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Qualitative Research: Data Collection, Analysis, and Management

INTRODUCTION

❶Theoretically, this would allow someone not connected with the study to review the primary documents and coding schemes to assess whether the findings, interpretations, and conclusions are supported.

Qualitative Research

THE PARTICIPANT’S VIEWPOINT
Quantitative Research
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Complete rapport is established over time as people get to know and trust one another. An important skill in interviewing is being able to ask questions in such a way that the respondent believes that he or she can talk freely. Kirk and Miller described their field research in Peru, where they tried to learn how much urban, lower-middle-class people knew about coca, the organic source of cocaine.

Coca is legal and widely available in Peru. In their initial attempts to get the people to tell them about coca, they received the same culturally approved answers from all the respondents. Only after they changed their style to asking less sensitive questions e. Kirk and Miller made a good point about asking the right questions and the value of using various approaches. Indeed, this is a basic argument for the validity of qualitative research.

Skillful interviewing takes practice. Ways to develop this skill include videotaping your own performance in conducting an interview, observing experienced interviewers, role playing, and critiquing peers. It is important that the interviewer appear nonjudgmental. The interviewer must be alert to both verbal and nonverbal messages and be flexible in rephrasing and pursuing certain lines of questioning.

The interviewer must use words that are clear and meaningful to the respondent and must be able to ask questions so that the participant understands what is being asked. Above all, the interviewer has to be a good listener. The use of a digital recorder is undoubtedly the most common method of recording interview data because it has the obvious advantage of preserving the entire verbal part of the interview for later analysis.

Although some respondents may be nervous to talk while being recorded, this uneasiness usually disappears in a short time. The main drawback with recording is the malfunctioning of equipment. This problem is vexing and frustrating when it happens during the interview, but it is devastating when it happens afterward when you are trying to replay and analyze the interview. Certainly, you should have fresh batteries and make sure that the recorder is working properly early in the interview. You should also stop and play back some of the interview to see whether the person is speaking into the microphone loudly and clearly enough and whether you are getting the data.

Some participants especially children love to hear themselves speak, so playing back the recording for them can also serve as motivation. Remember, however, that machines can malfunction at any time. Video recording seems to be the best method because you preserve not only what the person said but also his or her nonverbal behavior.

The drawback to using video is that it can be awkward and intrusive. Therefore, it is used infrequently. Taking notes during the interview is another common method.

Occasionally note taking is used in addition to recording, primarily when the interviewer wishes to note certain points of emphasis or make additional notations. Taking notes without recording prevents the interviewer from being able to record all that is said. It keeps the interviewer busy, interfering with her or his thoughts and observations while the respondent is talking.

In highly structured interviews and when using some types of formal instrument, the interviewer can more easily take notes by checking off items and writing short responses. The least preferred technique is trying to remember and write down afterward what was said in the interview. The drawbacks are many, and this method is seldom used. Another type of qualitative research technique employs interviews on a specific topic with a small group of people, called a focus group.

This technique can be efficient because the researcher can gather information about several people in one session. The group is usually homogeneous, such as a group of students, an athletic team, or a group of teachers. In his book Focus Groups as Qualitative Research, Morgan discussed the applications of focus groups in social science qualitative research. Patton argued that focus group interviews might provide quality controls because participants tend to provide checks and balances on one another that can serve to curb false or extreme views.

Focus group interviews are usually enjoyable for the participants, and they may be less fearful of being evaluated by the interviewer because of the group setting. The group members get to hear what others in the group have to say, which may stimulate the individuals to rethink their own views.

In the focus group interview, the researcher is not trying to persuade the group to reach consensus. It is an interview. Taking notes can be difficult, but an audio or video recorder may solve that problem.

Certain group dynamics such as power struggles and reluctance to state views publicly are limitations of the focus group interview. The number of questions that can be asked in one session is limited. Such theories are helpful to researchers, as they enable us to think about things from a different perspective. Being aware of the standpoints you are taking in your own research is one of the foundations of qualitative work. It is important for the researcher to reflect upon and articulate his or her starting point for such analysis; for example, in the example, the coder could reflect upon her own experience as a female of a majority ethnocultural group who has lived within middle class and upper middle class settings.

This personal history therefore forms the filter through which the data will be examined. This filter does not diminish the quality or significance of the analysis, since every researcher has his or her own filters; however, by explicitly stating and acknowledging what these filters are, the researcher makes it easer for readers to contextualize the work. For the purposes of this paper it is assumed that interviews or focus groups have been audio-recorded. As mentioned above, transcribing is an arduous process, even for the most experienced transcribers, but it must be done to convert the spoken word to the written word to facilitate analysis.

For anyone new to conducting qualitative research, it is beneficial to transcribe at least one interview and one focus group.

It is only by doing this that researchers realize how difficult the task is, and this realization affects their expectations when asking others to transcribe.

If the research project has sufficient funding, then a professional transcriber can be hired to do the work. If this is the case, then it is a good idea to sit down with the transcriber, if possible, and talk through the research and what the participants were talking about. This background knowledge for the transcriber is especially important in research in which people are using jargon or medical terms as in pharmacy practice. Involving your transcriber in this way makes the work both easier and more rewarding, as he or she will feel part of the team.

Transcription editing software is also available, but it is expensive. For example, ELAN more formally known as EUDICO Linguistic Annotator, developed at the Technical University of Berlin 8 is a tool that can help keep data organized by linking media and data files particularly valuable if, for example, video-taping of interviews is complemented by transcriptions. It can also be helpful in searching complex data sets. Products such as ELAN do not actually automatically transcribe interviews or complete analyses, and they do require some time and effort to learn; nonetheless, for some research applications, it may be a valuable to consider such software tools.

All audio recordings should be transcribed verbatim, regardless of how intelligible the transcript may be when it is read back.

Lines of text should be numbered. Once the transcription is complete, the researcher should read it while listening to the recording and do the following: Dealing with the transcription of a focus group is slightly more difficult, as multiple voices are involved. In addition, the focus group will usually have 2 facilitators, whose respective roles will help in making sense of the data.

While one facilitator guides participants through the topic, the other can make notes about context and group dynamics. While continuing with the processes of coding and theming described in the next 2 sections , it is important to consider not just what the person is saying but also what they are not saying. For example, is a lengthy pause an indication that the participant is finding the subject difficult, or is the person simply deciding what to say?

Smith 9 suggested a qualitative research method known as interpretative phenomenological analysis, which has 2 basic tenets: Larkin and others 10 discussed the importance of not just providing a description of what participants say. Rather, interpretative phenomenological analysis is about getting underneath what a person is saying to try to truly understand the world from his or her perspective.

Once all of the research interviews have been transcribed and checked, it is time to begin coding. Field notes compiled during an interview can be a useful complementary source of information to facilitate this process, as the gap in time between an interview, transcribing, and coding can result in memory bias regarding nonverbal or environmental context issues that may affect interpretation of data.

Coding can be done by hand on a hard copy of the transcript, by making notes in the margin or by highlighting and naming sections of text. More commonly, researchers use qualitative research software e. It is advised that researchers undertake a formal course in the use of such software or seek supervision from a researcher experienced in these tools.

If we read a little more deeply, we can ask ourselves how the participant might have come to feel that the doctor assumed he or she was aware of the diagnosis or indeed that they had only just been told the diagnosis. There are a number of pauses in the narrative that might suggest the participant is finding it difficult to recall that experience. At the end of this excerpt, the participant just trails off, recalling that no-one showed any interest, which makes for very moving reading.

There are no statistical tests that can be used to check reliability and validity as there are in quantitative research. This simple act can result in revisions to the codes and can help to clarify and confirm the research findings. Theming refers to the drawing together of codes from one or more transcripts to present the findings of qualitative research in a coherent and meaningful way.

Thus, when the findings are organized for presentation, each theme can become the heading of a section in the report or presentation. Implications for real life e. This synthesis is the aim of the final stage of qualitative research. There are a number of ways in which researchers can synthesize and present their findings, but any conclusions drawn by the researchers must be supported by direct quotations from the participants.

The work of Latif and others 12 gives an example of how qualitative research findings might be presented.

As has been suggested above, if researchers code and theme their material appropriately, they will naturally find the headings for sections of their report. The final presentation of the research will usually be in the form of a report or a paper and so should follow accepted academic guidelines. In particular, the article should begin with an introduction, including a literature review and rationale for the research.

There should be a section on the chosen methodology and a brief discussion about why qualitative methodology was most appropriate for the study question and why one particular methodology e. The method itself should then be described, including ethics approval, choice of participants, mode of recruitment, and method of data collection e. The findings should be written as if a story is being told; as such, it is not necessary to have a lengthy discussion section at the end. As stated earlier, it is not the intention of qualitative research to allow the findings to be generalized, and therefore this is not, in itself, a limitation.

Generally, qualitative methods are time-consuming and expensive to conduct, and so researchers try to lower the costs incurred by decreasing the sample size or number of respondents. This is considered to be the most common data collection instrument for qualitative research, primarily because of its personal approach.

The interviewer will collect data directly from the subject the interviewee , on a one-on-one and face-to-face interaction. This is ideal for when data to be obtained must be highly personalized. The interview may be informal and unstructured — conversational, even — as if taking place between two casual to close friends. The questions asked are mostly unplanned and spontaneous, with the interviewer letting the flow of the interview dictate the next questions to be asked.

However, if the interviewer still wants the data to be standardized to a certain extent for easier analysis, he could conduct a semi-structured interview where he asks the same series of open-ended questions to all the respondents. But if they let the subject choose her answer from a set of options, what just took place is a closed, structured and fixed-response interview.

Focus groups method is basically an interview method, but done in a group discussion setting. When the object of the data is behaviors and attitudes, particularly in social situations, and resources for one-on-one interviews are limited, using the focus group approach is highly recommended. Ideally, the focus group should have at least 3 people and a moderator to around 10 to 13 people maximum, plus a moderator. Depending on the data being sought, the members of the group should have something in common.

For example, a researcher conducting a study on the recovery of married mothers from alcoholism will choose women who are 1 married, 2 have kids, and 3 recovering alcoholics.

Other parameters such as the age, employment status, and income bracketdo not have to be similar across the members of the focus group. The topic that data will be collected about will be presented to the group, and the moderator will open the floor for a debate.

This method involves the use of previously existing and reliable documents and other sources of information as a source of data to be used in a new research or investigation.

This is likened to how the data collector will go to a library and go over the books and other references for information relevant to what he is currently researching on. In this method, the researcher takes a participatory stance, immersing himself in the setting where his respondents are, and generally taking a look at everything, while taking down notes.

Aside from note-taking, other documentation methods may be used, such as video and audio recording, photography, and the use of tangible items such as artifacts, mementoes, and other tools.

This is a research or data collection method that is performed repeatedly, on the same data sources, over an extended period of time. It is an observational research method that could even cover a span of years and, in some cases, even decades. The goal is to find correlations through an empirical or observational study of subjects with a common trait or characteristic.

The study aimed to gather data on the characteristics of gifted children — and how they grow and develop — over their lifetime. Terman started in , and it extended over the lifespan of the subjects, more than 1, boys and girls aged 3 to 19 years old, and with IQs higher than However, the strength of a case study as a data collection method is attributed to how it utilizes other data collection methods, and captures more variables than when a single methodology is used.

In analyzing the case study, the researcher may employ other methods such as interviewing, floating questionnaires, or conducting group discussions in order to gather data. Data can be readily quantified and generated into numerical form, which will then be converted and processed into useful information mathematically. The result is often in the form of statistics that is meaningful and, therefore, useful. Unlike qualitative methods, these quantitative techniques usually make use of larger sample sizes because its measurable nature makes that possible and easier.

Unlike the open-ended questions asked in qualitative questionnaires, quantitative paper surveys pose closed questions, with the answer options provided. The respondents will only have to choose their answer among the choices provided on the questionnaire. Personal one-on-one interviews may also be used for gathering quantitative data. In collecting quantitative data, the interview is more structured than when gathering qualitative data, comprised of a prepared set of standard questions.

This is straightforward enough. Data may be collected through systematic observation by, say, counting the number of users present and currently accessing services in a specific area, or the number of services being used within a designated vicinity. Have you ever wondered where clinical trials fall? They are considered to be a form of experiment, and are quantitative in nature.

These methods involve manipulation of an independent variable, while maintaining varying degrees of control over other variables, most likely the dependent ones.

Usually, this is employed to obtain data that will be used later on for analysis of relationships and correlations. Quantitative researches often make use of experiments to gather data, and the types of experiments are:.

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Qualitative Research: Data Collection, Analysis, and Management Jane Sutton Zubin Austin, BScPhm, MBA, MISc, PhD, is a Professor in the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy and Murray B Koffler Chair in Management, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario.

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Collecting Data in Qualitative Research Very often data collecting takes place in a defined time period and qualitative data analysis is viewed as a next step in the research process after all data have been collected and transcribed.

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The most common sources of data collection in qualitative research are interviews, observations, and review of documents (Creswell, b; Locke, Silverman, & Spirduso, ; Marshall & Rossman, ). The methodology is planned and pilot-tested before the study. Methods of data collection in qualitative research: interviews and focus groups of particular use if clarification of cer­ guidance on what to talk about, which 3. Conducting qualitative interviews with tain questions are required or if there are many find helpful.

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Qualitative data collection methods play an important role in impact evaluation by providing information useful to understand the processes behind observed results and assess changes in people’s perceptions of their eclipsed.mlrmore qualitative methods can beused to improve the quality of survey-based quantitative evaluations by helping. Qualitative Research Definition: Qualitative research is a market research method that focuses on obtaining data through open-ended and conversational communication. This method is not only about “what” people think but also “why” they think so. The qualitative research method allows for in.