Corbin & Strauss Qualitative Research Notes
Corbin, J., & Strauss, A. (2008). Basics of qualitative research: Techniques to developing grounded theory (3rd Ed.). Los Angeles, CA: Sage.
Chapter 1: Introduction
- “Methodology: A way of thinking about and studying social phenomena (p. 1).”
- “Methods: Techniques and procedures for gathering and analyzing data (p. 1).”
- “Philosophical Orientation: A worldview that underlies and informs methodology and methods (p. 1).”
- “Qualitative Analysis: A process of examining and interpreting data in order to elicit meaning, gain understanding, and develop empirical knowledge (p. 1).”
- Dewey and Mead: Pragmatist Philosophy of Knowledge
Ontology: Assumptions About the World
- Since our world is complex, the methodology used to understand our world needs to be equally complex.
- Experience is contextual and cannot nor should not be decontextualized.
- Methodological Implications
Impact of Recent Trends on This Methodology
- Since the researcher and the research process are inseparable, the researcher must engage in self-reflective thought.
- “The analytic process, like any thinking process, should be relaxed, flexible, and driven by insight gained through interaction with data rather than being overly structured and based only on procedures (p. 12).”
Why Do Qualitative Research
- Qualitative researchers are flexible and enjoy ambiguity. To them, the analysis process is a stimulating, mental exercise.
- Qualitative Research: “What it requires, above all, is an intuitive sense of what is going on in the data; trust in the self and the research process; and the ability to remain creative, flexible, and true to the data all at the same time (p. 16).”
Chapter 2: Practical Considerations
- Analysis involves awareness; it is a self-conscious, systematic approach to knowing.
Choosing a Research Problem
Sources of Problems
- Research problems can be assigned or they can come from the literature, life experience, or the research itself.
- Sources of Problems
The Research Question
- Establish boundaries because covering all aspects is impossible.
Framing the Research Question
- “Qualitative studies are usually exploratory and more hypothesis generating rather than testing. Therefore, it is necessary to frame the research question(s) in a manner that provides the investigator with sufficient flexibility and freedom to explore a topic in some depth (p. 25).”
- Other Relevant Points
- Defining Issues
- Observations immerse the researcher in the action.
- Participants have a right to anonymity and confidentiality.
- Reflexivity is the influence of the researcher’s action on the participant’s responses. It’s essentially the researcher’s influence on the research.
- Objectivity in qualitative research does not exist because researchers bring their backgrounds including perspectives, education, knowledge, and bias to the research.
The Nature of Sensitivity
- “Sensitivity stands in contrast to objectivity. It requires that a researcher put him- or herself into the research. Sensitivity means having insight, being tuned in to, being able to pick up on relevant issues, events, and happenings in data. It means being able to present the view of participants and taking the role of the other through immersion in data (p. 32).”
- Sensitivity is an awareness of our own subjectivity.
- “Sensitivity is a fascinating interplay of researcher and data in which understanding of what is being described in the data slowly evolves until finally the researcher can say, “Aha, that is what they are telling me (at least from my understanding (p. 33).”
Making Use of the Technical Literature
- Have an awareness of the literature, but don’t let it inundate you.
- “Bringing the literature into the writing not only demonstrates scholarship, but also allows for extending, validating, and refining knowledge in the field (p. 38).”
- Making Use of the Nontechnical Literature
- Making Use of the Technical Literature
- Theoretical frameworks are conceptual guides. They provide a structure for the study. Theoretical frameworks do not have to begin research in a qualitative study.
- “Sensitivity, or insight into data, is derived through what the researcher brings to the study as well as through immersion in the data during data collection and analysis (p. 41).”
- The research question drives the methods and the methodology.
Chapter 3: Prelude to Analysis
- Analysis is the deconstructing of data in order to make meaning of the concept.
Some Properties of Qualitative Research
Analysis is an Art and Science
- The art of analysis: “The ‘art’ aspect has to do with the creative use of procedures to solve analytic problems and the ability to construct a coherent and explanatory story from data, a story that ‘feels right’ to the researcher (p. 47).”
- The science of qualitative research is the systematic analysis of the data.
- Validating: “Validating here refers more to a checking out of interpretations with participants and against data as the research moves along (p. 48).”
Analysis Involves Interpretation
- Qualitative researchers are the translators of stories between the participants and the audience.
More Than One Story Can Be Derived From Data
- Multiple stories can be told from the same data set based on the lens of the analyst.
- Analysis is an Art and Science
Levels of Analysis
- Superficial (not research)
(arrow down to...)
Concepts Form the Basis of Analysis
- “They represent an analyst’s impressionistic understandings of what is being described in the experiences, spoken words, actions, interactions, problems, and issues expressed by participants (p. 51)”
- Concepts are a grouping mechanism.
Concepts Vary in Levels of Abstraction
- Categories are high-level concepts. Low-level concepts are the details of the higher-level concepts.
- Low-level narrow specific concrete
(arrows down to...)
High-level broad general abstract
- “Taking the time to consider all possible meanings helps researchers to become more aware of their own assumptions and the interpretations they are placing on data (p. 53).”
Aims of Research
- Description is essential for communication.
- The audience determines the style of the writing, which has implications for the amount and kinds of description.
- “It is important to understand that description is the basis for more abstract interpretations of data and theory development, though it may not necessarily lead to theory if that is not the researcher’s goal (p. 54).”
- “Though description is clearly not theory, description is basic to theorizing (p. 54).”
- Conceptual ordering: “…refers to the organization of data into discrete categories (and sometimes ratings) according to their properties and dimensions, then the utilization of description to elucidate those categories (pp. 54-55).”
- “Theorizing is interpretive and entails not only condensing raw data into concepts but also arranging the concepts into a logical, systematic explanatory scheme (p. 56).”
Delineating Context Is an Important Aspect of Analysis
- The data is not devoid of context.
- “Context not only grounds concepts, but also minimizes the chances of distorting meaning and/or misrepresenting intent (p. 57).”
- “Researchers must locate the expressed emotions, feelings, experiences, and actions within the context is which they occurred so that meaning is clear and accurate (p. 57).”
Analysis Is a Process
- “Analysis is a process of generating, developing, and verifying concepts – a process that builds over time and with the acquisition of data (p. 57).”
Analysis Begins With Collection of the First Pieces of Data
- Analysis and data collection occur simultaneously.
- “Being immersed in data analysis during data collection provides a sense of direction, promotes greater sensitivity to data, and enables the researcher to redirect and revise interview questions or observations as he or she proceeds (p. 58).”
The Use of Analytic Tools in Analysis
- “Analytic tools are the mental strategies that researchers use when coding (p. 58).”
- The matching of the analytic tool to the analytic task is dependent upon the comfort of the researcher.
Microanalysis and More General Analysis
- Microanalysis is a more detailed form of open coding.
- Microanalysis often occurs in the beginning as a way of helping the researcher break into the data.
- Purpose of microanalysis: “Its purpose is to generate ideas, to get the researcher deep into the data, and to focus in on pieces of data that seem relevant but whose meaning remains elusive. It also helps to prevent early foreclosure because it forces a researcher to think outside of his or her frame of references (p. 59).”
- Together micro and general analysis help to form a complete analysis of the data.
- “Analysis is the act of giving meaning to data (p. 64).”
- Analysis is the process of deconstructing, examining, conceptualizing, and reconstructing of the data.
Chapter 4: Strategies for Qualitative Data Analysis
- “It involves interacting with data (analysis) using techniques such as asking questions about the data, making comparisons between data, and so on, and in doing so, deriving concepts to stand for those data, then developing those concepts in terms of their properties and dimensions (p. 66).”
- Coding is the process of conceptualizing raw data.
Summary of Purposes of Analytic Tools
Types of Analytic Tools
- Analytic tools are unique to the analyst. The types of tools used depends upon the type of qualitative research and the preference of the researcher.
The Use of Questioning
- Asking questions can eliminate both writer’s and, what I would term, analyst’s block.
- Analysis is not prescribed. (My THOUGHTS – Just as authors are permitted to take literary freedom, researchers have ‘analytic freedom’ (my term)).
- “Being an analyst means using common sense and making choices about when and what bits of data to ask questions about. Analysts have to follow their instincts about what seems important in data and take off from there. There is no right or wrong about analysis. Nor is there a set of rules or procedures that must be followed. Analysis is, for a large part, intuitive and requires trusting the self to make the right decisions (p. 71).”
- Analysts can ask temporal, spatial, technical, and informational questions. These kinds of questions are grouped into three types of questions: sensitizing, theoretical, and practical.
- “As the researcher moves along with analysis, each incident in the data is compared with other incidents for similarities and differences. Incidents found to be conceptually similar are grouped together under a higher-level descriptive concept such as flight (p. 73).”
- Examining the properties and dimensions of concepts result in thick description, concept analysis, and theory development.
- “…comparisons at the property and dimensional (theoretical) level provide persons with a way of knowing or understanding the world around them. People do not invent the world anew each day. Rather, they draw upon what they know to try to understand what they do not know. And, in this way, they discover what is similar and different about each object and thus define them (p. 75).”
- “Theoretical comparisons are tools designed to assist the analyst with arriving at a definition or understanding of some phenomenon by looking at the property and dimensional level (p. 75).”
- Theoretical comparisons are often used when the researcher is stuck.
- Theoretical comparisons are the consideration of the phenomenon in terms of its properties and dimensions.
- Summary of the Use of Comparisons
- Constant Comparisons
Various Meaning of a Word
- Be selective about which words to analyze for various meanings. Don’t take for granted your interpretation of a word’s meaning.
Using the Flip-Flop Technique
- “Flip-flopping consists of turning a concept ‘inside out’ or ‘upside down’ to obtain a different perspective on a phrase or word (p. 79).”
Drawing Upon Personal Experience
- Drawing upon personal experience is used not as data or an imposition on the data but rather as a way to identify other possible meanings.
Waving the Red Flag
- Waving the red flag is a tool to remind the researcher not to assume too much.
Looking at Language
- “When we use the words of respondents as a code we call this an in-vivo code, indicating that the term came out of the data (p. 82).”
- Looking at Emotions That are Expressed
- Looking for Words that Indicate Time
- Thinking in Terms of Metaphors and Similes
Looking for the Negative Case
- The negative case provides alternate explanations, fuller exploration of the concept, and richness in the explanation.
Other Analytic Tools
- Asking “so what” helps uncover meaning.
- Types of Analytic Tools
- “Bias and assumptions are often so deeply ingrained and cultural in nature that analysts often are unaware of their influence during analysis. We find it more helpful to acknowledge our biases and experiences and consciously use experience to enhance the analytic process (p. 85).”