Philosophic Underpinnings of Qualitative Research. Assoc . Prof. Dr. Şehnaz Şahinkarakaş. Main differences between Qualitative and Quantitative Research. Quantitative :
PhilosophicUnderpinnings of QualitativeResearch Assoc. Prof. Dr. Şehnaz Şahinkarakaş
Main differencesbetweenQualitativeandQuantitativeResearch • Quantitative: • Based on observationsthatareconvertedintodiscreteunitsthat can be comparedtootherunitsbyusingstatisticalanalysis. • Based on a positivistposition • Qualitative: • Examinespeople’swordsandactions in narrativeordescriptiveways (closelyrepresentingthesituation as experiencedbytheparticipants) • Based on a phenomenologicalposition
SomeTerminology:PositivismandPhenomemology • Positivism (positiveorobservablefacts): • objective inquiry based on measurable variables and provable propositions. • Forpositivistresearch, science is andshould be concernedwiththeexplanationandtheprediction of observableevents. • Phenomenologicalapproach: • understandingthemeaningeventshaveforpersonsbeingstudied. • Seestheindividualand his/her world as co-constituted. • Theperson is viewed as havingnoexistence apart fromtheworld, andtheworld as havingnoexistence apart fromtheperson.
Some Terminology:ParadigmandPostulates • Paradigm: • Interconnectedassumptionsaboutthenature of reality (a typicalexampleor a patternorsomething) • A paradigmprovidesthelargestframeworkwithinwhichresearchtakesplace • Postulates: • An assumptionstatedpositively (a startingpoint of reasoning) • Postulatesaretheindividualassumptionsthatarestipulatedto be true. • A set of postulatesmakeup a paradigm
Whyarethesetermsimportant? • Researchquestionsmust be carefullymatchedwithmethods of collectingandanalyzing data. • One set of postulatesconstitutes an alternateparadigmandthephenomenologicalapproachtoinquiry • Another set of postulatesframesthe dominant paradigmandpositivistapproach.
A PhilosophicPerspectivetoQualitativeResearch • Quality research is (was!) in the minority status! • Why? • Quantitativeresearchconstitutesobjectiveobservation, quantifiable data andverifiabletruths. • Quantitativeresearchermakes a guessorforms a hypothesiswhich is thenusedto test the data. • Qualitativeresearch is a kind of socialinquiryand it focuses on thewaypeopleinterpretandmake sense of theirexperiencesandtheworld in whichtheylive. • Qualitativeresearcherseekspatternswhichcomeout of oremergefromthe data. • Thus, if the underlying philosophy is not understood, this research is seen as a less rigorous a lessvaluedway of doinginquiry.
A briefhistory of qualitativeresearch • Cultural anthropologists: among the first and best known qualitative researchers • Freud: casestudiesusingtheknowledgegainedfrom his patients • Rogers: transcripts of therapy • Piaget: clinicalinterviews
ParadigmShift in ResearchMethods Can be examinedandbroken apart properly Interconnected
ParadigmShift in ResearchMethods Sth. is always at the bottom and sth. is always at the top There is a ‘web of meaning’
ParadigmShift in ResearchMethods One-wayflowchart Multi-dimensional reproduction
ParadigmShift in ResearchMethods Potentiallyidentifiable Not identifiable
ParadigmShift in ResearchMethods AandBcauseeachother AcausesB
ParadigmShift in ResearchMethods Changeoccursbyreplacingparts – individualanddiscreteparts Change is affectedbythenextchange in a connectedmanner
ParadigmShift in ResearchMethods No way of seeingtheworld is definitelytrue (differentperspectives) Instruments areobjective
The importance of understanding the philosophical underpinnings of the research: • a) understanding similarities and differences between words and numbers • b) perspectivalobserverversusobjectiveobserver • c) discoveryversusproof
WordsandNumbers • The major difference between quantitative and qualitative approaches is the meaning given to the words. • Qualitative research looks closely at people’s words, actions and records. • Quantitative research quantifies such observations (using statistics). • Qualitative researcher does not have to challenge statistics; however, understanding and presenting qualitative research is as demanding as understanding statistics. • Qualitative researcher tries to understand what people say and do (products of how people interpret the world); thus, an emphaticunderstanding is needed.
PerspectivalvsObjectiveObserver • Whywouldsomeoneuse a perspectival (subjective) view in researchratherthan an objectiveview? • To be objective is to be cold and distant so the knower stands outside; to be perspectival requires to get at the world of the agent/subject so the knower and the known are interdependent.
DiscoveryvsProof • The goal of qualitative research is to discover patterns which emerge after close observation, careful documentation and thoughtful analysis of the research topic. • In the process of discovery, we keep in mind that reality is multiple, events are simultaneously and mutually shaped and the goal of this approach is to discover not to prove. • Hypotheses (quantitativeapproach) areformedafterobservations, not before!