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Qualitative Research Methods Collecting Evidence, Crafting Analysis, Communicating Impact

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  • Edition: 2nd
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2019-08-13
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
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Qualitative Research Methods: Collecting Evidence, Crafting Analysis, Communicating Impact is a comprehensive guide on both the theoretical foundations and practical application of qualitative methodology. Adopting a phronetic-iterative approach, this foundational book leads readers through the chronological progression of a qualitative research project, from designing a study and collecting and analyzing data to developing theories and effectively communicating the results–allowing readers to employ qualitative methods in their projects as they follow each chapter.

Coverage of topics such as qualitative theories, ethics, sampling, interview techniques, qualitative quality, and advice on practical fieldwork provides clear and concise guidance on how to design and conduct sound research projects. Easy-to-follow instructions on iterative qualitative data analysis explain how to organize, code, interpret, make claims, and build theory. Throughout, the author offers her own backstage stories about fieldwork, analysis, drafting, writing, and publishing, revealing the emotional and humorous aspects of practicing qualitative methods.

Now in its second edition, this thorough and informative text includes new and expanded material covering post-qualitative research, phenomenology, textual analysis and cultural studies, gaining access to elite and difficult to access populations, persuasive writing, novel interviewing approaches, and more. Numerous examples, case studies, activities, and discussion questions have been updated to reflect current research and ensure contemporary relevance.

  • Written in an engaging and accessible narrative style by an acclaimed scholar and researcher
  • Offers new and updated examples of coding and qualitative analysis, full-color photos and illustrations, and a companion instructor website
  • Synthesizes the most up-to-date multidisciplinary literature on qualitative research methods including seven main approaches to qualitative inquiry: grounded theory, case study, ethnography and ethnography of communication, phenomenology, narrative inquiry and autoethnography, participatory action research, and creative, performative, and arts-based research
  • Presents innovative qualitative data collection methods and modern representation strategies, such as virtual ethnography, photovoice, and mobile interviewing

Qualitative Research Methods: Collecting Evidence, Crafting Analysis, Communicating Impact is an ideal resource for undergraduate and graduate students, instructors, and faculty across multiple disciplines including the social sciences, healthcare, education, management, and the humanities, and for practitioners seeking expert guidance on practical qualitative methods.

Author Biography

SARAH J. TRACY is Professor of Human Communication, Arizona State University-Tempe, and an internationally recognized expert on qualitative research methods. She has contributed more than 75 essays to publications such as Qualitative Inquiry, Communication Monographs, and Management Communication Quarterly, and developed the renowned "eight big tent model" for high quality qualitative research.

Table of Contents

Preface: Is this book for me? xvi

1 Developing contextual research that matters 1

Overview and introduction 2

Three core qualitative concepts: self‐reflexivity, context, and thick description 2

Self‐reflexivity 2

Context 3

Thick description 3

How qualitative research is distinct from quantitative research 4

A phronetic approach: doing qualitative research that matters 6

Strengths of qualitative research 7

Qualitative research is useful in a variety of jobs, settings, and disciplinary foci 8

Exercise 1.1 Interviewing a friend, colleague, or classmate 9

Moving from ideas to sites, settings, and participants 11

Sources of research ideas 12

Exercise 1.2 Field/site/participant brainstorm 13

Consider This 1.1 Sources of research ideas 14

Compatibility, yield, suitability, and feasibility 15

Researcher’s Notepad 1.1 Negotiating challenges with rare or hidden populations 17

Tips and Tools 1.1 Factoring the ease of fieldwork 18

Moving toward a research question 18

Researcher’s Notepad 1.2 Published examples of research questions 20

Considering collaboration 20

Exercise 1.3 Early research question brainstorm 21

Following, Forgetting, and Improvising 22

Exercise 1.4 Three potential field sites and/or participant groups 23

In summary 23

2 Entering the conversation of qualitative research 25

Inductive/emic, deductive/etic, and abductive/iterative approaches 26

The funnel metaphor 29

Sensitizing concepts 29

Exercise 2.1 A quick dip into the field 30

A complex focus on the whole 30

Naturalistic inquiry 31

Thick description 31

Bricolage 32

A sampling of theoretical approaches that commonly use qualitative methods 32

Symbolic interactionism 33

Consider This 2.1 How do I know myself? 35

Structuration theory 36

Consider This 2.2 Why am I standing in line? 37

Exercise 2.2 Action vs. structure 38

Sensemaking 38

Historical matters and current conversations in qualitative research 40

The early days 40

Ethically problematic research and the creation of the IRB 41

Recent history in academia and the private sector 41

Current conversations: ethics, post‐qualitative research, big data 42

In summary 44

Exercise 2.3 Research problems and questions 45

3 Paradigmatic reflections and qualitative research territories 48

Paradigms: positivist, interpretive, critical, postmodern 49

Positivist and post‐positivist paradigms 49

Interpretive paradigm 51

Exercise 3.1 Verstehen/understanding 52

Critical paradigm 52

Postmodern and other “post” paradigms 55

Consider This 3.1 Whose stylistic rules? 57

Paradigmatic complexities and intersections 58

Exercise 3.2 Assumptions of paradigmatic approaches 59

Key territories and approaches of qualitative research 61

Case study 61

Grounded theory 62

Ethnography and ethnography of communication 63

Phenomenology 65

Participatory action research 67

Narrative inquiry and autoethnography 69

Creative, performative, and arts‐based approaches 70

In summary 71

4 Research design: Sampling, research proposals, ethics, and IRB 75

Planning the data collection: fieldwork, interviews, texts, and visuals 76

The value of fieldwork and “participant witnessing” 76

The value of interviews 78

Consider This 4.1 Yin and yang: taijitu 79

The value of textual analysis and cultural studies 80

The value of visual and arts‐based materials 81

Developing a sampling plan: who, what, where, how, and when 82

Random samples and representative samples 82

Convenience/opportunistic samples 83

Maximum variation samples 83

Snowball samples 84

Theoretical‐construct samples 84

Typical, extreme, deviant, and critical incident samples 84

Tips and Tools 4.1 Sampling plans 86

How and when to choose your sample 86

Ethics and institutional review boards (IRB) 87

Research instruments, informed consent, and confidentiality 88

Different levels of ethical risk and IRB review 89

The quirks of IRB 90

Creating a research proposal 92

Tips and Tools 4.2 Research proposal components 92

Title, abstract, and key words 93

Introduction/rationale 94

Exercise 4.1 Conceptual cocktail party 95

Literature review/conceptual framework 96

Research questions/foci 97

Methodology and methods 98

Tips and Tools 4.3 What belongs in a qualitative methods section? 98

Budget/timeline 99

Tips and Tools 4.4 What to include in a qualitative project budget 99

Projected outcomes 100

In summary 100

5 Negotiating access and exploring the scene 104

Confessional tales that illustrate common challenges of access and consent 105

Riding my mentor’s coattails: Citywest 911 emergency call‐takers 105

Becoming a full participant: the Radiant Sun cruise ship 106

Entering a closed organization: Women’s Minimum and Nouveau Jail 107

Accessing an elite interviewee population surrounding a delicate topic 108

Practical considerations of negotiating access 110

Do some homework before approaching the scene 110

Researcher’s Notepad 5.1 Contact information log 111

Please don’t reject me! Seeking research permission 111

Researcher’s Notepad 5.2 Sample access proposal 114

Virtual “access” versus textual harvesting 115

Negotiating access for interviews 116

Abandoning the ego, engaging embodiment, embracing liminality 117

Exercise 5.1 Self‐identity audit 119

Navigating those first research interactions 119

Researcher’s Notepad 5.3 Initial reactions speak volumes 121

Relationship building with participants 121

Seeking informed consent in the scene 122

Tips and Tools 5.1 Navigating the beginning of the qualitative research project 123

Exploratory methods 123

Briefing interviews and participant information table 123

Researcher’s Notepad 5.4 Participant information table 124

Member diaries 124

Maps and narrative tours 125

Exercise 5.2 Map and narrative tour 127

In summary 127

6 Field roles, fieldnotes, and field focus 129

Field roles and standpoints 130

Complete participant 131

Play participant 132

Focused witness 133

Consider This 6.1 When playing is uncomfortable 134

Complete witness 135

Visual and virtual aspects of fieldwork 136

Writing fieldnotes: raw records, headnotes, and formal fieldnotes 137

Raw records and headnotes 138

Exercise 6.1 Taking raw records in the scene 140

Formal fieldnotes 140

Researcher’s Notepad 6.1 Fieldnote header 141

Qualities of good fieldnotes 142

Economy versus detail 142

Showing (and using dialogue) versus telling 142

Making the familiar strange and the strange familiar 143

Noticing the data as evidence 144

Analytic reflections 145

Consider This 6.2 Noticing the data as evidence 145

Fieldnote wrap‐up 146

Tips and Tools 6.1 Fieldnote writing tips 147

Focusing the data and using heuristic devices 147

Exercise 6.2 Fieldnotes 149

Following, Forgetting, and Improvising 150

In summary 152

7 Interview planning and design: Structuring, wording, and questioning 155

Self‐reflexivity in interviews 156

Exercise 7.1 Self‐reflexive interviewing 157

Interview structure, type, and stance 157

Level of structure in interviews 157

Interview types: ethnographic, informant, respondent, narrative, discursive 158

Interview stances: naïveté, collaborative, pedagogical, responsive, confrontational 160

Interview guide and question wording 161

Tips and Tools 7.1 Interview structure, types, and stances 162

Wording good questions 162

Exercise 7.2 Strategizing interviews 162

Researcher’s Notepad 7.1 Research questions versus interview questions 163

Interview questions: types, purposes, examples, and sequencing 164

Opening the interview 164

Tips and Tools 7.2 Interview question types 165

Generative questions 166

Directive questions 168

Closing the interview 169

Interview question wrap‐up 170

Visual, embodied, and experiential approaches 170

Researcher’s Notepad 7.2 Mobile peripatetic interviews 173

How many interviews are “enough”? 174

In summary 175

Exercise 7.3 Interview schedule or guide 176

8 Interview practice: Embodied, mediated, and focus‐group approaches 181

Conducting face‐to‐face interviews 182

Interview logistics 182

Why good interviewing is so much more than asking questions 184

Technologically mediated approaches to interviewing 186

Strengths of mediated interviews 186

Disadvantages of mediated interviews 188

Tips and Tools 8.1 Mediated interviews: advantages and disadvantages 189

The focus‐group interview 190

The value of focus groups 190

When to use focus groups 191

Planning focus groups 193

Facilitating the focus group 193

Tips and Tools 8.2 Logistics of formal focus groups 194

Overcoming common focus group and interviewing challenges 196

Exercise 8.1 Practicing focus groups 197

Researcher’s Notepad 8.1 Remedial–pedagogical interviews 199

Transcribing 201

Exercise 8.2 Role‐playing interview challenges in a fishbowl 202

Tips and Tools 8.3 Common transcribing symbols 204

In summary 206

9 Data analysis basics: A phronetic iterative approach 208

A phronetic iterative analysis approach 209

Organizing and preparing the data 212

Coding: what it is and how to start 213

Consider This 9.1 Motivating questions and coding domains 215

Analysis logistics: colors, cutting, or computers? 216

Manual approaches 216

Researcher’s Notepad 9.1 Manual coding visual displays: Artistic canvas and tabletop categories 217

Computer‐aided approaches with everyday software 218

Primary‐cycle coding, coding question start list, and first‐level descriptive codes 219

Focusing the analysis and creating a codebook 221

Researcher’s Notepad 9.2 Codebook excerpt 222

Consider This 9.2 Focusing the data analysis 224

Secondary‐cycle coding: second‐level analytic and axial/hierarchical codes 225

Exercise 9.1 Grouping together codes via axial and hierarchical coding 227

Synthesizing activities: memos, negative cases, and analytic outlines 228

Researcher’s Notepad 9.3 Analytic memos 229

Researcher’s Notepad 9.4 Loose analysis outline 230

Following, Forgetting, and Improvising 231

In summary 232

Exercise 9.2 Iterative analysis basics 233

10 Advanced data analysis: The art and magic of interpretation 236

Advanced logistical tools for data analysis 238

Visual data displays 238

Researcher’s Notepad 10.1 Matrix display 239

Tips and Tools 10.1 Flowchart depicting iterative analysis process 241

Computer‐aided qualitative data analysis software (CAQDAS) 242

Exemplars and vignettes 245

Developing typologies 247

Dramatistic strategy and narrative analysis 248

Tips and Tools 10.2 Questions to inspire narrative analysis 250

Metaphor analysis 251

Explanation and causality 253

Discourse tracing 255

Researcher’s Notepad 10.2 Micro, meso, macro sources 257

A post‐qualitative analysis: deconstructionism and arts‐based research 258

Following, Forgetting, and Improvising 260

In summary 261

Exercise 10.1 Advanced data analysis/interpretation 262

11 Qualitative quality: Creating a credible, ethical, significant study 265

Moving beyond objectivity, reliability, and formal generalizability 266

Eight “big tent” criteria for high quality qualitative research 269

Tips and Tools 11.1 Eight “big tent” criteria for excellent qualitative research 270

Worthy topic 271

Rich rigor 271

Sincerity 272

Exercise 11.1 Gauging worth and rigor 273

Self‐reflexivity 273

Transparency 274

Researcher’s Notepad 11.1 Sincerity word cloud 274

Credibility 275

Thick description 275

Crystallization or triangulation (NOT both at the same time) 275

Multivocality 277

Tips and Tools 11.2 Intercoder reliability 277

Member reflections (NOT member “checks”) 278

Resonance 279

Transferability and naturalistic generalization 279

Aesthetic merit 280

Significant contribution 281

Ethical research practice 283

Procedural ethics 283

Exercise 11.2 Articulating and gauging significance 283

Situational ethics 284

Consider This 11.1 Situational and relational ethics 285

Meaningful coherence 286

Following, Forgetting, and Improvising 287

Consider This 11.2 The ten lies of ethnography 288

In summary 288

12 Theorizing and writing: Explaining, synthesizing, and crafting a tale 292

Theorizing, brainstorming, explaining 293

Exercise 12.1 Words push back on us: a creative analytic Exercise 294

Exercise 12.2 Theorizing via bracketing, abduction, metaphor, and explaining 295

Types of tales: realist, impressionistic/poetic, confessional/autoethnographic 296

The realist tale 297

Creative, impressionist, and literary tales 297

The confessional tale 299

Researcher’s Notepad 12.1 Poetic inquiry 300

Archaeology of a “traditional” qualitative essay 301

Researcher’s Notepad 12.2 Dialogue as a powerful literary tactic 302

Exercise 12.3 Accidental rewrites 303

Writing the framing material: title, abstract, key words 304

Writing the introduction, the literature review, and the conceptual framework 305

Writing the research methodology and method(s) 305

Findings and analysis: choosing an organizational approach 306

Researcher’s Notepad 12.3 Methods data display 307

Themes/topics 308

Chronology/life‐story 309

Convergence/braided narrative 309

Puzzle explication strategy 310

Separated text 310

Layered/messy texts 311

Exercise 12.4 Which writing strategy? 312

Conclusions, implications, limitations, and future research 312

Following, Forgetting, and Improvising 315

In summary 317

13 Drafting, polishing, and publishing 320

Writing as a method of inquiry 322

How to write and format qualitative research 323

Choosing the research materials 323

Rich, luminous, and thick representations 324

Structuring the data in sections, paragraphs, and sentences 325

Exercise 13.1 Writing from different perspectives and verb tenses 326

Formatting qualitative work 327

Visual representations and art 329

Researcher’s Notepad 13.1 Visual representation 330

Setting yourself up for success by considering the audience first 330

Exercise 13.2 Article format model 332

Submitting, revising, and resubmitting for journal publication 333

Tips and Tools 13.1 National or international journals that have published qualitative communication research (an incomplete list) 334

Rise and grind: overcoming common writing and submission challenges 336

How to write a lot 337

Addressing common challenges in qualitative writing 338

Following, Forgetting, and Improvising 342

In summary 342

14 Qualitative methodology matters: Exiting and communicating impact 344

Navigating exit and research disengagement 345

Give notice and say goodbye 346

Exits can be emotional 346

Don’t spoil the scene 346

Give back 347

Researcher’s Notepad 14.1 Thank you note 348

Ethically delivering the findings 348

Public scholarship: crafting representations that move beyond the scholarly essay 349

Following, Forgetting, and Improvising 350

Public scholarship 351

Staged performances 351

Researcher’s Notepad 14.2 Staged performance with impact 352

Films 353

White papers and translated essays 354

Tips and Tools 14.1 White papers 355

Grant applications and reports 356

Consulting and private sector ethnography 357

Media relations 358

Exercise 14.1 Six‐word stories 359

Web presence 359

Warning: doing research that matters can be terrifying 361

Overcoming lingering obstacles to public scholarship 362

Exercise 14.2 Making an impact via public scholarship 364

Following, Forgetting, and Improvising 364

In summary 366

Appendix A Fieldnote 367

Appendix B Focus group guide 369

Appendix C Interview/focus group excerpts with different levels of transcription detail 373

References 377

Index 400

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