Qualitative Research: Designing, Implementing, and Publishing a Study

Qualitative Research: Designing, Implementing, and Publishing a Study

Sharan B. Merriam (University of Georgia, USA)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-7409-7.ch007
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Abstract

This chapter takes the reader on a step-by-step journey through the process of conducting a qualitative research study using research conducted with Traditional Healers (THs) in Malaysia and how they diagnose and treat cancer. Upwards of 80% of Malaysians consult traditional healers before seeing a medical doctor, resulting in late-stage diagnoses and thus higher mortality rates. However, prior to our research, little was known about the role of healers and their willingness to work with, rather than outside, the Western medical system. Within this context, the theoretical framework, the specific research problem and the research questions were identified. Next, the author discusses purposive sampling and data collection strategies, which included interviews, documents, and observations. She then presents a data analysis exhibit showing how they captured specific data from the interviews to address the research questions. Finally, the author discusses writing and publishing the results of the research.
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Defining The Research “Problem”

All research starts with a question. We wonder about something, why it is the way it is, what it is, the extent to which a particular phenomenon is unique or widespread, and so on. So too, with qualitative research. Only we don’t wonder about how many, or how a particular characteristic is distributed among a group of people, or which intervention brings about a certain reaction. These are all questions for survey or experimental designs or what are loosely grouped under the term “quantitative.” This type of research draws from a more positivist worldview in which reality is assumed to be stable and measurable; prediction, control, and hypothesis testing are key. In contrast, the questions that drive qualitative research are about the nature of the phenomenon, the meaning or understanding people construct regarding some phenomenon. Thus qualitative research draws most heavily from a constructivist worldview where what is important is how people construct the meaning or understanding of a phenomenon. Discovery, description, meaning and understanding, not how many, are important. Qualitative research can build hypotheses, that is a qualitative study may conclude with tentative hypotheses; however, when it comes to testing these same hypotheses you have crossed into the quantitative paradigm.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Writing Up Qualitative Research: The written report of a qualitative study presents “findings” that are responsive to the research questions posed by the inquiry. Direct quotes from interviews and field notes and selections from documents, pictures or other artifacts from which the findings were derived are presented as evidence for the findings.

Qualitative Data Analysis: An inductive, comparative strategy used across the data set for building themes or categories that are responsive to the questions guiding the inquiry.

Qualitative Research: Systematic inquiry into understanding the meaning, not the frequency, that people or groups ascribe to phenomenon and experiences in the social world.

Malay Traditional Healers: Local healers in Malaysia who use handed down traditional methods including herbs, plants, roots, and Islamic prayers for diagnosing and treating patients.

Qualitative Data Collection: Includes interviewing individuals or groups most knowledgeable about the topic of investigation, observations of behavior and activities of individuals and research sites, and collection and examination of public and private documents and artifacts.

Qualitative Problem Statement: Identifies the issue, “problem” or gap in the knowledge base to be investigated using qualitative, discovery-oriented data collection and analysis methods.

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