Grounded theory, phenomenology and ethnography are three approaches used in qualitative research. Grounded theory approach is a commonly used qualitative method in the social sciences to inductively generate or discover a theory out of the data.
One of the major strengths of qualitative research is its emphasis upon understanding the phenomenon of interest holistically and in its context. The term phenomenology is popular and widely embraced, but its meaning has become confusing and faint. Different researchers refer to phenomenology differently.
It can refer to an inquiry paradigm, an interpretive theory, a philosophy, an analytical perspective, a major qualitative research tradition or a research method framework. In spite of the differences, all of these approaches share the focus of phenomenology, which is exploring how human beings make sense of experience and the meaning they give to these experiences.
Phenomenology is being used in the social and human sciences including sociology, education, psychology, nursing and health sciences. Phenomenologists are interested in how people put together the phenomena they experience in such a way as to make sense of the world and develop a worldview.
They assume commonality in human experience and focus on meaning-making as the essence of human experience. The essence is the core meaning mutually understood through a phenomenon commonly experienced. It means that the researcher has to set aside all of his prejudgments and his previous experience about the phenomena and approach the field with an open mind, imagination and intuition.
Although important, bracketing is often said to be a difficult task. Patton 12 describes the difference between conducting a phenomenological study and using a phenomenological perspective to a study. In ethnography, the researcher studies the structure and function of a group of people. An example of a structure or configuration is the kinship, while the function refers to patterns of relationships affecting and regulating behaviour.
These aspects could be the group history, religion, economy, politics or environment. Data collection methods vary in ethnographic studies with observation and interviews being the most popular methods. Although some authors expressed concern that anthropological methods may be misused or applied superficially by the medical profession, 19 others, however, expressed the need for acknowledging and incorporating ethnographic methods in health care research. In health care, ethnography has been used in topics related to health beliefs and practices, allowing these issues to be viewed in the context in which they occur and therefore helping broaden the understanding of behaviours related to health and illness.
In addition, there has been an increase in the amount of cross-cultural research and a change in the form of this research. Recently, more short-term ethnographic and cross-cultural studies have been undertaken, for example, studies sponsored by international development agencies or student exchange projects. Qualitative research instruments used for data collection include interviews, observations, and analysis of documents. Interviews are the most common techniques used to gather research information.
There are three types of interviews: The semi-structured interview is more commonly used in health care-related qualitative research. Such an interview is characteristically based on a flexible topic guide that provides a loose structure of open-ended questions to explore experiences and attitudes.
It has the advantage of great flexibility, enabling the researcher to enter new areas and produce richer data. In addition, it helps the researcher to develop a rapport with the informants. In health care, interviews are the appropriate tool to be used if the research is concerned with interpersonal aspects of care or if the available evidence is limited. Another qualitative research instrument that can be used in health care research is the focus group. Focus group interviews have the advantage of being more time efficient as more people can be interviewed for the same amount of time.
They also provide a richer source of data. In addition some people do not interview well in-group situations. Some qualitative researchers are reluctant to plan a design of their study in advance of the data collection. They argue that the phenomenon studied must first be discovered and they describe their design as emergent. However, increasingly more qualitative researchers appear ready to define a research question and develop an interview guide prior to starting the data collection.
The findings of earlier work are increasingly being used as a facilitator for further research. However, concepts drawn from earlier work are supposed to be held lightly and to be subject to reformulation or rejection by the researcher especially as the study goes on and the research progresses.
Sampling strategies in qualitative research are largely determined by the purpose of the study. Statistical representativeness is not considered as a prime requirement in qualitative research and is not normally sought. Furthermore, qualitative data collection is more time consuming and expensive, which makes the use of a probability sample impractical. In this way, identified informants are expected to enable enriched exploration of attitudes and aspects of behaviour relevant to the research.
According to Patton, 12 maximum variation sampling is where the researcher attempts to study a phenomenon by seeking out settings or persons that represent the greatest differences in that phenomenon. A maximum variation sample documents diverse variations and identifies important common patterns by representing diverse cases to develop fully multiple perspectives about the cases.
Similarly, the researcher can select the setting of the data collection on the basis that it is sufficiently similar to other settings in which generalisation is sought.
This way the researcher is demonstrating the possibility that the setting studied is representative of the population studied. In homogeneous sampling, the researcher chooses a small homogenous sample with the purpose of describing some particular subgroups in depth.
The sample size in qualitative research is not determined by fixed rules, but by factors such as the depth and duration of the interview and what is feasible for a single interviewer.
In other words, sample size depends on the aim of the study and what is possible, given the time and resources available. Although there are plenty of guidelines for analysing qualitative research, applying these guidelines requires judgment and creativity because each qualitative study is unique. Analysis might be described as interpretation, making sense of data, or transforming data.
A common approach in most of these studies is general and inductive in nature, but does not comply with the very systematic and rigorous inductive approach of grounded theory. In addition, it has been described that many researchers use a simple two-level analysis scheme followed by a more specific level. This means that the researcher can initiate the analysis based on the conceptual framework used in order to produce more inductive data, and the coding moves from the descriptive to the more interpretative and inferential codes.
Qualitative research studies typically produce very large amount of data that needs to be managed efficiently. Computer packages can improve the efficiency of data management.
The use of computer packages, however, is claimed to distance the analyst from the data, 11 and may take the place of a close and careful analysis. Using a computer programme can lead to quantitative analysis instead of qualitative, for example, counting occurrences, giving more weight to more frequent events, and ignoring isolated incidences. The researcher also has to be aware of the limitations of computer programmes. Ethnograph, Atlas and NUD. IST are the mostly used. IST and is user-friendlier, more suitable for individual research projects and more visually attractive than previous packages.
Qualitative methods depend on both critical and creative thinking and the balance between the two in conducting the study and interpreting its results. The role of the researcher is approached differently according to the type of research tradition used. On the other hand, in an ethnographic study, the effect of the researcher on the interview and the interaction is seen as inevitable and important in shaping the results of the study. Although practising clinicians routinely interview patients during their clinical work, interviewing is a well-established technique in sociology and related disciplines.
One of the differences between clinical and research-aimed interviews lies in their different purposes. A good level of self-awareness is necessary in the researcher in order to reduce possible biases. Researchers in qualitative research need to consider how they are perceived by interviewees and the effect of features related to the researcher, such as class, race, and sex on the interview.
This question is more important if the interviewee knows that the interviewer is a doctor. It has been described that a patient, or someone who is likely to be become one, may give what he or she thinks is a desirable response, thinking that the doctor will be pleased.
Health field research is generally quantitative and based on biomedical traditions and experimental methods. In this field, qualitative research is criticized for being subject to researcher bias and for lacking reproducibility and generalisability. Many qualitative researchers neglect the importance of giving an adequate description of their theoretical concepts and methods used in their research.
A systematic research method is also essential when conducting qualitative research. Rigour in qualitative research includes procedures taken at different stages of the research process including during data collection and analysis. Several procedures have been described to increase rigour in qualitative research. For example, triangulation is commonly used as a way of validating of data. In triangulation, the researcher uses multiple methods, sources, researchers or theories to provide evidence that strengthens his or her study.
Triangulation provides different ways of looking at the same phenomenon and adds credibility and confidence in the conclusions drawn from the study. There are two main types of triangulation, triangulation of sources and analyst triangulation. When using this type of triangulation, the researcher compares the perspectives of people from different points of view.
For example, studies in programme evaluation might compare the views of staff, clients or funding bodies. Triangulation with multiple analysts can also be used as a method of verification. Recently, there has been a greater acceptance of the qualitative approach, even as a stand-alone method, in health care research. Institutions that control funding for medical research have developed ethical guidelines for assessing qualitative studies which indicates formal acceptance of this form of research within an area previously dominated by quantitative methods.
Quality of health care is one of the areas where qualitative methods can be used. The concept of quality in health care is multidimensional and multifaceted and some of the questions asked related to the quality of care or services may not be acquiescent to quantitative methods. It can also be used to identify and detect obstacles to change and the reasons why improvement does not occur.
In addition, qualitative description can be a prerequisite of quantitative research, particularly in areas that have received little previous investigation. Qualitative research is widely used to study issues related to doctor-patient interaction especially in general practice. Another area where qualitative research is being used in health care is to identify obstacles and barriers to practice change by exploring the reasons behind certain behaviours.
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About this journal. Qualitative Research (QRJ) is a bimonthly peer reviewed journal that publishes original research and review articles on the methodological diversity and multi-disciplinary focus of qualitative research. The journal is edited by Bella Dicks, Karen Henwood, William Housley and Book Reviews Editor Robin Smith.
Qualitative Market Research: An International Journal The Qualitative Report (Nova Southeastern University--School of Social and Systemic Studies) [online] Qualitative Research.
The Qualitative Report Guide to Qualitative Research Journals Curated by Ronald J. Chenail. The Qualitative Report Guide to Qualitative Research Journals is a unique resource for researchers, scholars, and students to explore the world of professional, scholarly, . The Qualitative Report (ISSN ) is a peer-reviewed, on-line monthly journal devoted to writing and discussion of and about qualitative, critical, action, and collaborative inquiry and research.
A philosophical discussion of qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods research in social science Aha! “take on Me’s”: bridging the North sea with relational autoethnography. Nov 15, · Qualitative research articles: information for authors and peer reviewers. M Rowan and P Huston These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article. Uniform requirements for manuscripts submitted to biomedical journals. International Committee of Medical Journal Editors. CMAJ.