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05 qualitative research

  1. Qualitative Methods in Social Science Research Dr. Kanagaraj Easwaran Associate Professor and Head Department of Social Work School of Social Sciences Mizoram University 009/15/15 1
  2. Structure of Discussion • What is qualitative research? • What are its characteristics? • What are the methods? • What are the Approaches to Qualitative Research? • What are the steps in Qualitative Research? • What are the prerequisites of qualitative research? • How Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches are different? • Are there any similarities between them? • What are the criticisms against qualitative approach? • Where to use qualitative research? 09/15/15 2
  3. What is Qualitative Research • Creswell (1994) “Qualitative research is an inquiry process of understanding based on distinct methodological traditions of inquiry that explore a social or human problem. The researcher builds a complex, holistic picture, analyses words, reports detailed views of informants, and conducts the study in a natural setting”. 09/15/15 3
  4. Some More Definitions Denzin and Lincoln (1994) "Qualitative research is multimethod in focus, involving an interpretive, naturalist approach to its subject matter.“ Gall, Borg, and Gall (1996) "inquiry that is grounded in the assumption that individuals construct social reality in the form of individuals construct social reality in the form of meanings and interpretations, and that these constructions tend to be transitory and situational. The dominant methodology is to discover these meanings and interpretations by studying cases intensively in natural settings an subjecting the resulting data to analytical induction." 09/15/15 4
  5. Characteristics of Qualitative Research  An exploratory and descriptive focus  Emergent design  Data collection in the natural setting  Emphasis on ‘human-as-instrument’  Qualitative methods of data collection  Early and On-going inductive analysis 09/15/15 5
  6. Qualitative Research Alan Bryman •Focus on words rather than quantification in collection of data – Depth not breadth •Epistemological Position – Inductivist, – Constructivist, and Interpretivist – But not always all three 09/15/15 6
  7. Qualitative Methods • People’s words and actions • Rich data • Photographs, audio and Video • Observation • In-depth interviews • Group Interviews(FGDs) • Relevant documents • Multi method Approach 09/15/15 7
  8. Qualitative Approaches • Many approaches not one approach • Biography, • Phenomenology, • Grounded Theory, • Ethnography • Case Study 09/15/15 8
  9. Qualitative Research Process Steps in quantitative research 1.General research question(s) 2.Selection of relevant site(s) and subjects 3.Collection of relevant data 4.Interpretation of data 5.Conceptual and theoretical work 5(a) Tighter specification of the research question 5(b) Collection of further data 1.Writing up findings/conclusions 09/15/15 9
  10. Theory and research • Theory emerges out of collection and analysis of data • Researchers would argue also qualitative research can be important in relation to the testing of theories also • Grounded theory is 1) concerned with the development of theory out of data and 2) the approach is iterative or recursive meaning data collection and analysis proceed in tandem, going back and forward from each other • Grounded theory is not a theory – it is an approach to the generation of theory out of data • In many instances, reports using grounded theory generate concepts rather than theory 09/15/15 10
  11. Concepts in Qualitative Research • Developing measures of concepts not so significant but concepts important • Sensitizing concepts as distinct from definitive concepts (Blumer, 1954) • Definitive concepts concerned re. what is common to the phenomena that the concept is supposed to subsume rather than with variety • Concepts should provide a general sense of what to look for and work to uncover • If too general hard to start as guidelines are too broad • Too narrow problems as like those for definitive concepts 09/15/15 11
  12. Preoccupations of Qualitative Researcher • Reflect level of epistemology beliefs about what knowledge is • Quantitative researchers influenced by natural science approach whilst qualitative influenced by interpretivism • Five preoccupations: 1. Seeing through the eyes of those being studies 2. Abductive reasoning –Theoretical understanding of contexts and people grounded in language, meanings, perspectives of their world view • 3. Description and the emphasis on context • Important because of significance to the subjects and provides account of the context in which behaviour takes place and is thus understood • More than one setting helpful in identifying significance of context 09/15/15 12
  13. 4. Emphasis on process • Process is activities and events unfolding over time in context • Association of ethnographic method and element of participant observation • Can also occur through semi-structured and unstructured interviews by asking for reflection on processes leading up to or following and event • Eg. life-history approach • Documents can be used to reconstruct events and achieve a theoretical understanding • Different data collection methods in qualitative research reflect process 09/15/15 13
  14. 5. Flexibility and limited structure • Possible genuine perspectives revealed • Possible aspects of social life revealed that are of import to the participant but has not been considered by the researcher • Unstructured, semi-structured interviewing methods prominent • sensitizing rather than definitive concepts • Possible alternate routes of enquiry and ways of thinking an outcome of unstructured data collection • Concepts and theory grounded in data • Concepts and theories inductively arrived at from collected data 09/15/15 14
  15. Contrasts between quantitative and qualitative research • Numbers vs words • Point of view of researcher v Point of view of participant • Researcher distant v close • Theory and concepts tested in research v Theory and concepts emergent from data • Static v Process • Structured v Unstructured • Generalisation v Contextual understanding • Hard, reliable data v Rich, deep data • Macro v Micro • Behaviour v Meaning • Artificial settings v Natural settings 09/15/15 15
  16. Similarities between quantitative and qualitative research • Data reduction • Answering research questions • Relating data to research literature • Concerned with variation • Treat frequency as a springboard for analysis • Seek to ensure no deliberate distortion • Argue for importance of transparency • Address the question of error • Each appropriate to the research questions 09/15/15 16
  17. Use of Qualitative Research • Explore new problem • Understand dynamics Process • Lived Experiences • Perspective of People • Helps us to operationalise concepts in quantitative research • Interpret the finding of quantitative research 09/15/15 17
  18. Critique of qualitative research • Too subjective • Difficult to replicate • Problems of generalisations • Lack of transparency – Computer-assisted qualitative data analysis software is leading to greater transparency of processes used for analysing data. 09/15/15 18
  19. Questions Please Thank you 09/15/15 19