,
couple engagement,preferencesona particularproduct,workingwitha new machine
5. SCOPE AND LIMITATIONS OF THE METHODOLOGY
Accordingto LesterS. (1999), these are some issuesand limitationsthatthisMethodologycan
Expecting similar parameters to apply as for quantitative research, in aspects such as
sample size,statistical validation,accurate general interpretations,etc.
The time to studya big groupof participants canbe limited.
Phenomenological approaches are good at surfacing deep issues and making voices
heard.In sensitive cases,thiscanbe a problemwheninterest’sconflictsare involved.
Furthermore, it is not suggested for generating Generalizations and theoretical models
(Hernandez,R.;2014:493) and accordingto Pacurar, A.(2013) some formsof conceptualization
in advance or preconception from the Researcher could influence later the theoretical
developmentinthe contactbetweenthe researcherandthe empirical data.
5.2.Advantages and scope
Get in-depthinformationandcomprehensionof certain phenomenon.
Suitable forinquiringsensitive cases.
Free of complexitiesof statistical procedures.
Couldbe developedwithLessHumanandmaterial Resources.
Suitable forfieldssuchas Psychology,Education,Nursery,Management(Gallagherand
Francesconi, 2012; citedinAyala,R.;2016), andalso JournalismandLaw.
In the field of Social Sciences, the Phenomenological-based-research is a great asset to the
Academia, since it offers to researchers the possibility to deeply develop Social Studies, being
this, one of the main features of this approach, regardless its limitationsfor generalizations in
the interpretation process and for generating theoretical models as the Fundamental Theory
Phenomenological Methodology is strongly recommended for studying ‘sensitive topics or
phenomena’ such as problems or disorders related to emotions, health, relationships, bad
outstanding experiences such as good performance and success in business, school, sports,
innovations, relationships, andothers.
This Methodology can be developed through a variety of methods, techniques or procedures
associated to the Qualitative Research Model, in a flexible and open way. It means that it can
perfectly be combinedwithdifferentmethods andactivities linkedtothe Social Sciences.
Procedures or Techniques in-situ are best guided by the ‘Defined Problem and Phenomenon’,
including the Objectives and Nature of the Study, rather than an established framework of
prescribed techniques and procedures. In other words, there is not any exclusive method,
technique or procedure strictly attached to the Phenomenological Methodology, and if there
are some few methods or techniques recurrently used in this methodology, based on the
literature I read, these are the Participant observation, Interview, testimony and narrations.
Moreover,triangulationorthe usage of more thanone instruments ortechniquesforgathering
data, can strengthen the Research results.
Finally, some recommendations that the researcher should take into account when following
the Phenomenological Methodology are: a good immersion into the community or studied-
interpretationand results of the Research that could come from preconceptionsor emotional
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HermeneuticPhenomenological Approachwithin the HispanicAmericancontext.
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Hernández,R.;Fernández,C.;Baptista,M.(2014). Metodologíade laInvestigación.6ta.Ed,
Hernández,R.;Fernández,C.;Baptista,M.(2010). Metodologíade laInvestigación. 5ta.Ed.,
Lester,Stan(1999). An introduction to phenomenologicalresearch.Taunton,UK.StanLester
Naidoo, Lingesperi (2013). An Autoethnographic Study of the Person in the Principal’s Office.
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AnEpistemological Controversyuponthe Buildingof ConceptsinGroundedTheory:The
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