Research Methods Qualitative research Session outline Introduction Definition Purpose Questions Design/Plan Issues 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Qualitative methods In-depth interviews Group interviews and focus groups Un/Participant observation Delphi technique Ethnography Definition qualitative methods ‘an array of interpretative techniques which seek to describe, decode, translate and otherwise come to terms with the meaning, not the frequency, of certain more or less naturally occurring phenomena in the social world ‘ (Van Maanen in Easterby-Smith, 1993:71) Preferences of qualitative researchers (Hammersley, 1992) • • qualitative data - words, images, rather than numbers naturally occurring data – e.g. observation (rather than experiment) meanings rather than behaviour - ‘attempting to document the world from the point of view of the people studied’ a rejection of natural science as a model a preference for induction ‘grounded theory’, rather than theory testing Qualitative Research No one definition, however main features include: A preference for qualitative data words, observations, images, rather than numbers Documenting the world from the point of view of the people studied Collection of ‘rich’, in-depth data, therefore qualitative research often small scale – eg. Case study Differs from quantitative research in epistemology, methodology, and the methods used Qualitative Research Design Researcher is the instrument of data collection Social Skills such as building rapport, listening, essential Selection of research respondents Access, role and ethical issues Analysis of data Qualitative research questions Not hypothesis testing, therefore more open and not pre-judging outcome Home and holiday behaviour differences: Northern lads in Ibiza Hotel managers attitudes towards environmental management Social meaning of holidays for young families Impacts of tourists on the local population Sustainable development priorities in tourism development strategies: an analysis of three UK National Parks Planning Qualitative Research 1 flexible research design research questions rather than hypotheses importance of research process and your position within that: access to the group gatekeepers and informers ethical issues - informed consent; anonymity, confidentiality, use/abuse of Planning qualitative research 2 analysis of qualitative data ongoing through data collection narrative rather than statistical description and theorising Issues to consider Doesn’t the researcher’s presence affect the behaviour of the people being researched? Don’t people simply lie when answering researcher’s questions? How do you know if what is true in one case study will be true in another? How do you know that the researcher isn’t biased, and just finding what they want to find? How can you be sure that qualitative research findings are true? 1. In-depth interview: what it is Usually conducted with a relatively small number of subjects Interview guided by a checklist of topics rather than a formal questionnaire Interviews often tape-recorded and verbatim transcript prepared Can take ½ hour and may extend over several hours; repeat interviews possible In-depth interviews Idea behind them & distinction from questionnaires Organising the interview (structure) Relationship with respondents Recording the interview Using the data Characteristics of good interviews Recognising Limitations Can be time consuming and expensive inefficient, biased, unpredictable… hard to pre-test difficult to standardise and replicate and then difficult to analyse So... We must devise strategies to minimise these problems and maximise the gain from their ability to offer a greater understanding of the complexities of social reality. The Underpinnings The challenge of interviewing is to unlock the perspective of every interviewee in a search for mutual understanding typically in the form of a friendly conversation. Questionnaire Surveys vs A little about a lot / many All respond to exactly the same questions Descriptive patterns Directive interviewer In-Depth Interviews A lot about a little / few Asked to respond to same topics in different ways Explore links between feelings, attitudes, behaviour Interviewer as guide Warning Interviewing is not as easy as it looks. It requires thought and careful planning. As two commentators recently noted, interviewing is ‘as easy as writing a book - most of us have basic literacy skills but few attain literary art’ (Powney and Watts in Robson, 1995: 228). Process to plan an interview Identify the objectives Decide whether to undertake individual or group interviews Determine the most appropriate structure - fully structured, semi-structured or unstructured (informal). Think about the implications of your choice prepare an interview schedule (if appropriate) pilot and refine the research instrument (if appropriate) keep a full record of the interview note the relevance to interviewees - sell the idea the ethical implications of your study How structured? Highly structured vs free form Clarity of purpose Standard wording abandoned in favour of flowing conversation Language of respondent Learn script, but be flexible Comparing types of interviews (adapted from Finn et al, 2001:75) Type of intervie w Advantages Disadvantages Structured Answers to same questions increase comparability Data easily analysed Little flexibility. Pre-determined questions might not be relevant. Standardised wording might inhibit Semistr. Combines flexibility with comparability Bias may increase as interviewer selects questions to probe and might inhibit comparability Unstr. Interviewer can adapt, interviewee is allowed to express in own words. Interviewer’s Comparability reduced, data analysis more difficult. Data quality depends on listening and communicating skills of Relationship with respondent Escape authoritarianism of questionnaires - more equal relationship Home ground? Rapport & Empathy Listen, guide & probe When recording, think of analysis… Do it, but think… and make sure you’re competent Recording should allow transcription. Transcription should allow for coding Coding should lead to synthesis Synthesis should allow for analysis Important Characteristics 1. Know your schedule 2. Establish rapport 3. Listen to respondent 4. Read between the lines 5. Accept the value of respondent’s views 6. Pick up on issues raised by respondent 7. Probe, explore, follow-up 8. Recall & relate to what has been said 9. Allow space to answer - don’t fear silence 10. Avoid irrelevant rambling Interview skills think about the motivations of interviewees and their implications listen more than you speak build trust - know about the company/organisation, telephone and then send a letter, use appropriate language (student/researcher, interview/discussion), show interest and enthusiasm ask straightforward questions consider the location of the interview begin with the general (things people know - build confidence) keep to time Probes to focus the discussion basic probe - repeat the question if the interviewee is going off the point. explanatory probes e.g. ‘What did you mean by that?’ ‘What makes you say that?’ focused probes for specific information e.g. ‘What sort of...?’ silent probe - pause and let them break the silence drawing out e.g. ‘Tell me more about that...’ or ‘What happened then...?’ mirroring or reflecting - express what the interviewee has said for clarification or to prompt them to review NOTE: be careful with prompts - use the same ones with everyone (perhaps have a list prepared). 2. Group interviews/ focus groups Similar to in-depth interviews but conducted with a group Interaction between subjects takes place was well as interaction between interviewer and subject Researcher is facilitator or just observer Use when particular group is important in a study but small group, or cannot be easily identified as group Possible strong characters dominating group 5/12 participants, justify choices. Tape/video record it, then transcribe and group answers. 3. Un/participant observation “A participant observer gathers data by participating in the daily life of the group or organisation he [sic] studies. He watches the people he is studying to see what situations they ordinarily meet and how they behave in them. He enters into conversation with some or all of the participants in these situations and discovers their interpretations of the event he has observed.” (Becker) What does this mean in research terms? Researcher gathers information by being an actual participant or an observer or behaviour Researcher may be known by the subjects as a researcher or may be incognito Difficulty in keeping accurate records: what to record, and how to record it? Researcher involvement Some thoughts on PO “Participant observation is the only method I know that enables the researchers to get close to the realities of social life. Its deficiencies in producing quantitative data are more than made up for by its ability to minimise the distance between researchers and their subjects of study.” (Gans) “A central paradox of the participant observation method is to seek information by not asking questions.” (Frankenburg) When to Use Originally used to learn from the unfamiliar ‘primitive’ societies, e.g. anthropological studies of tourism impacts on undeveloped societies More recently applied to the familiar, e.g. consumer behaviour in travel agencies or researchers in their own leisure environs Clear limitations for undergraduate research Issues to Consider Disclosure - Do you tell them? Stance - Observe or participate? Role - What can you ‘do’ to fit in? Getting ‘in’ - How do you make contact? Rapport - How close should you get? Questioning - Should you? Sampling - Are they representative? Proof - Can you demonstrate causal links? Can you draw inferences? Ethics - spying? confidentiality? intervention? Observing What? Actors and their relationships Doing what with what consequences Use of space Time - what happens when for how long Impact of key events Feelings - theirs and yours ........etc. PO assessed Pros Less bias because of internal checks More responsive / flexible Deals with realities of life Explores in greater depth Cons Lacks reliability & validity Not generalisable Observer bias “Going native” Hearsay Lack of evidence/proof 4. Delphi technique Named after classical Greek Delphi oracle. Gathering and analysing information from a panel of experts about future trends. Experts complete questionnaire indicating views of likelihood of certain developments taking place. Views collated and circulated to panel members for further comment, process can be repeated a number of times before final results collected Need to consider questionnaire design and analysis, and qualitative data analysis at the 5. Ethnography Utilises a number of techniques, not a single technique. Borrowed from anthropology. BUT: How feasible is it to use more than one research method in an undergraduate dissertation?? Summary: What can Qualitative Research do? (Creswell, 1994) Qual res. is useful in situations where: there is a lack of research and theory, so that little is known about the concepts involved nature of the phenomenon may not be suitable for quantitative measures need to explore and describe the phenomenon, and to develop theory Suggested reading Besides the key books already suggested, you should consider reading this debate about theory and interpretation of data : Denzin, N.K. and Lincoln, Y.S. (Eds) (1998) Strategies of qualitative inquiry. London:Sage Mason, J (1998) Qualitative researching. London: Sage. Yin, R.K (1994) Case study research: design and methods. 2nd edition. London: Sage. The following four short papers provide a good example of conflicting perspectives relating to the same research issue. They are also fun to read because the debate gets a bit personal! Slattery, P (1996) International development of hotel chains. In Kotas R et al (eds) The international hospitality business. London:Cassell. Hughes, H (1994) The structural theory of demand: a comment. International Journal of Hospitality Management. 12(4) : 309-311. Slattery, P (1994) The structural theory of business demand:a reply to Hughes. International Journal of Hospitality Management. 13 (2): 173-176. Hughes, H (1995) The structural theory of business demand:a rejoinder to Slattery. International Journal of Hospitality Management. 14 (2):117-118.