Considerations for Conducting Qualitative Research
Pp. 104-146 (43)
Methodological techniques and conceptual analysis guide QCR. Planning helps qualitative
researchers identify and explore the meanings that participants attach to their experiences. An
observation guide or ethnographic protocol is useful for standardizing collection procedures and
capturing informative details. Clarifying data analysis procedures is crucial. Project staff training helps
credibility and consistency of collection and analytical techniques. Triangulation, using multiple
sources and methods of collecting and analyzing data, may permit collection of meaningful data.
Coding and ratings are based on pre-established theoretical categories, emergent conceptual constructs
or both. Manual and/or software analytical techniques are used. Results may be numerically tabulated.
Quantitative coding can supplement qualitative procedures. Ensuring validity and reliability may be a
concern for some qualitative researchers, but not others, particularly ethnographers striving for
authenticity. Ethnography involves attempted immersion in participants’ lives to obtain their
perspectives and understandings of their cultural and social realities. Despite its disadvantages, e.g.,
considerable time to gain trust and difficulties in generalizing, ethnography is popular. It can be
integrated with quantitative methods or function as a stand-alone method. While ethnography does not
emphasize traditional reliability and validity, it strives for rigor. Its methods are authentic and
defensible when they follow a sound protocol. Grounded theory is frequently used to extract
information and develop refined themes. Focus groups are also popular. They demand attentiveness to
tasks. All qualitative research is concerned with design, study management, study site, sampling, data
collection and analysis. Photography and visual literacy enhance QCR. This chapter concludes with
focus group assignments.
General Sequence, Analysis Procedures, Ethnography, Focus Groups, Managing Data, Design
and Methods, Dissemination, Grant Reviews, Photography, Visual Literacy.
Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Howard University, Washington, D.C.