Ch. 14-2 - Chapter 14 Quantitative researchers specify a...

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Chapter 14 Quantitative researchers specify a research design before collecting even one piece of data, and rarely depart from that design once the study is underway: they design and then they do. In qualitative research, by contrast, the study design typically evolves during the project: qualitative researchers design as they do. Decisions about how best to obtain data, from whom to obtain data, and how long a data collection session should last are made as the study unfolds. THE DESIGN OF QUALITATIVE STUDIES Qualitative studies use an emergent design that evolves as researchers make ongoing decisions based on what they have already learned. An emergent design in qualitative studies is a reflection of the researchers’ desire to have the inquiry based on the realities and viewpoints of those under study— realities and viewpoints that are not known at the outset. Characteristics of Qualitative Research Design Qualitative inquiry has been guided by different disciplines, and each has developed methods for addressing questions of interest. Some characteristics of qualitative research design tend to apply across disciplines, however. In general, qualitative design: Is flexible and elastic, capable of adjusting to what is being learned during data collection Often involves merging together various data collection strategies (i.e., triangulation) Tends to be holistic, striving for an understanding of the whole Requires researchers to become intensely involved and can necessitate a lengthy period of time Benefits from ongoing data analysis to guide subsequent strategies and decisions about when data collection is done. Although design decisions are not finalized in advance, qualitative researchers typically do advance planning that supports their flexibility. That is, they plan for broad contingencies that may pose decision opportunities once the study has begun. For example, qualitative researchers make advance decisions with regard to their research tradition, the study site, the maximum amount of time available for the study, a broad data collection strategy, and the equipment they will need in the field. Qualitative researchers plan for a variety of circumstances, but decisions about how to deal with them must be resolved when the social context of time, place, and human interactions are better understood. Qualitative Design Features Some of the design features discussed in Chapter 9 apply to qualitative studies. However, qualitative design features are often posthoc characterizations of what happened in the field rather than features specifically planned in advance. To contrast qualitative and quantitative research design, we consider the design elements identified in Table 9.1 on page 150.
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