Creswell Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design Notes

Creswell, J. W. (1998). Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five traditions. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Chapter 1:

  • The research design is the entire process of conceptualizing the study to the writing of the report.
  • Approaches can be integrated.
  • “Qualitative inquiry represents a legitimate mode of social and human science exploration without apology or comparisons to quantitative research (p. 9).”

Chapter 2:

  • Definition of Qualitative Research: “Qualitative research is an inquiry process of understanding based on distinct methodological traditions of inquiry that explore a social or human problem. The researcher builds a complex, holistic picture, analyzes words, reports detailed views of informants, and conducts the study in a natural setting (p. 15).”
  • When writing the report of a qualitative study, the researcher is part of it often using the first person pronoun of I.
  • When writing a journal article, the author may choose to begin and/or end with vignettes.
  • Quality qualitative research:

    • Has rigorous data collection methods. When discussing these methods, the researcher can/should include the amount of time spent in the field as well as a table/chart that visually displays the methods and descriptions of methods.
    • Remains true to the fundamentals of qualitative research (researcher as data collection instrument, evolving research design, inclusion and presentation of multiple realities, focus on the participants’ views).
    • Describe a single idea first.
    • Verifies procedures using acceptable methods as accepted in qualitative research
    • Analyzing using multiple layers of abstraction. Clearly explaining this analysis to the reader.
    • The writing conveys the complexity of the research and engages the reader.

Chapter 3:

  • Case studies are bounded systems.
  • The focus of each tradition:

    • Biography: the story of one person’s life
    • Phenomenology: understanding a phenomenon
    • Grounded theory: theory development
    • Ethnography: a portrait
    • Case study: examining a case

Chapter 4:

  • Phenomenology has very specific procedures derived from its history in psychology and sociology. The analysis requires reduction and bracketing – a separation of the researcher’s experiences from the data. Social phenomenology examines how everyday citizens make sense of their everyday lives, which requires the analysis of speech. Phenomenology is understanding how people make sense of a certain experience or phenomenon.
  • Grounded theory:

    • Data typically consists of interviews and field notes, which are then used to generate theory through coding and categorizing. Interview data needs to involve saturation before termination of data collection.
    • Observation and document analysis are atypical forms of data collection for grounded theory, but they are used.
    • Participants are selected using theoretical sampling. Analysis happens the moment data is collected.
    • Analysis usually involves constant comparison.
    • Data analysis begins with open coding and then the creation of categories and subcategories based on the results from the open coding. Properties of categories are identified. Axial coding follows. Axial coding involves the reorganization of data based on the open coding and is presented in the format of a coding paradigm or logic diagram. From there, a central phenomenon is identified. The researcher then looks for causal conditions, strategies, the context and intervening conditions, and the consequences.
    • Sometimes a conditional matrix is used to describe the social, historical, and economic influences on the phenomenon.
  • Ethnography:

    • Prolonged experience in the field
    • Extensive participant observation and interviews
    • Immersion of the researcher
    • Attempt to understand the meanings of behavior, language, and interaction
    • The individuals studied must share a culture.
    • Involves gatekeepers – those who hold access, key informants – those who provide important insight, reciprocity – each party benefitting from the research, reactivity – the researcher’s impact on the site/culture/context, and disclosure to avoid deception.
    • Includes a description, analysis, and interpretation of the culture-sharing group
    • Create a holistic (well rounded, thorough description) cultural portrait
  • Case Study

    • Purposeful sampling because of ordinary, accessible, or unusual cases
    • Holistic analysis or embedded analysis
    • Creates a detailed description of the case. Thematic analysis occurs. The researcher then makes assertions about the case.
    • Context is rich and embedded. It cannot be separated.
    • In multiple cases studies or a collective case study (Stake, 1994): With-in case analysis happens first where through the detailed description of the case themes are identified. Then these themes within the cases are compared to the themes in the other cases called a cross-case analysis.
    • The report includes a section called, “Lessons Learned” from the case.

      • The more cases used, the less the depth. Creswell recommends no more than four cases in a collective case study.

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Chapter 5:

Philosophical Assumptions:

  1. Ontological: the assumptions the researcher has about reality and that reality is a construction of multiple realities. In order to frame these multiple realities, the researcher uses quotations, themes, and various perspectives from the informants.
  2. Epistemological: the distance between the participants and the researcher. In qualitative research, the goal is to minimize this distance.
  3. Axiological: values that are present in the study. How does the researcher influence the study? Talks about bias that is present in the study.
  4. Rhetorical: the focus is on the rhetoric and the rhetoric shapes the study. The rhetoric comes from the traditions of inquiry. Ex. internal validity, external validity, generalizability (quantitative research), and objectivity vs. credibility, transferability, dependability, and confirmability (qualitative research). In a qualitative study, the terms come from the informants.
  5. Methodological: how the study is conceptualized. Most is inductive in qualitative research except for grounded theory which begins inductively and then becomes deductive

Ideological Perspectives are things like positivism, post modernism, feminism, critical theory, etc.

  • Ethnography and phenomenology use theory in the before stages of the research process. Both bring a strong lens through which the data will be viewed.
  • Biography and case study use theory in the middle because some studies have relied heavily on theory in the beginning and others have relied heavily on theory at the end.
  • Grounded theory is at the after stages of the research process because theory is produced from the data. The purpose is to generate a theory.