Você está na página 1de 12


SW 802: Using Qualitative Methods

Journal Comparison and Critique

Dr. Robin Goldberg-Glen

Widener University

Submitted by Sheronda-Rae Ball

April 15, 2011



The three articles that I chose to compare and critique are “ ‘Like

a Prison!’: Homeless Women’s Narratives of Surviving Shelter” by

Sarah L. DeWard, “When African American Teen Girls’ Friends Are

Murdered: A Qualitative Study of Bereavement, Coping, and

Psychosocial Consequences” by Celeste M. Johnson, and “Life History

and Narrative Analysis: Feminist Methodologies Contextualizing Black

Women’s Experiences with Severe Mental Illness” by Marya R. Sosluski.

The qualitative methods of inquiry used are field observation/narrative,

grounded theory, and life story respectively.

The DeWard article uses 20 semi-structured interviews and three

months of field observation to collect data on homelessness and

survival at a shelter in a Midwestern city in the United States.

Occurrences at the homeless shelter, given the name The Refuge, a

pseudonym, were recorded. DeWard utilized Goffman’s conceptual

framework of total institution as the guide to analyze the data that was

collected. Through qualitative data collection, DeWard found that

there were three types of residents at the shelter – submitters,

adapters, and resisters. Each category contained members that

supported the conceptual framework of total institution.

African-American teenage girls who have experienced the

homicide and loss of a loved one were the foci of the qualitative study

set forth by Johnson. Guided by grounded theory, Johnson analyzed


the semi-structured interviews of 21 African-American girls between

the ages of 16 and 19 who resided in northeastern city in the United

States. The theoretical frameworks used to guide Johnson’s research

were the biopsychosocial approach, object relations, and the out-of-

time factor. Implications for social work practice based on the findings

of the research were detailed in the conclusion of the article.

The third article that will be used for comparison and contrast is

by Sosulski and pertains to the process from diagnosis through

treatment of African-American women with severe mental illness.

Feminist narrative analysis and life history techniques were used to

collect the qualitative data. The author provides the findings of her

research and outlines the implications of the data in social work

practice and policy for treatment of African-American women with

chronic mental illness.

Journal Article Title Analysis

In the tradition of qualitative study, the title of an article often

reflects the nature in which the data was collected. The titles of the

DeWard, Johnson, Sosluski articles all indicate that the data was

collected qualitatively. For example, DeWard informs readers that her

research is derived primarily through information gathered through

narratives. Similarly, Sosluski clearly states the methods of inquiry

used to collect data were life history and narrative analysis. Although

Johnson informs readers that the nature of study is qualitative, she


does not indicate the selected variation of qualitative study, which is

grounded theory. As a reader, I am interested in understanding

experiences first-hand, as it is very beneficial to discover the thoughts

and process of the individual involved in a particular phenomenon from

their perspective. Narrative inquiry provides a first-hand telling of a

situation in a “real-world setting” (Yin, 2011, p. 17). I was drawn to

select these articles based on the clear understanding of the method

through the data was collected.

Each journal article title clearly informs the reader about the

subject matter being covered. By simply reading the title of the

DeWard article, the reader has a clear understanding that the

information provided is about homeless women’s experience at a

shelter. Furthermore, the reader is able to gather that the

experiences shared by residents at the shelter will be less than

flattering since the statement “like a prison” leads the title. The

Sosulski article clearly indicates the qualitative technique used for

gathering the data; however, it is important to note that out of all

titles, the Sosulski article title (“Life History and Narrative Analysis:

Feminist Methodologies Contextualizing Black Women’s Experiences

with Severe Mental Illness”) uses the most jargon. The excessive use

of jargon may deter potential readers who are not well versed in

qualitative data analysis.

Journal Article Abstract Analysis


Each article has a well-written and concise abstract. Out of the

three articles used for the comparison and contrast, I found the

abstract in the Johnson article to be the most purposeful and

informative. The reader of the abstract will be clear on the fact that

the qualitative study pertains to analysis of semi-structured interviews

with 21 African-American teens. The abstract also indicates that the

research was conducted using grounded theory and identifies three

classifications of teens that participated in the study. The reader

would be able to describe the purpose of the qualitative study.

Although the Sosulski abstract provides a lot of information and facts,

it is very jargon-laden and does not specifically describe the focus of

the research.

Journal Article Introduction Analysis

Out of three articles that were read for compare and contrast, on

the Johnson article has a formal introduction section. This introduction,

subtitled “Implications for Practice” (Johnson, 2010, p. 364) gives the

reader clearly specified goals of the research in addition to the manner

in which data was collected. It was unclear whether or not the abstract

was to serve as the introduction as well or if the beginning of the

literature review was to be the introduction in the other articles. The

Sosulski article does not give a concrete nor concise synapsis of the

manner in which data will be collected. The abstract/introduction does

indicate that the findings uncovered “the need for rigorous, culturally

appropriate methods and further research…” (Sosulski, Buchanan, and

Donnell, 2010, p. 29). It is a bit cloudy as to how they came to these

findings based on the initial information provided. Similarly, the

DeWard article does not provide a clear introduction; unlike the

Sosulski article, the outline of the purpose of the research and manner

in which the data was collected is provided in the abstract.

Journal Article Literature Review Analysis

Each of three journal articles used for the comparison and

contrast provide sound literature reviews that sufficiently support the

need for research in each of the targeted areas. The literature review

provided in the DeWard article is short and to the point. The

information defines the problem of homelessness among women in the

United States and illustrates unique issues in regards to the target

populations versus other populations. Additionally, the theoretical

framework used is explained in detail. Similarly, the Johnson article

provides a condensed literature review that gets right to the point of

the issue that is researched.

Contrastingly, the Sosulski article has an extended literature

review that is sometimes confusing and difficult to follow. The author

attempts to not only provide information regarding Black women and

mental illness, but feels the need to define life history analysis as well

as the feminist perspective. Although backgrounds on these concepts

are needed in order to understand the author’s perspective, it could


have been done in a clearer manner that the reader could easily follow

and comprehend.

Journal Article Methods Section Analysis

The methods section of the Johnson article clearly states that 21

African-American teens were interviewed and the manner in which

they were interviewed. The selection process was defined, as well as

the breakdown of the ages of those involved. The data collection

method as well as the manner of data analysis was provided.

Participants’ responses would be coded and a qualitative data analysis

software program would be sued to further analyze the responses.

Johnson also described the ethical considerations she faced when

formulating this research project. Parental consents and participant

assents were signed in order to ensure that those involved, as well as

their parents, knew the intent and manner of the study. Johnson

informs the reader that the project was approved and reviewed by the

Institutional Review Board (IRB) and that participants were

compensated 15 dollars and given certificates of appreciation and

thank you notes.

The Sosulski article provides extensive information about the life

history technique of data collection. The research question is stated,

although it is a complicated question and very “wordy”. Sosulski does

an excellent job of describing the interviewing techniques used in data

collection. The participants signed consent forms and were


compensated 10 dollars an hour. One thing that Sosulski does that the

other authors do not was making available the expertise of the team

that collected the data and analyzed the data.

The DeWard article offers background information on the shelter

that participated in the research project. Additionally, the author

states the number of participants as well as the manner in which the

data was collected, which was through semi-structured interviews and

field observation. The author does not talk about consent,

compensation for the participants, or any of the ethical considerations

involved in the project.

Journal Article Data Analysis and Findings

The findings of the DeWard article are listed in the context of the

conclusion section and the section preceding it that is entitled

“Surviving the Shelter as a Total Institution” (DeWard, 2010 p. 122).

Excerpts from the semi-structured interviews are used to support the

conceptual framework of the paper, which is the concept of “total

institution”. The author notes the three subcategories of women that

emerge as a result of the data analysis – submitters, adapters, and

resisters – and each category is described in detail

The narrative and language of the primary subject of the Sosulski

project is used to depict the experience of mental illness. The story of

“Maria” is told in the subject’s own words. The authors used the

verbiage of the subject to convey to the reader Black women’s


experience with mental illness. Throughout the narrative, the authors

provide the readers with background and conceptual information about

the data gathering process of life story. This information can be

utilized as a guide to better understand the authors’ findings.

The findings of the Johnson article are clearly laid out and can be

easily read and understood. Through data analysis, three categories

emerge – the mourning process of the subjects, the coping

mechanisms that are used by the subjects, and the psychosocial

consequences that they face (Johnson, 2010, pp. 366-368). Johnson

explains each category and compares it to her theoretical framework

that pertains to ways in which the death of a friend or loved one affects

African-American teens specifically.

Journal Article Discussion and Conclusion Analysis

Each article provides an in-depth discussion on the analysis of

the data. Additionally and most importantly, each article provides

implications for social work practice and policy, as well as the

limitations of each study. It is vital for researchers to justify the

rationale of their projects, allowing for other professionals to learn from

their data and data analysis. Each author went back to the basis of

their research projects, including the guiding qualitative technique and

explanation of the theoretical framework used in the articles. The

conclusions closed each article so that there would be no question

about the research methods and findings of the article.


Each set of references provided the reader with additional

resources on the topics presented by the authors. The various articles

and books are outline according to APA style. Additionally, each article

has an eclectic mix of books and magazine articles that have shaped

their research methods and conceptual and theoretical frameworks.

Overall Assessment

In my opinion, I found the Johnson article about African-American

girls and homicide to be the most well written, concise, and clear

article out of the three articles that I analyzed for this assignment.

This article can be easily understood by professionals as well as non-

professionals who may have be interested in and affected by the

research presented. I believe that far too often social workers write for

themselves and other social workers; the data that we collect affect

greater society and should be able to be translated to the masses, not

laden with jargon and terms that only clinicians and academicians can


In terms of a qualitative research method, I found that DeWard’s

inclusion of the actual interviews of the residents of the homeless

shelter to be very enlightening. The opportunity was given to the

readers to interpret the responses of the women who were interviewed

and see firsthand how the author devised the conclusions. I will be

inclined to use this method when conducting my own qualitative


I would recommend each article that was analyzed for this

assignment based on the content provided as well as the manner in

which the research was conducted and presented. I was very

enlightened by the three different styles and was able to take from

each article various lessons of how I would like to present my own

research project for academic purposes as well as publication. Most

importantly, I have learned how crucial it is to clearly state the

implications that my research will have on social work practice and



DeWard, S. L., & Moe, A. M. (2010). “Like a prison!” Homeless women’s

narratives of
surviving shelter. Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare, 115-

Johnson, C. M. (2010). When African American teen girls’ friends are

murdered: A
qualitative study of bereavement, coping, and psychosocial
consequences. Families in Society, 264-370.

Sosulski, M. R., Buchanan, N. T., & Donell, C. M. (2010). Life history and
analysis: Feminist methodologies contextualizing Black Women’s
experiences with severe mental illness. Journal of Sociology &
Social Welfare, XXXVII(3), 29-57,

Yin, R. K. (2011). Qualitative research from start to finish. New York:

ISBN: 978-1-60623-701-4