Researchers who follow qualitative methodologies are conducting naturalistic inquiry. Naturalistic inquiry values the variance of human experience and assumes that a straightforward, objectivist collection of knowledge is not possible because humans operate and understand the world based on their own, individual constructed realities. Thus, researchers interested in qualitative methodologies understand that a paradigm shift away from positivist or "conventional" research is necessary to both complete and evaluate naturalistic inquiry.
Qualitative researchers follow philosophies such as the interpretivist paradigm, the critical paradigm, or the feminist paradigm, to name a few. They collect data within the natural world through methods such as observation, interview, or documentation. These methodologies allow researchers to gain an understanding of the natural word based on how individuals experience and make meaning from that world.
- Introduction to Qualitative Research Jump to content
- Subjectivity & Reflexivity Jump to content
- Methodological Paradigms Jump to content
- Quality & Rigor Jump to content
Introduction to Qualitative Research
Qualitative research is a form of research that focuses on understanding human experiences within their natural setting. Qualitative researchers assume that each individual constructs a different understanding of reality based on how they make meaning from their experiences. This video briefly introduces qualitative research. It reviews major components of qualitative thinking, defines the term "naturalistic inquiry," and discusses the paradigm shift away from quantitative thinking necessary to conduct qualitative research.
Subjectivity & Reflexivity
In qualitative research, understanding how the researcher’s experiences, biases, and preconceptions influence (or could influence) a research project is integral to having a quality research project. While a researcher’s personal experience impacts any research project, in qualitative research, researchers work to examine these influences to understand how they may create biases that come into play during the project. By being aware of biases and preconceptions, a researcher can remove their “blinders” and prevent these from driving the research project. In this video, we introduce the concepts of subjectivity and reflexivity and discuss the subjectivity statement, a method commonly used by novice researchers to examine subjectivities and how they come to play in the research process.
Theoretical perspectives that explain a new researcher's understanding of reality and knowledge are influential to any research project. In qualitative research, there are a wide variety of theoretical stances and each will determine how a researcher approaches a project, including their choice of methodology and methods. In this presentation, I briefly discuss the concept of a methodological paradigm, how these theories influence research, and how researchers can work to determine their own theoretical stances.
Quality & Rigor
In every research study, researchers must consider what makes research “good.” In quantitative research, researchers consider validity and reliability in their study. For qualitative research, these terms are not accurate descriptions of the concepts necessary to establish a rigorous study of high quality. We must shift our thinking to questions quality and rigor. One of the most common ways to establish quality in qualitative studies is to achieve “trustworthiness” where researchers ask, “what makes our study credible, dependable, transferable, and confirmable?” In this presentation, I will examine concepts of quality and rigor in qualitative research, primarily focusing on the concept of trustworthiness, and discuss common methods used to ensure them in completing qualitative research.