QUALITATIVE RESEARCH METHODS
- 1. Data Generation Techniques in Qualitative Research
In dealing with any real life problems problem, it is often found that data at hand are inadequate and hence it becomes unnecessary to collect data that are inappropriate. There are several ways of collecting the appropriate data which differ considerably in context of money costs, time and other resources at the disposal of the researcher.
Primarily data can be generated through experiment or survey. Qualitative research is concerned with qualitative phenomena that are phenomena relating to or involving quality or kind.
Data can be generated by any one o more of the following ways:-
a) Through telephone interview: – this method of generating or collecting information involves contacting the respondents on telephone itself. This is not a very widely used methods but it plays an important role in industrial surveys in developed regions. Particularly when the survey has to be accomplished in a very limited time.
b) Through schedules: – under this method, the enumerators are appointed and given training. They are provides with schedules containing relevant questions. These enumerators go to respondents with these schedules. Data are collected by filling up schedules by enumerators on the basis of replies given by respondents. Much depends upon the capability of enumerators so far as this method is concerned. Some occasional field checks on the work of the enumerators may ensure sincere work.
c) By mailing of questionnaires: – The Researcher and respondents do come in contact with each other if this methods of colleting data is adopted. Questionnaires are mailed to the respondents with a request to return after completing the same. It is the most extensively used method in various economic and business surveys. Before applying this method usually a pilot study for testing the questionnaire is conducted which reveals the weakness in any of the questionnaires. The questionnaire to the used must be prepared carefully so that it may prove to the effective in collecting the relevant information.
d) By Observation:– This method entails the collection or generation of information by way of investigator’s own observation without interviewing the respondents . the information obtained relates to what is currently and is not complicated by either or the past before or future intentions or attitudes of the respondents. This method is no doubt an expensive method and the information provided by this method is limited. As such as this method is not suitable in inequities where large samples are concerned.
e) Through Personal Interviews:– The investigators follows a rigid procedure and seeks answers to a set of pre-conceived questions through personal interviews. This method of collecting or generating data is usually carried out in a structured way where output depends upon ability of the interviews to large extent.
Qualitative research also aims at discovering the underlying motives and desires using in depth interviews for the purpose. Other techniques for qualitative research are word association tests sentence completion tests, story completion and other similar prospective techniques.
- 2. Ethical Consideration In Qualitative Research
Ethics has been defined as that branch of philosophy which deals with one conduct and serves as a guide to one’s behavior. Since researchers are people genuinely concerned about other people; quality of life, they must be people of integrity who will not undertake research for personal gain or research that might have a negative effective on others.
Other reason for being completely ethical is that there are laws which prohibit unethical behavior and researchers could be faced with extremely humiliating situations if such laws are ignored.
a) Confidentiality and privacy respondents should be protected by keeping the information given confidential especially if confidentiality has been promised. In some cases, the respondents may be not that concerned about confidentiality but their consent must be sought before revealing any information lack of confidentiality and mishandling the information provided may cause respondents physical or even psychological harm for example releasing names of people who are bankrupt may stigmatize them and cause them to loose credit facilities which could be disadvantageous to them.
b) Physical and psychological harm:-A Researcher should never undertake research that may cause physical or psychological harm. A researcher should do all the preliminary tests and obtain all the background information in an effect to avoid imparting any arm to subjects. In social science research, psychological harm is more likely to occur than physical harm. Psychological harm can be caused by asking embarrassing questions, expressing shock or disgust while collecting data using threatening statements or completing people to say something that they don’t believe in or causing fear and anxiety among respondents.
Any action or statement which lowers a subject’s self-esteem or self-worth is also considered unethical and should always be avoided. Another form of psychologically harmfully action may be to force respondents to recall unpleasant occurrences against their will thus creating discomfort and resentment
This refers to identify of individuals being protected either by suing numbers, could parties or pseudo names. A researcher could disclose information about a particular individual but protect the identity and privacy of that individual.
Anonymity therefore refers to a situation where a respondents name is not discussed. Sometimes fit is not always necessary to keep the names anonymous in the interests of follow up efforts and longititudinal studies. On the other hand when sensitive information is being sought for example details of sexual behavior. It may be wise to keep the respondent’s identify anonymous in order to get more honest responses.
When anonymity is required and yet there is need for follow-up, an individual code can be put on a questionnaire. The researcher is then able to link the code to the name in order to make a follow-up. Though this method is not completely anonymous, it may allay some fears on the part of respondents, the important thing is for the researcher to be honest if confidentiality and anonymity are promised then they must be assured.
d) Voluntary and informed consent: – The Researcher must confirm to the principle of the voluntary consent where respondent willingly participate in research… unethical behavior would occur if the researcher failed to describe the real purpose of the research fearing the subject’s refusal to participate.
For example it is unethical for a researcher to get people to participate in a piece of research regarding the unavailability of health services after the research. In social research, permission to undertake research from a participant may not be adequate. It is unethical to get permission from a subject if that permission is based on deception as regards the reasons for undertaking research or the intended use of research findings. A subject must be told the truth and be given all the facts about a research in order to make an informed decision about participation or not informed consent should be based on information regarding.
- The purpose of the research study
- Any foreseen risks
- A guarantee of anonymity and confidentiality.
- Identification of the researcher
- An indication of the number of subjects involved.
- Benefits and compensation or lack of them.
e) Use of vulnerable and/or special populations. It is considered extremely unethical if populations which are disadvantaged in one way or another are used without their consent or the consent of a guardian. Such special populations include children, mentally disabled people, sick people, the poor and others with special needs like street children. Permission from those who care for these special populations must be thought and must be based on the principle of informed consent.
f) Financial consideration and sponsored research. In some cases, a sponsor of a particular research may demand some compromises on quality of research to save money or time. In other cases, some unprofessional sponsors of research may demand that findings be reported in a distorted manner for their own selfish reasons. A lot of researchers have fallen prey to such sponsors because of money and consideration of promotion. An ethical researcher should never accept such compromise in order to protect his or her integrity. Another aspect of finances that result in unethical conduct is when researchers divert research funds for other purposes. This affects the quantity of research and may also yield misleading data. A good researcher should derive satisfaction from a good piece of research done honestly and legally.
g) Dissemination of findings: – it is unethical to conceal research findings after completion of research. Some researchers may decide not to reveal findings if they are contrary to their expectations or their sponsor’s expectations. For example a researcher may fail to reveal research findings if they are likely to affect certain policies negatively or an institution may want to keep the results if such results are likely to bring about protests. If findings are sensitive, modalities of releasing them should be agreed upon rather than shelving the findings completely. In addition to being unethical, it is a waste of resources (time, money and energy) to undertake research only to conceal findings.
Other ethical issues are related to publication of research findings. Every researcher should be aware of intellectual property rights. For example if a research was done jointly by a team of researchers, it would be unethical for any participant then to publish the study as a personal effort without consulting the other team members. The issue of first and second authors should be thoroughly discussed so that everybody’s intellectual contribution is fairly recognized.
h) Academic freedom: – academic freedom is the existence of an open and unrestricted atmosphere for the free exchange of ideas and information. Academic freedom is very important in research because the researcher must be free to discuss and publish findings without fear of intimidations, loosing jobs or being victimized. Researchers should be sensitized about their rights to academic freedom and on issues of intellectual property.
In conclusion, qualitative research is a type of research designed to find out how people feel or what they think about a particular subject or institution. This research is equally important in behavioural sciences where the aim is to discover the underlying motives of human behaviour. Through this research many factors can be analyzed that motivate people to behave in a particular manner or which make people like or dislike a particular thing.
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