Nonquantitative Research: A Modern Primer

Nonquantitative Research: A Modern Primer

Copyright: © 2024 |Pages: 20
DOI: 10.4018/979-8-3693-1726-6.ch013
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In the field of qualitative – hermeneutic - social research there are a variety of different approaches and currents stemming from various philosophical and disciplinary traditions. However, most of the qualitative research styles share certain characteristics such as the research being very open in its approach to the researched subject. At the beginning of the research concerning the problem area, the researcher often chooses a broad thematic framework. During the research, work, focuses, modifications, and reorientations of interest may occur. Openness also means that the research process cannot be precisely planned or predicted in advance.
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As a doctoral student, the power of statistics and the clean lines of quantitative research appealed to me, but I fell in love with the richness and depth of qualitative research. -Brené Brown

Research is seeing what everybody else has seen and thinking what nobody else has thought. -Albert Szent-Györgyi



From the outset, the researcher enters science as others may into religion; one quickly learns that one has a mission of engaging in an endless quest. The researcher is a bearer of hope, for whom time should not matter, who vows poverty, forgetfulness and self-sacrifice to serve science better and not abuse it. Like predecessors, an idealist of modern times, a contemporary knight without cognitive fear and methodological reproach, one sets out to conquer knowledge while caressing, in the deepest secret of intimacy, the unspeakable hope of being invited to sit with dignity at the master's table. However, the key to the transition from the rectangular table to the round table is singular: it is partly due to the research writings forming the modest contribution to the construction of scientific accumulation, that is, the thesis, the article, the chapter or the volume.

The researcher is thus invited to ensure their initiatory passage into the world of adults by following a path in three phases: schooling, fieldwork, and analysis. Positive knowledge cannot be revealed either by the inexperienced eye of the layman or by the overly experienced eye of the bearer of academic prejudices; a necessary reformatting precedes and allows access to reality. Having decoded the lessons of a carefully concocted list of classics necessarily representative of the field, the researcher is invited to end their studies by compiling the handling of their intellectual collections in a theoretical or analytical report. This first step authorises the apprentice to approach reality in all the neutrality that the latter commands. Thus, with the reference points so patiently acquired, at the confines of the kingdom to which s/he owes everything, the researcher immerses him/herself in the object during the field phase. Once this has been concluded, exhausted but amazed, even stunned by the field's richness, the researcher must become the indescribable narrator (O'Sullivan, 2015).

One must clarify here that there is no question of playing the troubadour, of transforming reality into poems, and of going to sing the properties of the object in all the castles of the kingdom. On the contrary, it is about fully assuming the role of a scientific apprentice, transforming empirical data into theoretical analyses, and presenting the results in various forums for this purpose.

The qualitative method is justified when the research object is complex, multidimensional and historically situated (Legendre & Legendre, 2012). The generalisation of acquired knowledge meets these three criteria since it occurs outside the program (complexity), has two components (content and context), and its conceptual evolution is identifiable. In sum, the undeniable advantage of the qualitative method is that it can focus on the human experience as a whole. It allows us to preserve the complexity of the situations experienced. Looking at the taxonomy of the generalisation of the acquired as a conceptual frame during interviews, the qualitative method used is located between, on the one hand, the purely inductive studies without reference to a theory and, on the other hand, those which aim to analyse a phenomenon with pre-established concepts.

In addition to focusing on the content and context stipulated in the taxonomy, it is also important to examine social validity and support for generalising acquired knowledge during participation in the program and in a real context. In this regard, the point of view of facilitators and pivotal stakeholders is required to establish the importance given to the generalisation of acquired knowledge and what they do concretely to support it. This perspective is added to that of the participants who will apply their learning outside the program. This choice is also justified since it allows data triangulation between the participants' opinions and the means used by the program facilitators. In summary, the research centre focuses on the participants with a program that explores using the qualitative method. A quantitative approach would make it possible to describe how the facilitators and speakers accompanying the participants offered support promoting the generalisation of knowledge.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Exploration: One of the functions of scientific research is to search for information, explore facts and collect evidence and data.

Social Science Research: Academic scientific research is based on the systematic use of methods and specific procedures for obtaining information or revealing relationships between the variables of society. Therefore, scientific research aims to shed light on new data or verify old ones to increase or demonstrate knowledge.

Forecast: Prediction or extrapolation is the target of many scientific studies that monitor the temporal evolution of social phenomena or those that study the relationships between different factors of society and the extent of their influence on each other.

Scientific Knowledge: Scientific knowledge advances are built based on existing theories and previous studies, selecting theories by gathering and analysing data and evidence, then reformulating the theories based on new information and data; hence, knowledge accumulates, and science progresses.

Accumulation: Scientific research does not start from zero but benefits from what has been published in the academic field, bringing forth alternative or novel approaches or results or proving previous knowledge, increasing scientific knowledge and accumulating with each new research added to the scientific literature.

Causality: Causality is a complex issue within the social sciences, and it is necessary to verify a causal relationship and not just a correlation between two variables.

Control: Due to the nature of the research work and its ability to detect social patterns and predict based on data and group information in a precise scientific manner, control, mastery, and planning have become basic functions of scientific research.

Archiving: A function of scientific research is to create a database from which other researchers can benefit.

Diagnosis: Diagnosis is one of the most important functions of any scientific research because the characterisation of the population studied and the diagnosis of the phenomenon on which the research focuses is the first stage, perhaps even the most important of scientific research.

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