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Theory and Practice Distinguish between qualitative and quantitative data

Quantitative - used to extrapolate beyond sample tested (usually measured in numbers) Qualitative - rich data that is highly descriptive (usually some form of text generated by participant)

Explain strengths and limitations of a qualitative approach to research Strengths

Rich data Good for investigating complex situations (e.g. Phineas Gage, Genie) Tends to be more experimentally valid if the individual studied remains in their environment


Time-consuming Tons of data to deal with so analysis can be problematic Interpreting results can be affected by the experimenter - use reflexivity to minimize this

To what extent can findings be generalized from qualitative studies?

Representative generalization - Individual studied is not representative of the population Inferential generaliztion - because individual is rare and unique we cannot extrapolate the findings to the general population

Theoretical generalization - data may be used to generate a theory (inductive) or to confirm one (hypothetico-deductive)

Discuss ethical considerations in qualitative research

Informed consent (Genie) Protecting individuals from psychological and physical harm Anonymity and confidentiality must be maintained

Discuss sampling techniques appropriate to qualitative research

Purposive sampling Snowball sampling - less time and energy required Convenience sampling

Explain effects of participant expectations and researcher bias in qualitative research

Participants expectations - participant behaves in a way to please the researcher Researcher bias - beliefs affect interpretation of participant behavior

Explain the important of credibility in qualitative research

Credibility is related to internal validity and how well the data reflects the beliefs/opinions/meanings of the participants

Importance of peer-review Using other researchers' interpretations to validate conclusions

Explain the effect of triangulation on the credibility of qualitative research

Method triangulation - using different techniques to gather data - could be qualitative and quantitative (e.g. IAT and observation to investigate racial bias)

Data triangulation - use data gathered from various qualitative methods (e.g. interview and observation to investigate prejudice)

Researcher triangulation - use multiple researchers to agree on interpretations (Bandura did this)

Theory triangulation - use several theories to analyze the data Space triangulation - use more than one setting/culture Some researchers argue you can never have an accurate account because of the nature of subjective experience

Fielding & Fielding argue that the purest data and subsequent explanation arises from one method

Example - single malt whiskey is pure and tastes better than a blended whiskey

Explain reflexivity in qualitative research

Important that researcher is aware of his/her own beliefs so they do not affect the interpretation of behavior

Researcher must reflect on his/her own beliefs and attempt to separate them if they are not to affect the data

Willig's (2001) two forms of reflexivity Personal reflexivity - values, beliefs, experiences, political faction, socioeconomic class, personal interest in the results can influence the research both professionally and personally

Epistemological reflexivity - related to how data was gathered, limited understanding of a particular group of people can restrict the amount of data gathered

Interviews Evaluate semi-structured, focus group and narrative interviews Semi-structured Strengths

Good for collecting data on socially sensitive subjects (e.g. sexual preferences, views on racism) because it is one-on-one

Should be less biased by researcher's preconceptions Because it is an open-ended approach, participants can elaborate and clarify The theme is chosen in advance so non-relevant material is avoided


Data analysis is time-consuming One-on-one situation can be considered artificial which calls into question ecological validity

Focus Groups Strengths

Fast and convenient way to collect data from individuals concurrently Provides natural setting which can give ecological validity

Uncovers knowledge and experience about what, how and why they think about a particular topic through the register (vocabulary, metaphors, sentence structure) they use

Can reveal cultural values and group norms


Not always appropriate for a research question (e.g. sexual preferences or fetishes) Participants may not disclose all relevant information for fear of embarrassment or being judged

Conformity can confound the results Ethical issues in conducting focus groups in non-free environments like prisons and nursing homes (informed consent, no freedom to choose)

Narrative Interviews Strengths

Good at elucidating complexity of individual experience because it shows how humans construct meaning in their lives

Can be used for all kinds of people as it only requires everyday speech - education level


Tons of data to analyze which is time-consuming to transcribe and analyze

Discuss considerations involved before, during and after an interview

Explain how researchers use inductive content analysis on interview transcripts


Evaluate participant, non-participant, naturalistic, overt and covert observations

Participant Non-participant Naturalistic Overt Covert Discuss considerations involved in setting up and carrying out an observation

Discuss how researchers analyze data obtained in observational research

Case studies

Evaluate the use of case studies in research

Explain how a case study could be used to investigate a problem in an organization or group

Discuss the extent to which findings can be generalized from a single case study