Collecting and Analyzing Qualitative Data (PPT). This MS PowerPoint Presentation contains simplified discussions on the definitions, characteristics, and steps in designing and conducting a qualitative study. If loading of the ppt viewer version takes longer than expected, click the link below to download the file.
Collecting and Analyzing Qualitative Data (Notes)
Hammersley (2013), in the light of contrast with quantitative social science defines qualitative research as “ a form of social inquiry that tends to adopt a flexible and data-driven research design, to use relatively unstructured data, to emphasize the essential role of subjectivity in the research process, to study a small number of naturally occurring cases in detail, and to use verbal rather than statistical forms of analysis” (p.12).
Qualitative research is a distinct approach to scholarly inquiry that may also entail a different set of beliefs regarding the nature of reality (ontology) and ways of knowing (epistemology). The primary supposition underlying post-positivism is that a single reality exists and the function of research is to uncover it. Constructivists and critical theorists, however, assume that there are multiple perspectives on reality and that the aim of research is to explore and document this diversity.
Characteristics of Qualitative Research
1| Open Inquiry. Rather than establishing a set of hypotheses to be tested and specific research questions to be investigated (nature of experimental-quantitative research), researchers typically begin a project with an open mind about they may find, allowing the focus of the research to emerge during data collection and analysis.
2| Inductive. Unlike deductive approaches, qualitative research aims to build theory (i.e., explanations of a phenomenon) from the detailed study of particular instances.
3| Naturalistic. Qualitative research does not attempt to control or manipulate variables, rather, examines how participants think or behave in the course of everyday activities.
4| Descriptive and Interpretive. Qualitative research aims to generate rich description of the setting and phenomena being studied. Consequently, it brings elements together to interpret the significance of these phenomena within the larger issues that are the focus of the research.
5| Multiple Perspectives. Qualitative research incorporates both emic (insider) and etic (outsider) perspectives. Another technique is member checking, in which the researcher follows participants to read and comment upon the researcher’s interpretations, with these comments subsequently being incorporated into the final analysis.
6| Cyclical. In qualitative research, analysis (which is non-linear) typically begins during data collection, and preliminary findings may shape subsequent data collection. The researcher may then device interview questions to obtain participants’ perspectives on the phenomena, and the results of these may in turn redirect the focus of future observations.
7| Attention to Context. A basic tenet of qualitative research is that one cannot understand a phenomenon without attending to the context in which it occurs.
8| Focus on the Particular. Qualitative research tends to operate on a small scale and aims to generate statistically significant findings in the aggregate as representatives of a category.
Hammersley, M. (2013). What is qualitative research. New York, NY: Bloomberry Publishing.
Mackey, A., & Gass, S.M. (2012). Research methods in second language acquisition: A practical guide. West Sussex, UK: Wiley-Blackwell.