SCS2150 Lecture 8: (8) Qualitative Research Methods

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(8) Qualitative Research Methods: Interviews and Case Study
Elite Interviews
Elite: An individual or group with access to the specialized information we need.
In most cases, the size of the elite is very small and difficult to access; therefore, random
sampling cannot be used. Instead, we try to include as many members of the population
as possible in the study.
Interview Example
You are investigating whether Conservative candidates choose to run for the party
because of its economic policies or its moral agenda.
As part of your research design, you have decided that interviews are essential.
1. Whom would you interview and why?
2. Outline the topics you would wish to explore in the interview.
3. What questions could be used to get the information you need?
After class and/or at home, draft an interview framework.
Interview framework (guide or schedule): A set of questions to be asked of the
respondent during the interview. [A list of questions that will be asked to participants in a
qualitative interview. The questions need not be asked in the order in which they are
listed, nor must the interviewer as the questions exactly as worded. The interviewer’s job
is to ensure the questions are answered at some point in the interview process, but
allowing participants to use their own words as much as possible.]
Case Studies
A particular individual, program, or event is studied in depth for a defined period of time.
Sometimes researchers focus on a single case, perhaps because its unique or exceptional
qualities can promote understanding or inform practice for similar situations (e.g. study
one backbench member of Parliament to see if all are alike.).
In other instances, researchers study two or more cases – often cases that are different in
certain key ways – to make comparisons, build theory, or propose generalizations; such
an approach is called a multiple or collective case study.
Background
A case study may be especially suitable for learning more about a little known or poorly
understood situation (e.g. the life of a backbench member of Parliament).
It may also be useful for investigating how an individual or program changes over time,
perhaps as the result of certain circumstances or interventions.
In either event, it is useful for generating or providing preliminary support for
hypotheses.
Its major weakness is that, especially when only a single case is studied, we can’t be sure
that its results are generalizable to other situations.
Method
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