STUDY UNIT 3 QUANTITATIVE RESEARCH METHODS Qualitative research designs…
STUDY UNIT 3 QUANTITATIVE RESEARCH METHODS
Qualitative research designs and methods
What does a field researcher do?
When do we use field research?
•To describe/understand interacting subjects (relationships/social phenomenon)
Usually to address qns of “how”; “What is it like”
Some of the focus elements
Explaining subjective social phenomenon
Field researchers see society as constructed through the subjective experience of its members and keen to
explore and provide an explanation for the unique phenomenon
Through understanding the social realities as constructed by the incumbents, the researcher gained a richer and
in -depth understanding of the meanings of the events
Process vs outcome
Focus on the process rather than the outcome, with the researchers being more interested in
understanding how and why
2. Choose a site and gain access
negotiate with Gatekeepers
i.e. individuals who control access to the sites or specific activities
Observe and learn how to
build up relations
for access to exclusive sites or information
Level of involvement
: maintain certain
: member induction and participates, though withdraw from periodically
: goes native and fully commit; experiencing the same emotions as others
Field Research Sites
Types of Field Research Sites
i.e. Neighbourhood; retirement communities; small towns etc
Deviance or Criminal activities
i.e. Cults; drug addicts; Tattoo parlours; street gangs etc
i.e. Factory workers; Artists; Strippers; Social workers; taxi drivers etc
i.e. Playground; summer camps; school bands; etc
i.e. Airplane; Bar; social movement organisation; welfare offices etc
i.e. A&E; ICU; Support groups etc
Site Selection consideration
allows for previously unknown relations and events to be studied
practical considerations on the selection of sites/subjects for study
allows for a rich and multifaceted insights into the subjects
Assuming a Social Role
Access ladder Field researchers may be able to see and learn about only public, noncontroversial events in the beginning, but with time and effort, they can gain entry to more hidden, intimate, and controversial information.
3. Apply strategies
Continual process during the entire research to
increase level of trust, acces
Decide on disclosure.
Disclosure ranges on a continuum from totally covert research, in which no one in the field is aware that research is taking place, to totally open research, in which everyone knows the details of the research study.
It is best to disclose your research study to gatekeepers and members, but the extent and timing of disclosure is dependent on negotiations with them, your areas or levels of access, your social role, and your personal comfort level.
A technique in field research that attempts to make the people being studied feel more comfortable with the research process and to help them
accept the researcher’s presence
Attitude of strangeness
A field research technique in which researchers mentally adjust to “see” events in the field as if for the first time or as an outsider.
Focus and sample.
In the beginning of the field research, the researcher forms a general idea about the field site.
Once in the site, he can purposefully focus on specific research questions and topics. In contrast to survey research sampling,
field research sampling employs theoretical sampling that is guided by developing theory and sampling events
, individuals, contexts, and times.
For example, we can sample routine, special, and unanticipated events; different types of individuals from old and young, men and women, different locations; and different time.
Notice social breakdowns.
A social breakdown occurs when social rules and patterns of behaviour fail to operate in a field site as anticipated and reveals implicit social beliefs, values, and norms that can refine research questions and topics.
5. Gather and record data
Absorb and experience.
be attentive and perceptive.
about documenting observations, including own subjective experiences and insights.
Watch and listen.
Take notes as soon as possible (with date/time stamping, including emotional experiences).
Never substitute tape recordings completely for field notes
Record the data
physical surroundings, individuals, appearances and behaviours
age, gender, race, sitting/standing positions as individuals interact
1. Preparing for entry
Disengage from existing expectation
Observe a wide range of subjects/settings
Take a step back and be sensitive to unexpected variables.
Be aware that your
emotions/involvement can influence your observation
Ability to change perspectives and observe events from multiple viewpoints simultaneously
RQ should be broad (Not a fixed hypothesis)
Open to new direction and ideas
4. Maintaining Relations in the Field.
• Feign interest in and excitement with the activities and interest of the subjects
Appear less knowledgeable in order to learn more
about the field site
Build rapport and nurture trust to develop understanding and empathy
Adjust & Adapt
• Monitor how your attitude and behaviour affects others
• Should not rush to form close relationships too early
• Must be able to withdraw/detach from relationships as well
Undertake a neutral position between opposing sides(can be difficult to do)
Need to observe the situation from multiple viewpoints
6. Disengage and physically leave the setting.
Complete the analyses and write the research
The in-depth interview is also known as ethnographic, informal, open-ended, long, or unstructured interview and differs from the survey research interview in many ways
Features of questions
- may be in a group setting or as individual face-to-face
The begininng and the
end of in-depth interview is not clear.
Type of In-depth interview question
Initial questions should be descriptive.
Upon building rapport, questions may be more structural.
At the more advanced stages of the field study, researchers will apply contrast questions to analyse information gathered from structural questions.
2. Structural questions
More focused questions
to the topic of interest.
drawn from descriptive questions, gather details.
i.e. "What types of abused women are in the shelter?"
1. Descriptive questions
Broad, starter questions
to get participants comfortable
with the societal members and social setting
i.e. “Where is the shelter for abused women?”
3. Contrast questions
Focus on similarities and differences
between social categories and within social categories.
i.e. "Are there similarities in how a working-class woman and a middle-class woman confronts
Characteristics of an ideal informant
Very familiar with the culture
and is in a position to witness significant events
involved in the field
Able to enagge
in the interview process
Non-analytic informant uses native folk theory or pragmatic common sense,
instead of drawing analysis from education and/or the media
Interview different types of informant (subjects) for multiple
• Longstanding as well as new members
Those in the centre of activities and those on the periphery
Those who recently changed positions and those who are stagnant
Those who are leaders and those who are subordinate
Life history/biographical interview,
It facilitates the individual being interviewed in reconstructing their memories.
Recollecting and retelling one’s memories as a narrative form can be therapeutic for the individual and inspirational for the next generation.
Produces rich data on diverse subjects, e.g. development of self, process of socialization and life cycle.
Allows us to understand how the past is remembered subjectively, rather than rely on objective facts
prepares with background reading and contact the subject
conducts a series of interviews, audio- or video-recording them
gives respect, and show sincere interest in what the subject says
prepares a summary of each session
makes a verbatim transcription
reviews the whole transcript for clarity of meaning
let the subject review the transcirpt
Analysing and Reporting Qualitative Data
Analysis of Qualitative Data
Coding Qualitative Data
Stepps in Coding Qualitative Data
Open coding is the first coding of qualitative data that examines data and organise them into preliminary categories.
The researcher locates themes and assigns codes to organise data into categories.
Axial coding is the second coding of qualitative data during which the researcher organises the codes, relates them, and determines significant analytic categories.
Axial coding does not only stimulate analysis on the relations between categories, it also raises new questions. It can suggest disregarding some categories or examining others in depth.
Selective coding is the final coding of qualitative data that examines previous codes to identify and select data that support the analytic categories that were developed.
How to identify themes
Think in terms of
Recognise data patterns
Have an in-depth background knowledge or tacit knowledge
Keep codes fixed and
Treat coding as a
Staying at descriptive level only
Codes have five parts
A description of how to recognise the code in the data
Any exclusions or
A definition with a main characteristic
A label comprises a
word or phrase
Analytic memo writing
The analytic memo writing is a specific type of note taking. Each coded concept or theme forms the basis of an individual memo
Outcropping is an aspect of qualitative data analysis that
recognises the empirical evidence
we gather represents theoretical ideas that lie beneath observable social reality.
Often, we cannot directly perceive abstract theoretical ideas in the social world, for example, the sociological concept of social class. However, we see its manifestations through individuals and their educational aspirations, career choices, and material possessions. We analyse data on both the surface level of reality and the deeper level of social structures and relations to generate and/or evaluate theoretical ideas.
Features and purposes
The well-presented report is usually the reason for continued research
it can be used to
in areas of
interest or concern in particular at-risk or marginalised populations
communication of research findings
Research Report address:
What was the research about?
How was it conducted?
What was discovered and what were the
Quantitative Research Report
Abstract of Executive Summary
Presentation of the Problem
Methods (i.e. type of study/research design)
Results and Tables
Qualitative Research Report
Most general aspects of situation
Details about the setting
Contrast between situation and other situations
Summary and Implications