Methods of Qualitative of Data Collection

Decent Essays


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Data Collection Methods
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ualitative researchers typically rely on four methods for gathering information: (a) participating in the setting, (b) observing directly,
(c) interviewing in depth, and (d) analyzing documents and material culture. These form the core of their inquiry—the staples of the diet. Several secondary and specialized methods of data collection supplement them. This chapter provides a brief discussion of the primary and the secondary methods to be considered in designing a qualitative study.
This discussion does not replace the many excellent, detailed references on data collection (we refer to several at the end of this chapter). Its purpose is to guide the
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In this way, the researcher is able to discover the recurring patterns of behavior and relationships. After these patterns are identified and described through early analysis of field notes, checklists become more appropriate and context-sensitive. Focused observation then is used at later stages of the study, usually to see, for example, if analytic themes explain behavior and relationships over a long time or in a variety of settings. Observation is a fundamental and highly important method in all qualitative inquiry. It is used to discover complex interactions in natural social settings. Even in studies using in-depth interviews, observation plays an important role as the researcher notes the interviewee’s body language and affect in addition to her words. It is, however, a method that requires a great deal of the researcher. Discomfort, uncomfortable ethical dilemmas and even danger, the difficulty of managing a relatively unobtrusive role, and the challenge of identifying the big picture while finely observing huge amounts of fast-moving and complex behavior are just a few of the challenges.
Whether a researcher is simply observing from afar or finding a participant-observer role in the setting, some contexts may present dangers. Street ethnography is a term that describes research settings which can be dangerous, either physically or emotionally, such as working with the police (as Manning did, described in
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