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QUALITATIVE RESEARCH

The methods that nurse researchers use to study


problems of interest in the development of a scientific basis for nursing are diverse. This
Diversity, in our view, is critical to the spirit of science, the basic aim of which is to
understand our complex world. So we should discuss alternative ways of asking
questions, identifying sources of information, and gathering and analyzing that
information. Scientific knowledge would be simple, in deed; of there were not rich array
of alternative approaches available.
A distinction always made between two broad
approaches to gather and analyze scientific information –Qualitative and Quantitative.
Quantitative research involves the systematic collection of data under
considerable control, and analysis of that information using statistical procedures.
Qualitative research involves the systematic collection and analysis of more subjective
narrative materials using procedures in which there tends to be a minimum of researcher
–imposed control .Although most nursing research studies are quantitative, there are
growing number of qualitative methods.
DEFINITIONS
Qualitative research is a systematic, subjective approach used to describe life
experiences and give them meaning (Leininger,Munhall)
Qualitative research is away to gain insights through discovering meanings.
However, these insights are obtained not through obtaining causality but through
improving our comprehension of the whole. Within a holistic framework, qualitative
research is a means of exploring the depth, richness, and complexity inherent in
phenomena. the insights from this process can be guide nursing practice and aid in the
important process of theory development for building nursing knowledge.(Schwarts-
Barcott&Kim)
THE LOGIC OF QUALITATIVE RESEARCH
The qualitative approaches are based on a world view that is holistic and has the
following beliefs:
There is not a single reality.
1. Reality, based on perceptions, is different for each person and changes over time.
2. What we know has meaning only within a given situation or context.
The reasoning process used in qualitative research involves perceptually
putting pieces together to make wholes. However, because perception varies with the
individual, many different meanings are possible . one can understand this reasoning
process by exploring the formation of gestalts
The concepts of gestalt is closely related to holism and proposes that knowledge
about a particular phenomenon is organized into cluster of linked ideas, a gestalt. A
theory is a form of gestalt. The purpose of qualitative research is to form new gestalts
and sometimes to generate new theories . To accomplish this purpose, the researcher
has to “get outside” any existing theories or gestalts that explain the phenomenon of
interest.
PHOLOSOPHY AND QUALITATIVE RESEARCH
In qualitative research, frameworks are not used in the same sense as they are in
quantitative studies, because the goal is not theory testing . Nonetheless, each type of
qualitative research is guided by a particular philosophical stance thought to be a

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paradigm. The philosophy directs the questions that are asked, the observations that
are made and how the data are interpreted. These philosophical bases developed
outside nursing, will likely undergo evolutionary changes within nursing.
RIGOR IN QUALITATIVE RESEARCH
Scientific rigor is valued because it is associated with the worth of research
outcomes, and studies are critiqued as a means of judging rigor. Qualitative research
methods have been criticized for lack of rigor. However, these criticisms have occurred
because of attempts made to judge the rigor of qualitative studies using rules developed
to judge quantitative studies. Rigor needs to be defined differently for qualitative research
because the desired outcome is different.
Lack of rigor in qualitative research is due to problems such as
1. Inconsistency in adhering to the philosophy of the approach being used.
2. Failure to get away from older ideas
3. Poorly developed methods
4. Inadequate time spent collecting data
5. Poor observation
6. Failure to give careful consideration to all the data obtained, and
7. Inadequacy of theoretical development from the data.
CHARACTERISTICS
Qualitative research characterized by 3 features that distinguishes it from quantitative
research. These are;
1. Emic perspective
2. the holistic perspective
3. an inductive and interactive process of inquiry.
Emic: eliciting meaning, experience and perception from the participant’s point of
view, rather than the researcher’s perspective.
Holistic: an approach to the phenomena of interest by considering and including the
underlying values and the context as apart of the phenomena.
An inductive and interactive: process of inquiry between the researcher and the data,
which the researcher drives the analytic process as he or she gains comprehensions
and insight about the phenomena of interest.
USES
1. When attempts to understand the entirely of some phenomenon rather than
focuses on specific concepts.
2. Has few preconceived hunches, stresses the importance of peoples
interpretations of events and circumstances, rather than the researchers
interpretations.
3. Collects information without formal, structured instruments
4. Does not attempt to control the context of the research but , rather attempts to
capture in its entirely
5. Attempts to capitalize on the subjective as a means for understanding and
interpreting human experiences.
6. Analyses narrative information in an organized but intuitive fashion.
ACTIVITIES IN A QUALITATIVE STUDY.
Qualitative research involves a fairly linear progression of tasks –
researchers plan in advance the steps to be taken to maximize study integrity and

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then follow those steps as faithfully as possible. In qualitative studies , by contrast
, the progression is closer to a circle than to a straight line- qualitative researchers
are continually examining and interpreting data and making decisions about how
to proceed based on what has already been discovered. Because qualitative
researchers have a flexible approaches to the collection and analysis of data, it is
impossible to define the flow of activities precisely – the flow varies from one
study to another, and the researchers themselves do not know ahead of time
exactly how the study will proceed.
The following section provides a sense of how qualitative studies are conducted by
describing some major activities.
Conceptualizing and planning qualitative study
Identifying the research problem
Doing literature review
Selecting and gaining entrée into research sites
Research design
Conducting the qualitative study
Disseminating qualitative findings.
Parse , coyne ,and smith (1985) suggested that research methods , whether
qualitative or quantitative , include the following 5 basic elements.
1. Identifying the phenomena
2. Structuring the study
3. Gathering the dated
4. Analyzing the data
5. Describing the findings
QUALITATIVE APPROACHES IN NURSING RESEARCH

1. Phenomenology
2. Grounded theory
3. Ethnography
4. Case study
5. Historical research

Phenomenology
The phenomenological method is a process of learning and constructing the
meaning of human experience through intensive dialogue with persons who
are living the experience. The researchers goal is to understand the meaning of
the experience as it is lived by the participant. Meaning is pursued through a
dialogue process, which extends beyond a simple interview and requires
thoughtful presence on the part of the researcher.
Identifying the phenomenon
Because the focus of the phenomenological method is the lived experience,
the researcher is likely to choose method when studying some dimension of
day-to-day existence for a particular group of individuals.
For instance, the nurse may be interested in the experience of anger for persons
who have heart disease or the experience of success for baccalaureate nursing
students.

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Structuring the study
For the purpose of describing structuring, the following topics are addressed:
1. the researcher question
2. the researcher’s perspective
3. sample selection

Data gathering
Written or oral data may collect when using the phenomenological method.
The researcher may pose the query in writing and ask for a written response or
may schedule a time to interview the participant and the tape record the
interaction.
Data analysis
Several techniques are available for data analysis when using the
phenomenological method. Although the techniques are slightly different
from each other, there is a general pattern of moving from the participant
description to the researcher’s synthesis of all participants descriptions.
Describing the findings
When reading the report of a phenomenological study, the reader will find that
detailed language is used to convey the complex meanings of the lived
experience.
GROUNDED THEORY
The grounded theory method is an inductive approach involving a
systematic set of procedures to arrive at theory about basic social processes.
The emergent theory is based on observations and perceptions of the social
scene and evolves during data collection and analysis in the actual research
process. The aim of grounded theory approach is to discover underlying social
forces that shape human behaviour. This theory is used to construct theory
wher no theory exists or in situations when existing theory fails to explain a
set of circumstances.
Identifying the phenomenon
Researchers typically use this method when they are interested in social
processes from the perspsective of human interactions or patterns of action
and interaction between and among various types of social units. The basic
social process is often expressed as a gerund , indicating change across time as
a social reality is negotiated. For example Mallory and Stern (2000)studied
awakening as a change process for women at risk for HIV or the
developmental process that occurs when women become sex workers out of
economic necessity .
Structuring the study
Research question
Researcher’s perspective
Sample selection

Data gathering

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In the grounded theory method , the consumer will find that data are collected
through interviews and through skilled observations of individuals interacting
in a social setting. Open ended questions are used initially to identify concepts
for further focus.
Data analysis
A major feature of the grounded theory method is data collection and analysis
occurs simultaneously. The process requires systematic, detailed record
keeping using field notes and transcribed interview tapes.
Describing the findings
Grounded theory studies are reported in sufficient detail to provide the reader
with steps in the process and the logic of the method. Reports of grounded
theory studies use descriptive language and diagrams of the process to ensure
that the theory reported in the findings remains connected to the data.
CONCLUSION
Qualitative research is a way to gain insights through discovering
meanings. However these insights are obtained not through establishing
casuality but through improving our comprehension of the whole. Within a
holistic frame work , qualitative research is a means of exploring the depth ,
richness, and complexity inherent in phenomena. The insights from this
process can guide nursing practice and aid in the important process of theory
development for building nursing knowledge.
REFERENCES
1. Morse. M. Janice, (1992). Qualitative health Research, Copy right, by sage
publications, inc, New Delhi, India, page 1-3.
2. Pilot F. Denise, (2004). Nursing research, principles and methods, (7th edition), by
Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, page 46.
3. Talbot A. Laura, (1995). Principles and practice of nursing research, copy right,
page no. 416.
4. Nancy Burns & Susan K. Grove, (2001). The principles of nursing research-
conduct, critique, & utilization, 4th edition, W.B sounders company, page no 61.
5. Pilot F. Denise & Hunger P. Bernadette, (1992). Nursing research, methods,
apprasial and utilisation, 3rd edition, J.B. Lippincott Company, page no. 325.