>Conceptualizing Qualitative Research


Mobile Photo Sep 2, 2010 1 45 01 PM.jpg

In class, last night, we were asked to take what we learned about research study design and create a visual representation of what we determined to be the most important points. Brief explanation of that which isn’t clear:

  • The arrows point to the reflexive and reflective processes, which are ubiquitous in the research process. At any point, the researcher may change direction/methods/etc because of what they discover during these processes.
  • In reflecting on our drawing during presenting to the class, we added petals to the flower labeled “Data Collection.” Some example petals are questionnaires, interviews, videos, and surveys.

Through our conversations surrounding presentations of the visuals we created a number of questions were presented and answered about the research process and the language we use to describe it.

Reflection and reflexivity are processes where the researcher thinks about themselves and their relationship to the project as a whole. The purpose is to make sure the researcher is aware of his positionality and how that affects his research. The iterative process, however, is reflection that involves repeating processes (though not always in the same way). I see the iterative process kind of like this:


(From http://goo.gl/LhZG)

So we can conclude that research is very much not a linear process. I wanted to create a flowchart to make it more linear, but even that seemed way too complicated. So I guess I’ll stick with the flowers.

Qualitative research is contextually bound. There is no guarantee that the results will be transferrable to other situations, but the theories that come out of the research should be patterns that are applicable to observations in other places. That is what makes qualitative research transformable.

As researchers, we have to get to the point where we understand (and practice) the idea that absolutely everything we do is intentional. Because we have to justify more than quantitative researchers do, we have to be able to explain to people why we made the choices that we made. Every choice or occurrence (e.g. people not returning permission forms) affects the outcome of the study. As researchers, we have to be very aware, and make a point to talk about, the limitations of the study due to these choices or other things that happen through the course of the study.

One of my tasks following this posting is to go back and look at the article I read last week on bullying and examine at it more critically in terms of what we decided was important.


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