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  • Computer Software for Qualitative Research
    in qualitative research but according to Richards and Richards 1993 Computers offer to address each of the obvious barriers to qualitative analysis by manual methods limitations on size flexibility and complexity of data records and systems of theorizing about data The authors also argue that using computers for qualitative research can give studies more credibility and status because of the association between computers and hard data Research software can also help the researcher to analyze data that was previously too unwieldy for study Finally computers greatly speed up the process of retrieving and exploring data In their text Computer Programs for Qualitative Analysis Weitzman and Miles 1995 cite a list of the ways computer software can help the qualitative researcher p 5 Making notes in the field Writing up or transcribing field notes Editing correcting extending or revising field notes Coding attaching keywords or tags to segments of text to permit later retrieval Storage keeping text in an organized database Search and retrieval locating relevant segments of texts and making them available for inspection Data linking connecting relevant data segments to each other forming categories clusters or networks of information Memoing writing reflective commentaries on some aspect of the data as a basis for deeper understanding Content analysis counting frequencies sequence or locations of words and phrases Data display placing selected or reduced data in a condensed organized format such as a matrix or network for inspection Conclusion drawing and verification aiding the analyst in interpreting displayed data and testing findings Theory building developing systematic conceptually coherent explanations of findings testing hypotheses Graphic mapping creating diagrams that depict findings or theories Preparing interim and final reports Before choosing software for a qualitative study researchers should not only be familiar with the types of software available but they should also be

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  • Commentary on Ethnography, Observational Research, and Narrative Inquiry
    There s no such thing as qualitative data Everything is either 1 or 0 p 40 To this another researcher D T Campbell asserts All research ultimately has a qualitative grounding p 40 This back and forth banter among qualitative and quantitative researchers is essentially unproductive according to Miles and Huberman They and many other researchers agree that these two research methods need each other more often than not But because qualitative data typically involves words and quantitative data involves numbers there are some researchers who feel that one is better or more scientific than the other Another major difference between the two is that qualitative research is inductive and quantitative research is deductive In qualitative research a hypothesis is not needed to begin research However all quantitative research requires a hypothesis before research can begin Another major difference between qualitative and quantitative research deals with the underlying assumptions about the role of the researcher In quantitative research the researcher is ideally an objective observer who neither participates in nor influences what is being studied In qualitative research however it is thought that the researcher can learn the most by participating and or being immersed in a research situation These basic underlying assumptions of both methodologies guide and sequence the types of data collection methods employed Although there are clear differences between qualitative and quantitative approaches some researchers maintain that the choice between using qualitative or quantitative approaches actually has less to do with methodologies than it does with positioning oneself within a particular discipline or research tradition The difficulty in choosing a method is compounded by the fact that research is often affiliated with universities and other institutions The findings of research projects often guide important decisions about specific practices and policies Choices about which approach to use may reflect the interests of those conducting or benefiting from the research and the purposes for which the findings will be applied Decisions about which kind of research method to use may also be based on the researcher s own experience and preference the population being researched the proposed audience for findings time money and other resources available Hathaway 1995 Some researchers believe that qualitative and quantitative methodologies cannot be combined because the assumptions underlying each tradition are so vastly different Other researchers think they can be used in combination only by alternating between methods qualitative research is appropriate to answer certain kinds of questions in certain conditions and quantitative is right for others And some researchers think that both qualitative and quantitative methods can be used simultaneously to answer a research question To a certain extent researchers on all sides of the debate are correct each approach has its drawbacks Quantitative research often forces responses or people into categories that might not fit in order to make meaning Qualitative research on the other hand sometimes focuses too closely on individual results and fails to make connections to larger situations or possible causes of the results Rather than discounting either approach

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  • Related Links
    Research and Narrative Inquiry Related Links Annotated Bibliography Resources Print Friendly Format About this Guide Contributors Citation Ethnography Observational Research and Narrative Inquiry Related Links The following is a list of Internet links that are related to the field of qualitative observational research methods The Association of Qualitative Research Practitioners http www aqrp co uk Nova Southeastern University s School of Social and Systematic Studies go to their Homepage and

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  • Annotated Bibliography
    57 This article discusses methods of improving qualitative research in education Gilmore D D 1991 Fall Subjectivity and subjugation Fieldwork in the stratified community Human Organization 215 This article outlines an anthropologist s efforts to maintain scholarly neutrality in an agricultural town in Franco Spain where class conflict was severe Greenberg J H 1954 A quantitative approach to the morphological typology of language In R F Spencer Ed Method and perspective in anthropology Minneapolis MN University of Minnesota Press The author compares and contrasts typological methods of languages against the genetic historical method Hammersley M Atkinson P 1983 Ethnography Principles in practice London Taveston This work deals with what ethnographic research is what its strengths and weaknesses are and how to go about conducting the research for your own project Hammersley M 1990 Reading ethnographic research A critical guide New York Longman This book is a how to manual on ethnographic research emphasizing understanding within unspoken contexts Hasselkus B R 1995 Beyond ethnography Expanding our understanding and criteria for qualitative research Occupational Therapy Journal of Research 15 75 84 Hasselkus discusses the different methods of qualitative research Hathaway R 1995 Assumptions underlying quantitative and qualitative research Implications for institutional research Research in higher education 36 5 535 562 Hathaway says that the choice between using qualitative or quantitative approaches is less about methodology and more about aligning oneself with particular theoretical and academic traditions He concluded that the two approaches address questions in very different ways each one having its own advantages and drawbacks Heath S B 1983 Ways with words Language life and work in communities and classrooms New York Cambridge University Press Heath studies two communities one Black and one White to analyze the citizens language development Heath S B 1993 The Madness es of Reading and Writing Ethnography Anthropology and Education Quarterly v24 n3 p256 68 Sep Describes how these reactions have led the author to see things in the work that she had not seen before Strengths and weaknesses of the book she identifies have implications for the conduct of future ethnographic research Hinsley C M 1981 Savages and scientists The Smithsonian Institution and the development of American anthropology Washington D C Smithsonian Institution Press Hornberger N 1995 Ethnography in Linguistic Perspective Understanding School Processes Language and Education v9 n4 p233 48 Perspectives and methodologies that sociolinguistics brings to ethnographic research in schools Methodological contributions arising from linguistics that interactional sociolinguistics and microethnograpy share such as the use of naturally occurring language data the consultation of native intuition and discourse analysis This short Web site briefly describes qualitative research and gives an example of how it can be used to supplement quantitative studies in health care Journal of Contemporary Ethnography formerly Urban Life Newbury Park CA Sage This is a quarterly publication containing recent ethnographic studies and what s new in ethnography This publication is a good source of information on and examples of how other researchers are conducting their own ethnographic studies Kamil M L Langer J A Shanahan T 1985 Ethnographic methodologies Understanding research in reading and writing Boston Allyn and Bacon 71 91 The chapter defines ethnographic research examines its theoretical underpinnings and contrasts it with experimental research It includes an extended example from Heath s Questioning at Home and at School A Comparative Study Kirk J Miller M 1986 Reliability and validity in qualitative research Beverly Hills CA Sage This book investigates how realiability and validity in qualitative research help to evaluate the objectivity of particular studies The authors assert that given the true meaning of validity many studies including scientific ones are not really valid Also included are guidelines for maintaining reliability in qualitative studies Lancy D E 1993 Qualitative research in education White Plains NY Longman This text explores the many issues of qualitative research Lauer J M Asher J W 1988 Ethnographies Composition research Empirical designs New York Oxford University Press 39 53 This chapter provides an overview of ethnographic research applied to English It includes examples from two studies Florio and Clark s The function of writing in an elementary classroom and Lemke and Bridwell s Assessing writing ability an ethnographic study of consultant teacher relationships Lawless E J 1992 Summer I was afraid someone like you an outsider would misunderstand Negotiating interpretive differences between ethnographers and subjects Journal of American Folklore 302 This article looks at the role of the ethnographer in the collection of field research and writing A new approach called reciprocal ethnography allows for interaction with the ethnographer Lazerfeld P F 1972 Qualitative analysis Historical and critical essays Boston Allyn and Bacon This text deals with the issues of qualitative research LeCompte M D Millroy W L Preissle J Ed 1992 The handbook of qualitative research in education San Diego Academic Press This anthology contains 18 essays on qualitative research in education The topics range from the future of qualitative research to issues of validity and subjectivity in qualitative research This text is a good source for those interested in current theories about and research on qualitative research itself Lier L 1988 The classroom and the language learner New York Longman The author argues for collecting and interpreting of classroom data L 2 learning in the presence of only limited knowledge of the process of teaching and learning in second language classrooms This book sets out to define problems of classroom research within second language acquisition study and within social science And it offers a well documented guide for conducting research in the context of the classroom Lincoln Y S Guba E G 1985 Naturalistic inquiry Beverly Hills CA Sage This text outlines the positivist and naturalist research paradigms Linstead S 1993 Jan From postmodern anthropology to deconstructive ethnography Human Relations 97 This article studies the effects of ethnography and postmodern influences on organizations Derridian deconstruction theory is applied in order to get a new angle on social interactions within organizations Manwar A Johnson B D Dunlap E 1994 Qualitative data analysis with hypertext

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  • Consider a Source's Purpose and Audience
    does not identify its Author Consider a Source s Publishing Bias Strategies for Evaluating a Web Site Strategies for Evaluating a Periodical Consider a Source s Publication Medium Questions to Ask about Print Sources Questions to Ask about Electronic Sources Questions to Ask about Field Sources Consider a Source s Publication Date Consider a Source s Degree of Specialization Consider a Source s Role in Your Research Consider a Source s Origins Are they Primary or Secondary Consider a Source s Evidence Is it Accurate Balanced Resources Print Friendly Format About this Guide Contributors Citation Evaluating Sources Consider a Source s Purpose and Audience Understanding the purpose and audience of a source will help determine its usefulness for your research project A general reference source in a library serves a much different purpose than an editorial in a newspaper an advertisement in a magazine or a Web site providing information about a product or service Similarly sources targeting an audience of experts in a particular field contain different kinds of information than those written for a general audience Those written for technical experts assume an audience with a great deal of background knowledge Typically these sources skip general treatments of

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  • Consider a Source's Author(s)
    Publishing Bias Strategies for Evaluating a Web Site Strategies for Evaluating a Periodical Consider a Source s Publication Medium Questions to Ask about Print Sources Questions to Ask about Electronic Sources Questions to Ask about Field Sources Consider a Source s Publication Date Consider a Source s Degree of Specialization Consider a Source s Role in Your Research Consider a Source s Origins Are they Primary or Secondary Consider a Source s Evidence Is it Accurate Balanced Resources Print Friendly Format About this Guide Contributors Citation Evaluating Sources Consider a Source s Author s Writers use sources for a variety of purposes to support a point to illustrate a range of positions on an issue and to show that they are not alone in their opinions to name a few With rare exceptions such as when you are illustrating divergent opinions the authors you cite should be reliable and trustworthy A Note on Field Sources When conducting field research you are actually selecting the sources or authors of your information In particular in the case of an interview you select a recognized authority to provide you with specific data and informed opinions on your subject Similarly but in a more

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  • Who is the Author? What are His or Her Credentials?
    Degree of Specialization Consider a Source s Role in Your Research Consider a Source s Origins Are they Primary or Secondary Consider a Source s Evidence Is it Accurate Balanced Resources Print Friendly Format About this Guide Contributors Citation Evaluating Sources Who is the Author What are His or Her Credentials Check the library catalog also to see if the author you are considering is listed in any specialized reference works such as Who s Who Contemporary Authors or American Men and Women of Science Inclusion in reference works such as these does not necessarily guarantee their trustworthiness but it will provide you with a more informed idea of the author s background When your source is a weekly newsmagazine like Time Newsweek or U S News World Report the author is likely to be a reporter who is neither famous nor world renowned Though weekly news magazines do occasionally feature articles by experts and all have solid reputations for careful fact checking and presenting fair ranges of opinion be aware that some select facts that mirror the opinion of their editors When getting information from the World Wide Web online newsgroups and certain electronic databases it may be difficult

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  • What are the Author's Professional Affiliations?
    Author Consider a Source s Publishing Bias Strategies for Evaluating a Web Site Strategies for Evaluating a Periodical Consider a Source s Publication Medium Questions to Ask about Print Sources Questions to Ask about Electronic Sources Questions to Ask about Field Sources Consider a Source s Publication Date Consider a Source s Degree of Specialization Consider a Source s Role in Your Research Consider a Source s Origins Are they Primary or Secondary Consider a Source s Evidence Is it Accurate Balanced Resources Print Friendly Format About this Guide Contributors Citation Evaluating Sources What are the Author s Professional Affiliations Expect differences in opinion among leaders of various political parties or types of organizations An editorial about preserving wetlands written by the president of the Sierra Club will be a lot different than one written by a lobbyist for a real estate organization Although it s rare to find a complete listing of an author s affiliations many periodicals both in print and online provide brief descriptions of an article or column s author Check these descriptions for clues about an author s affiliations If you are interested in learning more about them consider searching the World Wide Web An

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