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Professor Marohaini

8th December 2009
Title : Ensuring Quality in Qualitative Research : Where do we start?
Download: Ensuring Quality in Qualitative Research : Where do we start?.doc

Over the last ten years, researchers in the social sciences have opened up to qualitative research – doing fieldwork that involved observation, interviewing as well as document analysis to understand more fully the phenomena from the perspective of the participants and their world of experience. While this development is very encouraging, there is still some confusion among researchers regarding the planning and implementation of qualitative research. This confusion affects the quality of the work and results in findings and reports that are, on the surface, superficial and possibly inaccurate. There are still many researchers that plan and implement qualitative research using a quantitative framework or an adaptation of one. This practice compromises not just the process but also the findings. With this in mind, how then do we ensure robust quality and integrity when conducting qualitative research? In this presentation, misconceptions and malpractices of qualitative research will be shared along with some strategies and suggestions to ensure quality in qualitative research.

Dr Simon C Kitto

8th December 2009
Title : Issues of Quality in Qualitative Research
Download: Issues of Quality in Qualitative Research.doc

Currently the dimensions of qualitative research are very broad in terms of design, varying from ethnography at one end of the spectrum to grounded theory and evaluation at the other. These dimensions mean that Groups focusing on different kinds of research have developed different expectations as to what rigour might look like from intuitive and flexible to precise and completely transparent. This address will explore current debates of rigour and quality with regard to qualitative research. In particular, a case study of challenges to quality and rigour in doing qualitative research in medicine will be explored from the viewpoint of a medical sociologist, working within a Department of Surgery as a qualitative research specialist.

Professor Alma Whiteley

9th December 2009
Title : Grounded Theory
Download: Grounded Theory.doc

Before Grounded Theory (Glaser and Strauss 1978) there was an ontology (that is nature of being) of realism, epistemology (that is nature of knowledge) of empirical (observable and measurable) research and methodology that was quantitative in nature. The benefits included being objective, parsimonious, efficient valid and reliable. It was scientific but not social in nature. However we are social beings. Pioneering researchers proposed that meaning was first produced in social interactions then attached to symbols within a particular context. Importantly, people acted upon this constructed meaning. Symbolic Interaction theory (Mead 1963, orig. 1934) paved the way for researchers to develop a companion to quantitative methodology. Here, the ontology was constructivist, the epistemology interpretive and the methodology qualitative. How can you tell which to select? When you know the issues (in a meaningful way) as being factual then you need to choose a quantitative methodology. If you do not know the issues (such as why is morale low, absenteeism and lateness high?) then you need to a select qualitative methodology. Grounded theory now comes into play. The term means ‘theory of respondents’. A set of systematic procedures, each with its own rigour criteria, allow meaning to emerge from respondents. Data are collected in interaction with the researcher. They are recorded and transcribed. Words and phrases of respondents are coded and categorised and constantly compared to each other as the data evolve. A key to grounded theory is to let respondents ‘have a voice’ and the researcher faithfully follows the concept of emergence.

Dr. Sharan B. Merriam

9th December 2009
Title : Validity and Reliability: Strategies for Promoting Quality
Download: Validity and Reliability: Strategies for Promoting Quality.doc

Validity and reliability in qualitative research are often troublesome concepts even for more experienced researchers. However, the quality of one’s research is directly tied to the rigor with which one has conducted a study and insured for validity and reliability. Internal validity or credibility has to do with how congruent one’s findings are with reality. Reliability or consistency has to do with whether one’s findings are consistent with the data collected. Finally, external validity or transferability speaks to how the findings of one’s study can be applied to other situations. This presentation will first review how to think about these concepts in qualitative research. Second, strategies researchers can employ to promote quality and thus trustworthiness in qualitative research will be reviewed using examples from actual research studies. Strategies to be reviewed include peer review, member checking, triangulation, research reflexivity, audit trail, and maximum variation.