Qualitative Method Writing Guideline
There is not a single qualitative method in the social sciences and there are a number of research approaches under the umbrella of “qualitative methods". Various disciplines of social sciences tend to have different approaches to best practices in qualitative research.
In general, ethnography, phenomenology, grounded theory, action researches, case studies, narrative designs come to mind when considering qualitative research. There are also different classifications of different approaches. In qualitative research, if justification of the research’s approach and design can be done and role of the researcher can be explained in detail, the research will better reflect the nature of the qualitative method and analysis.
In this context, Qualitative Social Sciences has prepared a good practice guide for studies that prioritize qualitative approach. These studies might be qualitative or mixed methods with a specific focus on qualitative analysis.
Methodology and Methods
In qualitative research, the questions of 'why', ‘how” and “what” are asked in order to grasp the aim, source and process the phenomenon that is under investigation. In this context, the methodology of the research should give an answer to the following questions:
1. Is the research method appropriate for the nature of the question (s) asked,?
2. Does the research seek to understand social processes or social structures and / or elucidate subjective experiences or meanings?
Is the research question consistent with the research design adopted for the method? (For example,, a researcher who has adopted a phenomenological pattern should have a question about how a phenomenon is perceived and experienced?
Rationale and Justification of the Methodology
All articles should include a method section that specifies the method of selecting the working group / participants and the analysis approach / pattern.
The key here is to explain why qualitative research is preferred. Therefore, justification of using a qualitative approach should be indicated clearly.
Selection and justification of qualitative approach and research design should be discussed in this section. What aspects of the research design and approach will address to the research question should be explained.
Similarly, the chosen data collection tool (interview, observation, documents) and the reason why should be discussed in this section.
Working Group / Participant Selection
The choice of participants should be clearly explained and theoretically verified.Therefore, the research should answer to the following questions:
1. Why these specific working group are selected?
2. Where the research was conducted (region, city, place, etc.)?
3. Why this research site was chosen?
The process of accessing data sources and the unexpected situations in the process should also be discussed. Significant difficulties in accessing data should be explained (such as not responding, refusing to participate).
Following points should also be carefully considered:
1. How was the data collected and recorded?
2. Has the research stated their sampling strategy and justification?
3. Who collected the data?
4. When was the data collected?
5. How was the research explained to the participants?
Details of the official ethics approval (eg University Ethics Committee) should be provided in the main body of the article. If authors do not need ethical approval, it should be explained. How informed consent was obtained (written or verbal) should be discussed.
Ethical concerns that arise during the research should also be discussed.
The chosen data analysis strategy (thematic analysis, content analysis, discourse analysis, semiotic analysis, etc.) and the reason why should be stated. The justification of data analysis strategy should be made explicit. In this context, the process of thematizing, coding and categorizing should be clearly indicated.
In the process of analyzing qualitative data, analysis can be performed by using programs such as MAXQDA, NVivo, Atlas.ti or without using a program. If a program is used in data analysis, how it is used should be explained. Otherwise, how data analysis is conducted should be stated.
The appropriate criteria of trustworthiness should also be included in this section:Does the research specify the criteria of trustworthiness?
• Does it include triangulation?
• Does it include expert opinion and participant confirmation?
• Have the researchers examined their roles, their possible biases and their impact on the research?
• Has the researcher considered the validity and quality of the research/analysis?
Presentation of Findings and Data
Information about context and participants should be provided.
Quotations, field notes and other data should be defined in a way that allows the reader to evaluate the data used.
Distinctions between data and interpretations should be clear.
It is important to evaluate the social context of the research findings.
If the presentation of the findings is realized in a purely descriptive manner, the relation of the findings between concepts and social context must be realized in the discussion section.