Open Discussion 9/8/12

We will hold the open discussion in the comments of this post.

Questions:

What is Qualitative Field Research?

How does it fit in with Science, Induction, and Qualitative Validity?

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15 thoughts on “Open Discussion 9/8/12

  1. QFR is ecclectic. Being able to immerse one’s self into data gathering can lead to more questions than answered. Answering research questions by qualititative research is a science in itself as you are consistently attempting to seek answers. QFR is lengthy and not very clear as you progress throught the process. As for qualitative validity, stamina, observations, values and asking the right questions allows one’s research to more concise and thorough.

      • Yes, Sophia, I would agree with your statement. I think that a field researcher needs both empathy and analytical ability, and they need to be able to balance a fine line between those two things

      • Empathy is key. This ability allows the researcher to understand and be reflective in their surroundings. Especially for long periods of time.

  2. Qualitative Field Research seems to me to be the initial phase of a true experimental research design. I think most researchers look to “group think” types of knowledge when creating programs/interventions/etc. to study its effects on the sample populations. This can work, however, field research can often illustrate and define the true problems of the sample and then “group think” types of thinking can be used to explain what has been observed.

    • I think you are on to something, Barley and Bailey talked about how ethnography and fieldwork are used to inductively define new theories. Once a theory has been defined, it can be confirmed and used to test varying elements in experimental studies.

      • Qualitative field research also brings forth stories. Some may say that it exposes the deeper meanings behind social norms.

      • I agree. If a researcher is just looking at the quantitative data, they are missing the nuances and meaning behind it. Starting with a qualitative study and induction provides a wealth of information that can spark new avenues for experimental studies.

    • Timothy – I completely agree. The validity of field research through the lens of “group think” carries with it a high risk of failure. In order to not prejudice your own observations, perhaps it would be wise to conduct the field research before ever looking at the conclusions of other researchers. I like the idea of using the “group think” – or common thought – as a way to evaluate your own observations.

  3. Qualitative Field Research, according to Bailey, is defined as “the systematic study of ordinary activities . . . by interacting with, listening to, and observing people during the course of their daily lives, usually in some self-contained setting.” Practically speaking, this means having a direct encounter with the phenomenon under study, making it personal by getting face-to-face with people involved on it. It means studying something through the perspective of those that are most familiar with it.

    This fits in with science, induction, and qualitative validity in a number of ways. The scientific enterprise is based on the production and validation of knowledge according to rational and testable methodologies, which in nearly every case are inductive. Qualitative field research does precisely this by studying a phenomenon that is not understood, at least from a certain and valuable perspective, and collecting information using validated qualitative methodologies. Induction comes into play here as a result of getting on the street, so to speak, and not resorting to logical if-then statements from a set of hypothetical first principles. Validity is ensured and can be tested using methodologies that have been evaluated — the issue here is with fidelity, although this can be assessed by painstakingly reviewing the data itself.

  4. Qualitative research is observation of interactions that are not apparent with quantitative methods of gathering data. Theories describing phenomenon are based on observations of interactions in a specific setting over a period of time. The scientific validity of a qualitative study is the credibility transferability, dependability, and reliability of the data collected and whether the analysis fits with the scope of the data.

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