Qualitative Investigations: Data Collection And Management Methods Essay Samples
In qualitative research, the most widely used data collection techniques are observations, interviews, and document reviews. According to Thomas, Nelson, and Silverman (2010), the data-collecting procedures are categorized into audiovisual materials, observations, documents, and interviews. However, the researcher should not expect such methods to yield data rapidly because the data gathering is often time intensive (Thomas, Nelson, & Silverman, 2010). Therefore, interviews and observations should be conducted slowly but efficiently in order to yield useful information. After the data gathering, the investigator should perform data analysis with the objective of understanding the data. Effective data management requires the use of computer-assisted programs such as NVivo.
Data collection methods
In qualitative investigations, the most suitable data gathering approaches are interviews and observations. The person-to-person interview is most prevalent; however, focus groups and group interviews are also conducted. In qualitative research, the highly structured interviews are used to collect sociodemographic information. In most studies, however, interviews are less structured and open-ended (Thomas, Nelson, & Silverman, 2010). Usually, the interviewer asks the participants similar questions, but the order, wording, and follow-up questions may differ considerably. Therefore, good interviews require experience and skill. For example, the researcher should create rapport with the participants. Such an approach allows the respondents to trust the researcher and, hence, describe their thoughts freely (Thomas, Nelson, & Silverman, 2010).
Digital recorders are the common methods of gathering interview data because they preserve the interview’s verbal aspect for later analysis. Some respondents may appear nervous and hesitant to talk in front of a recorder. However, the uneasiness often fades in a short time. The primary drawback experienced during the recording is equipment malfunctioning (Thomas, Nelson, & Silverman, 2010). Hence, one should use fresh batteries and ensure that the recorder is operating satisfactorily before commencing the interview. Nevertheless, video recording is the best approach because it preserves the verbal aspects, as well as the nonverbal behavior. Gibbs, Friese, and Mangabeira (2002) argue that the use of video technology ameliorates data collection. The drawback, however, is that the technique can be intrusive to the participants. Consequently, the approach is infrequently utilized. Another technique is the taking of notes during interviews. Usually, note taking may accompany digital recording, particularly when the investigator wishes to note certain points of emphasis. The least preferred method, nonetheless, is attempting to remember and record afterward what the respondent said in the interview. The technique is seldom used because it has numerous drawbacks (Thomas, Nelson, & Silverman, 2010).
Observation in qualitative research involves the spending of adequate time in a particular setting. In this approach, the field notes taken are focused on what is observed. Occasionally, researchers may record notes to determine the meaning of various events. In addition, the note taking helps in answering different research questions during data management. Some investigators use cameras to record the events at the study site. However, the method is rarely used because most researchers prefer the taking of field notes to photography (Thomas, Nelson, & Silverman, 2010).
A significant drawback to observation is the issue of obtrusiveness. For example, the recording of people’s behavior may offend individuals unaware of the researcher’s work. The task of a qualitative investigator, therefore, is to ensure that the participants are accustomed to the researcher. For example, the investigator may visit the site for a few days prior to the initial data collection. Moreover, researchers in artificial settings may utilize observation rooms and one-way mirrors to prevent obtrusiveness (Thomas, Nelson, & Silverman, 2010).
Primarily, qualitative research provides unstructured text-based data. Such textual data may include observation notes and interview transcripts (Wong, 2008). In the present qualitative research plan, data management may refer to the systematic arrangement of observation notes and interview transcripts. The data analysis allows the researcher to understand a particular phenomenon. Qualitative data analysis often involves categorizing or coding the data. Coding implies the subdivision of large amounts of raw data into categories (Wong, 2008). Traditionally, the process of coding was conducted manually using colored pens. However, the advances in software technology have allowed qualitative researchers to use electronic coding techniques. For example, the use of computers has made data organization and storage relatively more manageable and efficient (Wong, 2008).
NVivo is a computer-assisted program that is useful in qualitative data analysis. It enhances qualitative inquiry beyond the sorting, coding, and retrieval of data. Moreover, the software integrates coding with qualitative shaping, linking, and modeling (Wong, 2008). When using the NVivo, the researcher creates a Project aimed at holding the study information. After the project’s establishment, the software displays the Project pad (Wong, 2008). Two key menus, the Node browser and the Document browser, appear on the project pad. The node and document browsers have Attribute features, which help data analysts to investigate data characteristics such as ethnicity, age, and marital status (Wong, 2008).
Qualitative studies often utilize observations and interviews as data collection techniques. Digital recording and the taking of notes are the typical approaches used to record data during interviews. Nevertheless, the taking of field notes is the common data gathering technique used during observations. Obtrusiveness, however, reduces the effectiveness of observations. The data collected through observations and interviews requires analysis to make it useful to the study. Effective management, therefore, can be achieved through computer-assisted programs such as NVivo.
Gibbs, G. R., Friese, S., & Mangabeira, W. C. (2002). The Use of New Technology in Qualitative Research. Introduction to Issue 3(2) of FQS [35 paragraphs]. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 3(2), Art. 8. Retrieved from http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs020287
Thomas, J. R., Nelson, J. K., & Silverman, S. J. (2010). Research methods in physical activity, (6th ed). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
Wong, L. P. (2008). Data analysis in qualitative research: a brief guide to using NVivo. Malaysian Family Physician, 3(1), 14-20. Retrieved from https://www.academia.edu/attachments/32423465/download_file?st=MTQyMTcxMjc0NywxDUuMjMwLjIyMi44NCwxNTg3NDY5Mg%3D%3D&s=swptoolbar&ct=MTQyMTcxMzIxMiwxMTcwNzgsMTU4NzQ2OTI=