3 Things To Stop Doing In Qualitative Research

Here is a quick rant…

I’m going to make this short.

I’ve started this post at least 20 times trying to find the best way to write this in an approachable, non-judgmental manner. Didn’t find one and so I’m just going to write.

I will say that I have a list of things to stop doing that surpasses the three I describe below. I’m just going to start with these to take into account those of you who simply just don’t know, who are new to this, or somewhere in-between.

Here we go:

Qualitative research does not equal interviews.

Interviews are one option for data collection. Interviews are not exclusive to qualitative research. Therefore, let's all agree that we will no longer say something like “because this is a qualitative research project, the researcher used interviews”. Some of you will not even acknowledge that you are intending to do a qualitative study; you just write that you did interviews.

Simply put: Qualitative research is a type of research; an interview is a type of data collection. Neither are a methodology. Which brings me to my next point.

There are other methodologies than phenomenology…and chances are your intended design isn’t a phenomenological study.

Those of who think this doesn’t apply to you because you do recognize the need for a methodology and only use phenomenology…Nope!

Phenomenology…is great. Especially those who understand it and can identify which type of phenomenology you are using. I rarely, if ever, see that identified though.

Phenomenology is not a catch-all for when you are unsure or too lazy to research methodologies. There are histories and theories attached to phenomenology.

You can also research other methodologies (narrative, case study, etc.). The methodology that you do choose should match with the rest of your design and who you are as the researcher.

If the researcher is the instrument, why is there no description of that instrument?

The researcher is the instrument in qualitative research. The researcher collects the data and analyzes the data. The researcher has a worldview, past experiences, and understandings that shape how that data is understood and used. As a result, the reader should know about the researcher (the instrument) in order to understand the research findings (results).

This requires the researcher to let us know who they are and how they see the world. Objective research does not exist. I need to know your experiences, assumptions, and expectations so I understand more how you reached your findings.

Just reporting the findings as if it is fact or obvious is not cute.

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