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Qualitative Research Methods

Qualitative Research Methods

December 2010 | 328 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd


This comprehensive text takes a practical approach that mirrors the path that students follow in conducting a research project. The book is based on the authors' highly successful multidisciplinary qualitative methods workshops, which have been conducted for over a decade. They introduce a 'qualitative research cycle' that leads students through the selection of appropriate methods, the collection of data, and the transformation of findings into a finished project. The book provides a clear explanation of the nature of qualitative research and its key concepts.

Introduction to the Book
Who is This Book For?  
The Qualitative Research Cycle  
Structure of the Book  
Features of this Book  
The Nature of Qualitative Research
What is Qualitative Research?  
When to Conduct Qualitative Research  
The Underlying Interpretive Paradigm  
Qualitative and Quantitative Research  
Verstehen and Understanding  
The Emic and Etic Perspective  
Subjectivity and The Need for Reflexivity  
Our Approach to Qualitative Research  
Evaluating quality  
The Design Cycle
Formulating Qualitative Research Questions  
Incorporating Literature and Theory  
Developing a Conceptual Framework  
Selecting a Fieldwork Approach  
Evaluating Quality  
Ethical Issues in Qualitative Research
What is Ethics?  
Ethics in Qualitative Research  
Ethical Issues in the Design Cycle  
Ethical Issues in the Ethnographic Cycle  
Ethical Issues in the Analytic Cycle  
Evaluating quality  
Participant Recruitment
What is Participant Recruitment?  
Defining and Refining the Study Population  
How Many to Recruit: The Principle of Saturation  
Recruitment Goals  
Strategies for Participant Recruitment  
Evaluating quality  
In-Depth Interviews
What is an In-Depth Interview?  
When to Conduct an In-Depth Interview  
Purpose of an In-Depth Interview  
The Cyclical Nature of Data Collection  
Developing an Interview Guide  
Preparing for Data Collection  
Reflecting on Subjectivity and Positionality  
Conducting the Interview  
Strengths and Limitations  
Evaluating Quality  
Focus Group Discussions
What is a Focus Group Discussion?  
When to Conduct Focus Group Discussions  
The Cyclical Nature of Data Collection  
Developing the Discussion Guide  
Preparing for Data Collection  
Conducting the Focus Group Discussion  
Post-Discussion Information  
Strengths and Limitations  
Evaluating quality  
What is Observation?  
When to Conduct Observation  
What to Observe  
Types of Observation  
Preparing and Conduct of Observation  
Writing an Observation  
Strengths and Limitations  
Evaluating Quality  
Data Preparation and Developing Codes
The Nature of Qualitative Data Analysis  
Our Approach to Analysis  
Foundations of Grounded Theory  
Data Preparation  
Developing Codes  
Making a Codebook  
Coding Data  
Evaluating Quality  
Textual Data Analysis
Formulating a Project-Specific Plan of Analysis  
Searching Data  
The Cyclical Process of Analysis  
Thick Description  
Categorizing and Conceptualizing  
Theory Development  
Evaluating Quality  
Writing Qualitative Research
Writing in Qualitative Research  
Who is the Audience?  
Structure of Writing  
Beginning to Write  
Writing a Methodology  
Presenting Qualitative Results  
Evaluating Quality  

Hennink et al. write for novice and accomplished qualitative researchers (and everyone in-between)...Qualitative Research Methods is an accessible, readable how-to book. It can be recommended as a reference book for those approaching a new qualitative project. The in-chapter descriptions and the exercises and questions at the end of each chapter provide easy, yet necessary tasks for researchers to complete during each stage of their projects
Christine L. Patton
The Weekly Qualitative Report

Hennink, Hutter, and Bailey’s work is about actually ‘doing’ qualitative research. All the key topics are covered, and sensible ‘warnings’ offered to avoid some of the usual data collection and analysis traps of ethnographic work...the book is accessible, comprehensive and well illustrated both textually and graphically. More importantly and necessarily, it stresses the importance of the theoretical stance taken and its influence upon methodology
Dr Ron Iphofen
Social Research Association News

If there is a need for a spirited defence ofqualitative research then this book makes a strong, compelling and well-delivered case...The book is well structured with a concise style, and the authors make good use of case studies, tables and exercises...New and established researchers will benefit from this book, as well as students wanting an insight intoqualitative research. The passion that these authors feel about their subject comes through strongly in the writing
Ian Birkinshaw
Nursing Standard

Qualitative Research Methods by Hennink, Hutter and Bailey however, provide qualitative researchers with a modern grasp on qualitative research methods. Hennink et al. explain ‘how to do’ qualitative research using a cyclical process, divided into 3 interconnected phases or cycles... The authors’ innovative approach is in contrast to most qualitative research textbooks that focus on qualitative research using the familiar, linear research process. In addition, the presentation of this current book will help apprentice qualitative researchers to appreciate the different stages of the qualitative research cycle... Overall, the chapters are logical and focus on key elements of qualitative research. In an added attempt to support their readers the authors provide excellent examples of directed reading. The use of ‘exercises’ and ‘key points’ reiterates the main points gleaned from each chapter.
Anita Duffy
Nurse Education in Practice

I was very impressed both with the depth and the clarity of information presented by Hennink and her colleagues. This book has a clear and logical structure. It insightfully discusses both the theoretical and epistemological issues that arise at all stages of qualitative research, as well as the very practical application of these methods. The chapters contain detailed guidance, hints and tips on how to use the methods without the text feeling heavy or over-whelming. The 'Evaluating Quality' section at the end of each chapter provides a useful summary and check-list, not only for designing one's own research project, but also for critiquing the quality and validity of other published qualitative studies... This is an excellent new text book for budding qualitative researchers.
Rebecca Langford
Critical Public Health

Covers the data collection methods that I want covered; I appreciate the learning objectives at the beginning of each chapter.

Professor Cynthia Caron
International Development, Community, Environment, Clark University
November 21, 2014

I recommended adoption to the course monitor, but they did not adopt. I recommend this text to my students though. Thank you.

Dr Thomas Dilbert
Aviation Business Administration, Embry-Riddle Aero Univ - Worldwide
February 4, 2014

This is a detailed but user-friendly book for anybody interested in using qualitative methods in social research. The methods are explained and operationalised in a clear and concise way, with great attention to detail.

Dr Tom O'Connor
Social and General Studies, Cork Institute of Technology
August 7, 2013

Good source for supporting novice researchers venturing into qualitative research for the first time. Good investment text, easily accessed and logical in it's approach.

Andrea Bellot
MSc Advanced Practice Pathway, St George's, University of London
March 21, 2013

A good book on qualitative methods especially for university students initiating in the issue.

Dr Auli Guilland
Service, Laurea Polytechnic
March 6, 2013

a good book orientated at the need for practice and theory of beginner in research - especially in different cultural contexts

Professor Brigitte Wotha
Institute for Geography, Christian-Albrechts-Universität
February 15, 2013

Very useful as a supporting text

Professor Margaret Hogg
Dept of Marketing, Lancaster University
February 13, 2013

not the level of concrete examples that we are looking for.

Professor Michel Chaudron
Department of Computer Science, Leiden University
December 14, 2012

a useful text exploring qualitative methods and will be useful for those starting out in qualitative research

Dr Nikki Petty
Health , Brighton University
November 27, 2012
Key features
  • A discussion of the theoretical principles as well as practical application of qualitative research is covered through case studies, field examples, and exercises.
  • International field examples are provided and highlight the application of qualitative research in different cultural contexts.
  • Research tools, such as interview guides, recruitment scripts, coded data segments, theoretical frameworks, are provided throughout the text.
  • The chapters on research methods (in-depth interviews, focus group discussion and observation) include photographs of the method in practice to demonstrate specific elements of research practice (e.g. seating of interviewers, interview context, body language).
  • Exercises are included at the end of each chapter to help the reader practice specific skills such as writing a qualitative research question, conducting a mock focus group discussion, an interview or an observation, transcribing an interview, developing codes from data, and presenting qualitative research.
  • Annotated further readings are included in each chapter, one list of readings related to methodological concepts and a second list of readings for examples of empirical research.
  • Each chapter includes a series of questions to assist the reader in evaluating the quality of their research.
  • Each chapter concludes with a textbox summarizing the key points to reiterate important concepts to the student.

Sample Materials & Chapters


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