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Developing Research Skills and Approaches: Journaling

Day One Dialogue

Me: I have tried to differentiate between qualitative and quantitative research, but I am still confused regarding the use of either or both of them. During this semester, as we are focusing on qualitative methods of research, I am unable to identify the research approach categorically. Since they are different research approaches, researchers need to know when they can use qualitative, quantitative, and mixed research approaches (Byrne, 2002). Moreover, I need to know if it is possible to switch between qualitative and quantitative approaches. I need the exposition of these approaches in research so that I can use them appropriately.

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Supervisor: As Janesick (2011) states that journaling enables researchers to reflect on their progress, it is imperative that you should be keen. Qualitative and qualitative approaches of research are unique approaches that are dependent on the nature of the data. Creswell (2009) asserts states that a study that deals with data in narrative form are qualitative research, while the one that deals with data in numerical form is quantitative research. Research that deals with both narrative and numerical data use a mixed approach. In this view, the nature of data determines the research approach that one needs to use. Moreover, I have understood that it is possible to switch between qualitative and quantitative approaches by coding and re-coding data. According to Bernard and Ryan (2010), recording and coding aid in the transformation of data from qualitative to quantitative form and vice versa.

Reflection

The journal experience is important in research because it enables one to seek clarification about some issues or concepts that are not clear. In this case, differentiation of qualitative and quantitative approaches is imperative. I have noted that a qualitative approach explores a given concept or phenomenon using narrative data. In contrast, qualitative describes a given concept or phenomenon using numerical data.

In this, the nature of data mainly differentiates qualitative and quantitative data. Some concepts or phenomena of study have both narrative and numerical data, and thus the appropriate approach of research is a mixed method, which entails the application of both qualitative and quantitative approaches. Since qualitative and qualitative data share some similarities, it is possible to switch from one to the other. Hence, the journaling experience of the research approach is very clear it expounds on the way of dealing with varied forms of data in research.

Day Two Dialogue

Me: I have learned that research questions and hypotheses are significant elements in research. Owing to their significance, I need to have an in-depth understanding of these elements so that I can apply them accurately in qualitative research. Although I know how to answer research questions and test hypotheses, I still have difficulties in formulating them. The big challenge is in the realignment of questions and hypotheses so that they can focus on the same issue that is answerable and testable (Maxwell, 2005).

Supervisor: Indeed, research questions and hypotheses are great elements as they provide the bearing of a study. Without research questions and hypotheses, it is impossible to focus on one issue and arrive at an appropriate conclusion (White, 2009). Research questions require specific and concise answers. Moreover, hypotheses should not be obvious since they must assert a certain position or point of view.

Reflection

Research questions are an integral part of the research as they direct a study. In the course of my studies, I have known that a research question should be complex, clear, concise, and uncertain. The complexity enables research questions to touch on many issues, while uncertainty makes the research questions to be novel. In the element of hypothesis, a study should have a tentative answer to the research questions. I understand well that hypotheses provide probable answers, descriptions, and explanations of a certain phenomenon or a concept. Research questions and hypotheses direct the research as they seek a definite conclusion. Overall, researchers should be keen when formulating research questions and hypotheses for they determine the context of research.

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Day Three Dialogue

Me: As numerous research designs that are applicable in qualitative research exist, it is difficult to choose the appropriate design and apply it in a study. Creswell (2013) provides five approaches of research, namely, phenomenology, ethnography, case study, narrative study, and grounded theory. How does each of the approaches define a research design that is appropriate for a given study?

Supervisor: Research design is an integral aspect of qualitative design because it dictates the methodology of research. Laurel (2003) argues that phenomenology is an approach that focuses on a certain phenomenon with the objective of describing it, while ethnography is an approach that entails the examination of certain phenomena under ethnic conditions. Additionally, Punch (2005) asserts that a case study involves a study that focuses on an event or specific phenomenon that is unique. The narrative approach deals with the analysis of stories, whereas grounded theory seeks to validate a given hypothesis and formulate a theory (Urquhart, 2012). These approaches provide qualitative researchers with an array of research designs that they can choose and apply in research

Reflection

Research design is the heart of research because it determines the feasibility and validity of findings. I have known that phenomenology, ethnography, case study, narrative study, and grounded theory are flexible research designs that allow qualitative researchers to conduct interviews, take part in participant observation, and use questionnaires. Each of these approaches provides a flexible methodology that enhances the validity of qualitative research. Hence, I understand that the formulations of interview questions, observation schedules, and questionnaires are dependent on the research approach and research design.

References

Bernard, H., & Ryan, G. (2010). Analyzing Qualitative Data: Systematic Approaches. New York: SAGE Publisher.

Byrne, D. (2002). Interpreting Quantitative Data. New York: SAGE Publisher.

Creswell, J. (2009). Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design: Choosing Among Five Approaches. New York: SAGE Publisher.

Creswell, J. (2013). Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches. New York: SAGE Publisher.

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Janesick, V. J. (2011). ‘Stretching’ exercises for qualitative researchers (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.

Laurel, B. (2003). Design Research: Methods and Perspectives. London: MIT Press.

Maxwell, J. (2005). Qualitative Research Design: An Interactive Approach. New York: SAGE Publisher.

Punch, K. (2005). Introduction to Social Research: Quantitative and Qualitative. New York: SAGE Publisher.

Urquhart, C. (2012). Grounded Theory for Qualitative Research: A Practical Guide. London: SAGE Publisher.

White, P. (2009). Developing research questions: a guide for social scientists. Chicago: Palgrave Macmillan.

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