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-Qualitative and quantitative are not distinct.” Dabbs (1982)
-Qualitative research methods are to demonstrate the fruitfulness and often the greater
depth of understanding we can derive from qualitative procedures. There are
significant lasting contributions of qualitative research.
-Qualitative research refers to the meanings, concepts, definitions, characteristics,
metaphors, symbols, and descriptions of things (In contrast, quantitative research
refers to counts and measures of things)
-Participation observation, including interviewing, uses methods as observation of
experimental natural settings, photographic techniques (including videotaping),
historical analysis (histography), document and textual analysis, sociometry,
sociodrama, ethnographic research, and unobtrusive techniques.
Use of Triangulation in Research Methodology
-Each qualitative method researchers use tend to impose certain perspectives on reality,
and thus reveals slightly different facets of the same symbolic reality. We can improve
this by combining several lines of sight and produce a better, more substantive picture
-See figure 1.1. Diagram (Multiple Lines of Action in Triangulation) p. 6
-Triangulation: three known points or objects are used to draw sighting lines toward an
unknown point or object, as these three lines intersect, creates triangle of error. What
we focus on is the centre of the triangle, the best estimate of the true object, or
perhaps, an idea.
-Triangulation is mostly restricted to the use of multiple data gathering techniques
(usually three) to investigate the same phenomenon looking for mutual
confirmation of measures and validation of findings.
-Important in triangulation: to relate the different kinds of data so as to counteract the
threats to validity identified in each
-Denzin: 4 categories of triangulation
-1. Data triangulation has three subtypes
-(a) time, (b) space, and (c) person, which has three levels; -aggregate, -interactive,
-2. Investigator triangulation: multiple observers rather than single observer of the
-3. Theory triangulation: use multiple rather than simple perspectives in relation to the
-4. Methodological triangulation: within-method/between-method triangulation
-Use of Triangulation: to refine, broaden, and strengthen conceptual linkages, and offer
varied perspectives other than their own
-Using two or more methods of data collection to test hypotheses and variables is the
essence of triangulation
-It turns out, however, this use of triangulation is limited, and no single method will
ever meet the requirements of interaction theory (Denzin)
-Nonetheless, using ethnography (“broad umbrella”), for example, includes a variety of
methods such as direct observation, various types of interviewing, listening, and
document analysis and so on. The use of multiple research design strategies and
theories increases the depth of understanding an investigation can yield.
-Qualitative research seeks answers to questions by examining various social settings
and the individuals who inhabit these settings.
-Interested in how humans arrange themselves and their settings and how inhabitants of
these settings make sense of their surroundings
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-Research methods on human beings affect how these persons will be viewed.
-Provide a means of accessing unquantifiable facts about the actual people or people
represented by personal traces
-Allow researchers to share the understanding and perceptions of others and to explore
how people structure and give meaning to their daily lives
-Good qualitative research should be very rigorous. It should be extremely systematic
and can be reproduced by other researchers.
Symbolic interactionist perspective is central to qualitative methodology
-Symbolic interaction: focus on subjective understandings and the perceptions of and
about people, symbols, and objects.
-A set of related propositions that describes and explains certain aspects of human
behavior. What humans say and do are the results of how they interpret their social
-People create their realities differently because these realities are related to how
people create meanings, reality becomes an interpretation of various definitional
Why Qualitative methods?
-Nonscientific: not like “empirical” with quantification, which holds a positivist view
on life-worlds, and utilize empirical methods by providing rigorous, reliable, and
large aggregates of data and statistical testing and so on.
-Life-worlds, in qualitative point of view, include emotions, motivations, symbols and
their meanings and other subjective aspects within individuals and groups, which can
also explain human behavior, experiences and natural settings. Such approach to
social issues is also critical.
Theory: general and more or less comprehensive set of statements or propositions that
describe different aspects of social phenomenon.
-Theory as interrelated ideas about processes, relationships, or events
-Theory as a system of logical statements that explain the relationship between two or
more objects, concepts or phenomena.
-Concepts: smaller components of theory that are symbolic or abstract, and are “basic
building blocks of theory”
-Even a fairly common concept have multiple meanings, such as honesty.
- Vague or unclear definitions create enormous problems.
-Specificity is critical when conducting research.
-Concepts rarely occur in isolation Concept Clusters: one can connect different
concepts or conceptual thoughts to each other through propositions. Propositions are
relationships between concepts.
Ideas and Theories
-From some broad curiosities, you can begin thinking about how some questions can
be explored, or answered, and how you might research these phenomena.
-First, ideas promote potential research endeavors. Second, world is a research
laboratory and there is a sensory reality that surrounds all of us where you can find
numerous ideas for research.
Theory-before-research Model: one begins with ideas and then attempts to disprove or refute
them through tests or empirical research
Research-before-theory Model: do research first, which initiates, reformulates, defects and
Normally the formation of research design goes like this
Idea theorydesigndata collectionanalysisfindings
The author suggests this
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Ideasliterature reviewdesigndata collection and organization—analysis and
-You begin with an idea, gather theoretical information, reconsider and refine your
idea, begin to examine possible designs, reexamine theoretical assumptions, and so
-Ultimately this changes from a linear progression in a single, forward direction to a
“spiraling forward” The Spiraling Research Approach (See figure 2.1) p. 26
-Search for the topics you are interested in from the indexes of other literatures
-You should not be too restrictive in your topics when searching for reference materials
-Avoid being too computer dependent during your literature search. Make sure of the
-Access to information through the Internet: governmental and private sources as well
as online electronic journals, books, archives, and newspapers
-However, be careful in selecting websites, where it can be inaccurate, erroneous, or
fabricated, with possible adware and spyware
The Two-Card Method
-Author Card: Annotate each card with reference information for every article or
literary material you examine. Keep it in alphabetical order to ensure you have
complete information for citations
-Topic Card: include the author’s name, date of publication, a brief topical label, and a
short verbatim excerpt
-Examples of these see p. 33
-Topic cards are easy to locate and make sure you have all the necessary information
needed, and allow you to recognize which authors share the same/similar topic that
you are interested in.
-While reviewing the literatures, there must be a few critical questions on your mind:
-What are the possible research questions? How have others theorized and researched
and found about this topic? Is there any interesting angle you might want to approach?
Theory, Reality, and the Social World
-Distinction between objectivity and subjectivity cognitive reality and
Operationalization and Conceptualization
-When choosing or forming the concepts you want to use, keep in mind there can be
multiple possible definition for a concept, like “delinquent”
-Concepts: clearly define what it is Operationalization: concretize the intended
meaning of a concept in relation to a particular study. It doesn’t necessarily have to be
agreed with everyone as long as people can understand what you mean by certain
concepts. But in qualitative research, agreement on terms or concepts is crucial.
-Not all concepts are easy to define. E.g. the quality of life for chronically ill
patientsphysiological aspects like blood cells or oxygen input OR social aspect like
family support, living arrangements, self-management skills etc.
-E.g. religion: can be defined either as how actively one is involved in religion (what
types of activities?) OR the spiritual aspect of it (how the feeling affects life)
-In designing projects, you can be either very well planned and organized or more
-You must decide whether to use a single data-collection strategy or several strategies
-Sketch out the entire project to foresee any possible errors, and pace yourself well;
when you start and stop
-You must also consider the ethical standards and safeguards for subject’s protection
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