Category Archives: Qualitative Research

All my posts about qualitative research. This includes methods, approaches and different types of structures.

Interview skills for Qualitative research

Hand holding a Microphone
Interview skills. Copyright Eclat.co.uk

The majority of research in social science is carried out via a Qualitative approach, where the key research method is either the collection of multiple interviews or focus groups. These interviews are the most essential aspect of your data collection, they help you to understand the phenomenon you are studying in depth. Thus, I am often surprised to see how often researchers go into this crucial data collection process blind. Blind, in that they do very little interview rehearsals, very little time is spent running over different scenarios that may occur in an interview and finally, probably, the most crucial they spend very little time developing their interview skills.

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What is phenomenology?

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“Experience by itself is not science” (Edmund Husserl)

Phenomenology, a word that strikes “fear” into the heart of every qualitative researcher. A lot of this fear is born out of a misunderstanding, a lack of knowledge and in many cases a lack of application. The direct link between phenomenology and experience however cannot be denied.

It is important at this stage to acknowledge that phenomenology is just one mechanism on the “long road” to completion, it may not be the best or the most appropriate viewpoint but as a qualitative researcher you may want to think about how it can be utilised to frame your view of the world.

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What is snowball sampling?

SnowmanThere are many many different ways to develop your sampling strategy. In the past I have spoken about some of these in detail, for example I mention and discuss from a holistic perspective  what is sampling, and why as a concept it is extremely important. In my time as an academic I have come across many proposals, articles, workshop papers and seminars which feel incomplete due to a inappropriate sampling strategy.

In a previous related blog post, I discuss a specific but popular approach of sampling know as purposive sampling, a methodological approach which develops sampling based on specific defined criteria. Judging by the numbers of views these two posts have accumulated it is clear that there is a demand for this type of discussion in a clear and concise manner. It is to this end that today I discuss another very popular method of sampling, known as snowball sampling.

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Using Mobile Devices for Research

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Mobile devices. Copyright bluecoat.com

One of the most daunting tasks for any budding researcher is the data collection process as part of your study. For many researchers this is a part of your work that will test you to the limit and take you far out of your comfort zone. However as with all things there are methods and mechanisms which you can use to make your process as easy, efficient and painless as possible. How I hear you ask? Why mobile devices off course!

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What is Purposive sampling?

Purposive sampling
Finding my sample

Finding the right people at the right time is crucial in collecting data that is usable, viable and valuable. In this post I want to discuss the importance of developing a clear sampling strategy, and why understanding and articulating the decisions you make at this early stage are essential for any research papers, book chapters, articles and dissertations you may wish to write in the future. This paper is a brief continuation of my previous article on what is sampling?

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Book available online …

Conducting research and writing is always a labour of love and dedication. Thus, I was very happy to see that a book chapter I wrote a couple of months ago will soon be available on Amazon within a book called “Culturally Responsive Pedagogy: Working towards Decolonization, Indigeneity and Interculturalism”. The book is initially designated for a  Hardcover release on 20 Jan 2017. You can check it by clicking here.

The book is about Culturally Responsive pedagogy and the importance of academics and teachers reflecting on themselves and on their pedagogy.

My work is on Chapter 2, please do check it out. There is no book cover yet but hopefully once that is live I will update this post.

 

What is sampling?

Sampling approaches
Finding your sample

This blog post attempts to answer one of the fundamental questions of any research project, and one that confuses many a researcher, what is sampling? Why is it important for this research study? First let us be clear the first step within the realm of any social enquiry includes making decisions, which allows for the design and selection of a research sample that matches the focus of this study.

If you are more interested in finding out how many people you should interview, then click here, otherwise continue reading.

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Using Template analysis

Fork in the Road
Which road to take?

Finding an analytical mechanism that can be employed to analyse Qualitative research is a road filled with laughter, tears, pain and in some cases misery. With so many differing approaches to choose from it can be a difficult decision to decide on what you feel is a suitable mechanism to help you analyse those interviews, documents and memos, which you have so meticulously collected over the lifetime of your research. Hence today I want to talk about what is a relatively new method of Qualitative Data Analysis called Template analysis (I say new but it is about 15 years old, so still a teenager!). I will discuss this as a viable alternative to IPA (Interpretative Phenomenological analysis).

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thirteen reasons researchers get asked to write their methods chapter again

Some good advice here. New researchers especially can lose focus.

patter

Dissertation examiners always check the methods chapter or methodological writings carefully. And the more the doctorate is seen as research training, the more important it will be for examiners to make sure that the relevant writings in the thesis really do indicate that the researcher can do the technical stuff properly. So here’s my list of what I look for in methods chapters and/or methodological writings, and what I’ve seen other examiners look for. To know the worst is to be better prepared. Well, that’s the goal.

1. The researcher does not know the difference between methodology and methods.

2. The researcher has written a long essay about epistemology and ontology. They have named their own stance but have failed to develop what it means for their subsequent choices of methodology and research design.

3. The methodology does not fit with the theoretical framework and/or the research tradition of…

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Memoing and Data collection

Note taking
Taking notes when conducting interviews

The collection of data is often a complex affair which really tests the mettle of any budding researcher. There are various mechanisms which help the researcher in collecting data in a comprehensive and logical manner. One of the most popular methods of data collection within a qualitative environment is the Interview. However many qualitative researchers would argue that this is not enough, to much data gets lost!

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