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Data Collection and Management Techniques of a Qualitative Research Plan

Introduction

Data collection is an integral step in research because it determines the reliability and validity of data. The methods of performing data collection in both qualitative and quantitative research are similar, but the nature of the data is different. In this view, the validity and reliability of data are common issues that researchers are striving to overcome (Golafshani, 2003). Hence, one way of enhancing the validity and reliability of data is through the process of data collection. The appropriateness of the data collection method is crucial because it influences the validity and reliability of data in research. After data collection, the management of data is essential in qualitative studies.

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Data management entails the preparation of data for purposes of analysis (Creswell & Miller, 2000). Fundamentally, data management enhances data usage in performing numerous statistical analyses and in deriving meaningful outcomes. In this view, this research paper recommends interview method in the collection of data and the application of NVivo statistical software in the management of data in the proposed study entitled Diversifying Funding Sources for Financial Sustainability: The Case of Clayton County Library System (CCLS), Georgia

Data Collection

Since the proposed study seeks to establish the sources of funds that enhance the sustainability of the Clayton County Library System, the appropriate method of data collection is the interview method. The proposed study requires information from the librarians and library users, and thus interview method is an appropriate method of collecting information from them. Opdenakker (2006) argues that interview is an advantageous method of data collection in qualitative research because it allows researchers to probe interviewees and derive optimal information that they require.

The librarians have appropriate information about the sustainability of funds that the library receives, and therefore, they can easily identify sources of funds that the library requires and rate their sustainability. Likewise, as the library users have credible information about the quality of services that they receive from the library, the use of the interview would enable them to rate the quality of services that the library offers. Hence, the interview is the appropriate way of collecting data from the librarians and the library users.

The use of the interview method in data collection has both legal and ethical implications. Parry and Mauthner (2004) argue that the collection of data from an organization has legal and ethical implications because the data do not belong to individuals, even though they work in the organization. The legal issue emerges because employees might reveal sensitive or confidential information about the library. Kelder (2005) asserts researchers need to seek permission before using data from other entities to avoid legal implications. In this view, it is illegal for librarians to divulge the financial records of the library without the mandate of the library as an entity.

Legally, the librarians and the library users are different entities in that none should divulge information of the other without a clear mandate. Ethical issues also arise among the interviewees regarding participation in the proposed study. The conflict of interest could emerge, as each of the librarians might want to take part in the interview. To prevent the biases that would occur due to conflict of interests, the proposed study would provide an equal chance of participation to all librarians so that they could give their opinions and perceptions. Moreover, among the librarians and the library users, the issue of confidentiality is an ethical issue.

Stiles and Petrila (2011) cite confidentiality as a common ethical issue in qualitative research because it involves humans. Thus, the proposed research would seek informed consent from the participants and dispel their fears. This would eliminate biases that the participants might have concerning the intention of interviews and data collection.

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The questions that the proposed study would ask to revolve around the sources of funds, sustainability of funds, and quality of services that the library offers. Leuzinger (2013) argues that the sustainability of funding should be in tandem with the quality of services, which libraries offer. As an interview protocol, the questions would probe demographic information of the participants such as age, education level, profession, experience, and roles. The second aspect of the protocol would focus on the issue of the funding deficit that the library experiences because it is a major issue affecting libraries across the world (Holt, 2005).

On the third aspect, the interview protocol would examine the quality of services that it provides to the library users. Since the diversification of sources of funds is an issue, which squarely lies in the purview of librarians, the interview would direct questions regarding sources of funds and sustainability to the librarians and not the library users. Ultimately, each of the interviewees would provide their comments concerning the diversification of funds and the sustainability of the services in the library.

Data Management

Data management is an integral aspect of research because it aids in the organization of raw data collected in the research. Given that qualitative data deals with abstract data, it requires organization. Johnson, Dunlap, and Benoit (2010) recommend the organization of data into themes to enhance their analysis. In this view, the thematic organization of data according to the themes and statements obtained from interviews summarizes and simplifies diverse forms of data. Additionally, coding of data provides a way of data management because it groups similar data and assigns a certain code, which makes the analysis of data quite easy.

Jansen (2010) states that “the ruling principle of coding is to create consistent, well-defined, and well-ordered scheme of objects, dimensions, and categories, which should all be legitimized by their relationships to the research aims” (14). Therefore, the proposed study would manage its data using themes and schemes, which categorize diverse forms of responses.

NVivo is statistical software that is applicable to the analysis of qualitative data, such as interviews, notes, audio, video, and pictures. According to Welsh (2010), Nvivo enables qualitative researchers to organize massive qualitative data into themes quite easily. The ability of Nvivo to create and organize qualitative data by creating themes enhances the analysis of data because it indicates patterns of categories or themes. Richards (2002) argues that NVivo eliminates manual coding of data and thus saves time. Therefore, the proposed study would collect data through interviews and input them into the NVivo to create themes of the study.

Conclusion

Data collection and management are significant processes in research. A method of data collection varies according to the nature of the study. Since the proposed study seeks to identify diverse sources of funds, which would enhance the financial sustainability of the library, the appropriate method of data collection is the interview method. Through the interview method of data collection, the proposed study should resolve legal and ethical issues regarding data ownership and confidentiality. In data management, the proposed study should organize data into themes using NVivo.

References

Creswell, W. & Miller, L. (2000). Determining validity in qualitative inquiry. Theory into Practice, 39(3), 124-131.

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Golafshani, N. (2003). Understanding reliability and validity in qualitative research. The Qualitative Report, 8(4), 597-607.

Holt, G.E. (2005). Getting beyond the pain: Understanding and dealing with declining library funding. Managing Library Finances, 18(4), 185-190.

Jansen, H. (2010). The Logic of Qualitative Survey Research and its Position in the Field of Social Research Methods. Qualitative Social Research, 11(2), 1-17.

Johnson, B., Dunlap, E., & Benoit, E. (2010). Structured Qualitative Research: Organizing “Mountains of Words” for Data Analysis, both Qualitative and Quantitative. Substance Use & Misuse, 45(5), 648-670.

Kelder, J. (2005). Using Someone Else’s Data: Problems, Pragmatics, and Provisions. Qualitative Social Research, 6(1), 1-13.

Leuzinger, J. (2013). Reducing service points in the academic library: How to provide quality customer service in the face of budget cuts. College & Research Libraries News, 74(10), 530-533.

Opdenakker, R. (2006). Advantages and Disadvantages of four interview techniques in qualitative research. Qualitative Social Research, 7(4), 11-27.

Parry, O., & Mauthner, N. (2004). Whose Data Are They Anyway? Practical, Legal, and Ethical Issues in Archiving Qualitative Research Data. Sociology, 38(1), 139-152.

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Richards, T. (2002). An intellectual history of NUD* IST and NVivo. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 5(2), 199-214.

Stiles, G. & Petrila, J. (2011). Research and confidentiality: Legal issues and risk management strategies. Psychology, Public Policy, & Law, 17(3), 333-356.

Welsh, E. (2002). Dealing with Data: Using NVivo in the Qualitative Data Analysis Process. Qualitative Social Research, 3(2), 1-15.

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