What examiners like in a qualitative thesis how software can help us deliver it
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What examiners like in a qualitative thesis & how software can help us deliver it . Helen Marshall Strategies in Qualitative Research Conference2006. Research question. what are the implicit rules examiners apply as they determine whether a qualitative research thesis counts as good enough?.

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What examiners like in a qualitative thesis how software can help us deliver it l.jpg

What examiners like in a qualitative thesis & how software can help us deliver it

Helen Marshall

Strategies in Qualitative Research Conference2006


Research question l.jpg
Research question can help us deliver it

what are the implicit rules examiners apply as they determine whether a qualitative research thesis counts as good enough?


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Literature suggests: can help us deliver it

  • We know little about how examiners think

  • They want to pass candidates

  • They are very concerned about communication.

  • Methodology may be an indirect concern


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Tapping examiners’ opinions can help us deliver it

  • In 2002-3, participants sought from two email lists, 30 emails to individuals and soliciting within RMIT

  • 4 examiners from the lists (RL participants), + 4 from individual invitations, (PI participants) + 3 = 11 examiners

  • 38 codes eventually collapsed into three trees and a model.

  • A small number of responses skewed to one institution , but a useful cross section of experienced examiners.


What examiners like l.jpg
What examiners like can help us deliver it

  • The basic elements are good analysis, good writing and coherence.

  • They are linked in complex ways


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Elements of good analysis can help us deliver it


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Data don’t just sit there can help us deliver it

  • Interviewee 1 wants to see how the researcher sought for meaning in the data

  • Interviewee 2 wants subtlety and commentary not simply great slabs of data

  • Interviewee 3: candidates should abstract from the data while respecting it.

  • I get excited by people turning something on its head and looking at it in a really new way (RL 3)


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Good analysis is reflective:1 can help us deliver it

  • Good researchers are reflective …Readings are always tenuous amorphous & dynamic & good researchers step beyond their own reading... To be valid the interpretation must be justified reflexively. (Interviewee 3)

  • attempts to unearth different perspectives; recognition of author's own perspective and how this has influenced the way the thesis has been approached, the analysis and the writing up; (RL 3)

  • balance between respecting respondents’ narratives and chopping them up for analysis (interviewee 1)


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‘Sensitive’ = ‘reflective’. can help us deliver it

Deviant cases suggest reflection

  • I must see some evidence that there were some instances or cases that (at least when first noted) did not fit or were a problem. These "contrary cases" need to be treated to a cognitive and data based evaluation. If there are questions "left over", that is fine; they simply have to be dealt with in some logical manner.(RL4)

  • while I am alert to implicit discontinuities, I look for the candidate to be so self-aware that the links are explicit. (PI 1)

  • Candidates must ‘think what they do’ and communicate what they think.


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Elements of writing can help us deliver it


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Good writing can help us deliver it

  • ‘good read’ means an authentic voice, Goodresearch has an assuredness …coming from intensive involvement and the researcher feeling ‘you KNOW’. (Interview 2)

  • They have injected their own narrative so you have a sense of them not just representing literature and data but actively creating their own story.(Interview 1)


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Good writing: presentation can help us deliver it

  • Probably because I am a grounded theory devotee', I like to see visual representation of the data...diagrams, pictures, etc. To me these are more evidence that the student has done the "cognitive work" involved in a qualitative research project. (RL 4)


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Elements of coherence can help us deliver it


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Coherence - can help us deliver it Well theorised and well supported

  • insights should be picked up and integrated into the theoretical debates (RL1)

  • I want to see the relationship between the analysis and the conclusions of the research. I make a distinction between data and evidence. Only some data is evidence for the conclusions. I want to see how the analysis led tothe conclusions. (PI)

  • What is being analysed? Is there plenty of evidence that the data is …on target as far as answering the question posed…. I then look for clear evidence that the ideas presented are in fact "grounded" in the data. (RL 4)


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Methodological coherence can help us deliver it

  • What is the researcher trying to find out about and in what form? I then look at the research method used and think about the appropriateness from my knowledge of the method. I am looking for a match between the kinds of issues being investigated and the characteristics of the method being used…Next I look for evidence that what the researcher has actually done is consistent with their theoretical description of their method. (PI1)

  • the main problems associated with qualitative analysis need to be identified; whether qualitative data is to be quantified or not (and connection back to approach and research strategy) (PI 2)


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Overall coherence can help us deliver it

  • On reflection, I guess coherence across goals, espoused method, method in practice, analysis, outcomes and impact on knowledge field is uppermost in my mind.(PI 1)

  • Good theses often have less clear distinction between data and theory than poor ones so they are good narratives…makesthe thesis more readable and links are clearer. Good theses contain a lot of the student’s own voice. (Interviewee 1)


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How can software help? can help us deliver it

  • Software helps us report in how we ‘think what we do’ (via memos, models, audit trails, screenshots).

  • Write within your project (As a memo if necessary).

  • Zoom between data and theory within the project (quick checks, searching, using your coded literature).

  • When writing zoom in on the paragraph at hand with data (nodes/ searches?), then out to the chapter structure (models?) N7 all in the project. NVIVO2 export your model to word.


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Examiners want: can help us deliver it

  • Analysis not mere description

  • Showing your workings

  • A good story in an authentic voice

  • A coherent thesis

  • Examiners want to pass you, and sensible use of software can help them do so!


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