Qualitative Study Conduct: Collecting Data

Introduction

When conducting research, it is very important to ensure that the quality of data meets the expectations of the intended audience. According to Merriam and Merriam (2009), the nature of data collected will define the validity and reliability of the findings that will be made by the researcher. Quality of data relies on several factors such as the qualifications of the respondents, the time available for the research, instruments used in the collection process, among others. Creswell (2013) says that it is important for a researcher to put into consideration some factors when designing an interview, an observational study, or a focus group. Effective data collection and analysis process would result in a trustworthy report that can be put into application in a practical context. In this critical writing paper, the researcher will look at how to conduct an effective qualitative study putting into consideration all the ethical concerns.

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Literature review

According to Flick (2009), there is a thin life that differentiates good and bad data. The scholar says that when conducting research, the required data is always available in the field. However, the number of factors will determine if the researcher comes from the field with good or bad data. Several factors constitute what good data is when collected from the field. One such factor is the qualification of the respondents. In this context, qualification does not refer to the academic credentials of the respondents. It refers to the degree of knowledge the respondents have towards an issue. For instance, an eyewitness to a murder is the best-qualified candidate when reporting what happened, irrespective of his academic credentials. Similarly, a forensic expert is more qualified to conduct an investigation and give a report on a crime than a traffic police officer. Other than the qualifications of the respondents, the time is taken to conduct research also defines the quality of data. The data collection process that takes only a few days will provide weak data because the researcher will not have enough time to verify the information collected.

The instrument and approach used in collecting data will also define its quality. A researcher will need a carefully crafted questionnaire that will ask relevant questions. In qualitative research, face-to-face interviews are always more appropriate than in cases when a questionnaire is e-mailed to the respondents. In such forms, the researcher is allowed to gather non-verbal cues from the researcher that helps in shedding more light on the question under investigation. When dealing with a focus group, Creswell (2013) says that it is always necessary to understand their specific characteristics about what is to be investigated. For instance, some American police officers have been accused of discriminating the Blacks when they are suspected to have committed a given crime.

When the focus group in such research is the police officers under the investigation, they will likely try to unhook themselves from the allegations, even if it means lying. When conducting such a study, it becomes more important for a researcher to be in a position to identify when one is trying to give wrong information deliberately by observing their non-verbal communications. Yin (1994) says that when conducting an observational study, a researcher should have a clear knowledge of what he is looking for in the field. If this is not clear, one may spend a lot of time without gathering the necessary information. Creswell (2013) says that the observational study requires a sharp eye that can discern the needed information from a bunch of other irrelevant data.

According to Flick (2009), unlike the quantitative data that allows for the use of statistical instruments for analysis, qualitative data analysis is often considered complex because it wholly relies on the skills and ability of the researcher to synthesis the raw data and present it in a way that is relevant to the issue under investigation. According to Merriam and Merriam (2009), a researcher needs to understand the options that are available when conducting qualitative data. These options include phenomenology, ethnography, case study, and grounded theory. Each of these options will be appropriate based on the nature of the study.

To produce a high-quality analysis, it is necessary to employ an appropriate analytical technique. According to Flick (2009), before choosing an analytical technique, a researcher should first understand the nature of his study. A researcher should know when to use phenomenology, ethnography, case study, or grounded theory. These qualitative research methods may be appropriate in different contexts. What one needs to understand is the relevance of the study, the nature of the data, and the purpose for which the research is conducted. Based on this, one can choose the best technique that will be appropriate for the study. There is no single approach of those discussed that is superior to the other.

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According to Merriam and Merriam (2009), a researcher should remain ethical when collecting and analyzing data. It is important to ensure that personal biases do not affect the people selected to participate in a study because this may affect the validity of the research. It is also important to note that the researcher is ethically responsible to the respondents in many ways. First, it is the responsibility of a researcher to explain to the respondents what the research is all about when seeking their permission to participate in the study. Those who accept to participate in the study must be protected. This means that their identity should not be revealed to third parties. While analyzing data, a researcher should remain objective by avoiding the temptation to manipulate the data in any way.

Research design and various options for data generation that fit the five research methodologies being studied

According to Creswell (2013), when choosing the appropriate research design, it is important to put into consideration the nature of the questions used. Based on the research questions given above, a descriptive research design will be the most appropriate for the study. To explain with precision the employee management development programs and their impacts, a qualitative research design will be very appropriate. Given that the research will take a qualitative research design, the options of data generation available will be the use of qualitative research interviews, focus groups, and case studies.

Forms of data generation which are likely to apply in different methodologies

Different research methodologies may need different data generation methods. Phenomenology will require that the researcher uses the experiences of the first person to narrate the story in a way that will bring out the data needed from the event that took place. To generate data through ethnography, the researcher will need to stay with the focus group for some time to understand their way of life. Case studies will generate data by analyzing specific cases of interest in the research. The grounded theory will use inducting method where a researcher conducts systematic research to systematically generate a theory. Each of these methods may be appropriate in different contexts. According to Creswell (2013), a researcher should understand the nature of the data required before coming up with an appropriate method that will help in generating information that addresses the topic of the study.

When to choose the case study research

According to Yin (1994), a researcher may choose to use case study research when investigating a specific real-life event in an organizational setting. Detailed information of the events that took place and how they were related must be available for a case study to be successful. When using a case study, data will be collected through the explanation of the events that occurred. The researcher will have to identify how one event led to a series of other events that culminated in the outcome (Boje, 2001). For instance, the fall of Lehman Brothers is one of the phenomena that may require a case study. When a researcher decides to be a participant in a research setting, he must behave similarly to others and avoid biases to collect the desired information. As a participant, one would need to be keen to identify the facts relevant to the study.

Conclusion

When collecting data, a researcher must observe some rules to ensure that necessary information is collected from the field. This starts by identifying the respondents with the right information, using appropriate tools to collect and analyze data, and avoiding any biases that may influence the outcome of the report.

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References

Boje, D. (2001). Narrative methods for organizational and communication research. London, United Kingdom: Sage.

Creswell, J. (2013). Qualitative inquiry and research design: choosing among five approaches. London: Sage.

Flick, U. (2009). An introduction to qualitative research. Los Angeles: Sage Publications.

Merriam, S. B., & Merriam, S. B. (2009). Qualitative research: A guide to design and implementation. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Yin, R. (1994). Case study research–design and methods. London: Sage.

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