Also, note the limitations of your study and, if appropriate, place them in the context of areas in need of further research.
Chenail, Ronald J. Introduction to Qualitative Research Design. Nova Southeastern University; Heath, A. The Proposal in Qualitative Research. Leonard Bickman and Debra J. Rog, eds. Writing CSU. Qualitative Research from Start to Finish. New York: Guilford, The advantage of using qualitative methods is that they generate rich, detailed data that leave the participants' perspectives intact and provide multiple contexts for understanding the phenomenon under study.
In this way, qualitative research can be used to vividly demonstrate phenomena or to conduct cross-case comparisons and analysis of individuals or groups. Among the specific strengths of using qualitative methods to study social science research problems is the ability to:. Anderson, Claire. It is very much true that most of the limitations you find in using qualitative research techniques also reflect their inherent strengths. For example, small sample sizes help you investigate research problems in a comprehensive and in-depth manner.
However, small sample sizes undermine opportunities to draw useful generalizations from, or to make broad policy recommendations based upon, the findings. Additionally, as the primary instrument of investigation, qualitative researchers are often imbedded in the cultures and experiences of others. However, cultural embeddedness increases the opportunity for bias generated from conscious or unconscious assumptions about the study setting to enter into the way data is gathered, interpreted, and reported.
Some specific limitations associated with using qualitative methods to study research problems in the social sciences include the following:. Almost every socio-behavioral study requires you to submit your proposed research plan to an Institutional Review Board. The role of the Board is to evaluate your research proposal and determine whether it will be conducted ethically and under the regulations, institutional polices, and Code of Ethics set forth by the university.
The purpose of the review is to protect the rights and welfare of individuals participating in your study. The review is intended to ensure equitable selection of respondants, that you have obtained adequate informed consent, that there is clear assessment and minimization of risks to participants and to the university [read: no lawsuits!
SAGE publications is a major publisher of studies about how to design and conduct research in the social and behavioral sciences. The database also includes case studies outlining the research methods used in real research projects. This is an excellent source for finding definitions of key terms and descriptions of research design and practice, techniques of data gathering, analysis, and reporting, and information about theories of research [e.
The database covers both qualitative and quantitative research methods as well as mixed methods approaches to conducting research. Contact us. Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper: Qualitative Methods This guide provides advice on how to develop and organize a research paper in the social and behavioral sciences. The Conclusion Toggle Dropdown Appendices Definition The word qualitative implies an emphasis on the qualities of entities and on processes and meanings that are not experimentally examined or measured [if measured at all] in terms of quantity, amount, intensity, or frequency.
Characteristics of Qualitative Research Below are the three key elements that define a qualitative research study and the applied forms each take in the investigation of a research problem. The Design Naturalistic -- refers to studying real-world situations as they unfold naturally; nonmanipulative and noncontrolling; the researcher is open to whatever emerges [i.
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Purposeful -- cases for study [e. That is, they offer useful manifestations of the phenomenon of interest; sampling is aimed at insight about the phenomenon, not empirical generalization derived from a sample and applied to a population. Empathic neutrality -- an empathic stance in working with study respondents seeks vicarious understanding without judgment [neutrality] by showing openness, sensitivity, respect, awareness, and responsiveness; in observation, it means being fully present [mindfulness].
Dynamic systems -- there is attention to process; assumes change is ongoing, whether the focus is on an individual, an organization, a community, or an entire culture, therefore, the researcher is mindful of and attentive to system and situational dynamics.
The Analysis Unique case orientation -- assumes that each case is special and unique; the first level of analysis is being true to, respecting, and capturing the details of the individual cases being studied; cross-case analysis follows from and depends upon the quality of individual case studies. Inductive analysis -- immersion in the details and specifics of the data to discover important patterns, themes, and inter-relationships; begins by exploring, then confirming findings, guided by analytical principles rather than rules.
Context sensitive -- places findings in a social, historical, and temporal context; researcher is careful about [even dubious of] the possibility or meaningfulness of generalizations across time and space; emphasizes careful comparative case analyses and extrapolating patterns for possible transferability and adaptation in new settings.
Voice, perspective, and reflexivity -- the qualitative methodologist owns and is reflective about her or his own voice and perspective; a credible voice conveys authenticity and trustworthiness; complete objectivity being impossible and pure subjectivity undermining credibility, the researcher's focus reflects a balance between understanding and depicting the world authentically in all its complexity and of being self-analytical, politically aware, and reflexive in consciousness. Basic Research Design for Qualitative Studies Unlike positivist or experimental research that utilizes a linear and one-directional sequence of design steps, there is considerable variation in how a qualitative research study is organized.
Strengths of Using Qualitative Methods The advantage of using qualitative methods is that they generate rich, detailed data that leave the participants' perspectives intact and provide multiple contexts for understanding the phenomenon under study. Among the specific strengths of using qualitative methods to study social science research problems is the ability to: Obtain a more realistic view of the lived world that cannot be understood or experienced in numerical data and statistical analysis; Provide the researcher with the perspective of the participants of the study through immersion in a culture or situation and as a result of direct interaction with them; Allow the researcher to describe existing phenomena and current situations; Develop flexible ways to perform data collection, subsequent analysis, and interpretation of collected information; Yield results that can be helpful in pioneering new ways of understanding; Respond to changes that occur while conducting the study ]e.
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