Collecting Self-Report Data. Dr. Aidah Abu Elsoud Alkaissi An-Najah National University Faculty of Nursing. S elf-report is the most widely used data collection method by both qualitative and quantitative nurse researchers.
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Dr. Aidah Abu Elsoud Alkaissi
An-Najah National University
Faculty of Nursing
Self-report is the most widely used data collection method by both qualitative and quantitative nurse researchers.
to define the important dimensions of phenomenon and to elaborate on what is relevant to them, rather than being guided by investigators’ a priori notions (A belief or opinion) of relevance.
Researchers using unstructured interviews do not begin with a series of prepared questions because they do not yet know what to ask or even where to begin.
Researchers using a completely unstructured approach often begin by informally asking a broad question (sometimes called a grand tour (A trip with visits to various places of interest for business) question) relating to the research topic, such as,
AIDS?” Subsequent questions are more focused and are guided by responses to the broad question.
The initial broad question is posed (To put forward; present) , perhaps asking,“Where should I begin?” Respondents should be encouraged to begin wherever they wish.
Van Manen (1990) provides suggestions for guiding a phenomenological interview to produce rich descriptions of the experience under study:
smell(ed), how they sound(ed), etc.”
Kahn (2000), discussing unstructured interviews in hermeneutic phenomenological studies, aims for interviews that resemble conversations.
Repeated interviews over time with the same participant are essential in this prospective approach.
In such focused or semistructured interviews, researchers prepare in advance a written topic guide, which is a list of areas or questions to be covered with each respondent.
In preparing the list of questions, care needs to be taken to order questions in a logical sequence, perhaps chronologically, or perhaps from the general to the specific. (However, interviewers need to be attentive because sometimes respondents spontaneously give information about questions that are later on the list.)
In deciding whether to use a semistructured or unstructured interview, it is important to consider not only the research tradition, but also the state of knowledge on a topic.
popular in the study of health problems.
Typically, the people selected for a group are a fairly homogeneous group, to promote a comfortable group dynamic.
group size for focus groups is 6 to 12 people, but
Côté-Arsenault and Morrison-Beedy (1999) advocate smaller groups of about 5 participants when the topic is emotionally charged or sensitive.
TIP: In recruiting group members, it is usually wise to recruit one or two more people than is considered optimal, because of the risk of no-shows.
The setting for the focus group sessions should be selected carefully and, ideally, should be a neutral one.
Moderators play a critical role in the success of focus group interviews.
An important job of moderators is to solicit input from all group members, and not let a few vocal people dominate the discussion.
A major advantage of a group format is that it is efficient—researchers obtain the viewpoints of many individuals in a short time.
Another possible concern is that the dynamics of the session may foster a group culture that could inhibit individual expression as “group think” takes hold.
The diaries may be completely unstructured; for example, individuals who have undergone an organ transplantation could be asked simply to spend 10 to 15 minutes a day jotting down their thoughts and feelings.
Although diaries are very useful means of learning about ongoing experiences, one limitation is that they can be used only by people with adequate literacy skills, although there are examples of studies in which diary entries were audiotaped rather than written out.
An important issue is that researchers and respondents should have a common vocabulary.
Researchers usually prepare for the interview by developing (mentally or in writing) the broad questions to be asked (or at least the initial questions, in unstructured interviews).
TIP: Memorize the central questions if you have written them out, so that you will be able to maintain eye contact with participants.
present oneself—as a researcher, as a nurse, as an ordinary person as much like participants as possible, as a humble “learner,” and so on (Fontana & Frey, 1994).
On the other hand, people frequently defer to those who are viewed as having more education or more expertise.
Another part of the preparation involves decisions about places where the interviews can be conducted.
When in-home interviews are not desired by participants (e.g., if they are worried that the interview would be overheard by household members and prefer more privacy), it is wise to have alternative suggestions, such as in an office, in a coffee shop, and so on.
For interviews done in the field, researchers must anticipate the equipment and supplies that will be needed.
It may be necessary to bring forms of identification to assure participants of the legitimacy of the visit.
Another part of this process is using the first few minutes for pleasantries and ice-breaking exchanges of conversation before actual questioning begins.
TIP: If possible, place the actual tape recording equipment on the floor or somewhere out of sight.
Respondents will not share much information with interviewers if they do not trust them.
The most critical interviewing skill for indepth interviews is being a good listener.
The interviewer’s job is to listen intently to the respondents’ stories, a task that is often exhausting.
TIP: In-depth interviewers must be comfortable with pauses and silences, and should let the pace be determined by respondents.
In-depth interviewers need to be prepared for strong emotions, such as anger, fear, or grief, to surface.
Interviewers may need to manage a number of potential crises during the interviews.
Ifmrespondents are willing, telephones can be controlled by unplugging them or taking the receiver off the hook.
Steps also need to be taken to ensure that the transcription of interviews is done with rigor (Poland, 1995).
TIP: If transcribers need to be hired, transcriptions can be the most expensive part of a study.
available to help with transcribing interviews.
On the other hand, qualitative methods are extremely time-consuming and demanding of researchers’ skills in analyzing and interpreting the resulting data.