Gaining Access: A Practical and Theoretical Guide for Qualitative Researchers

Grounded theory
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It helps the researcher to develop questions that make sense in the native language or are culturally relevant.

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It gives the researcher a better understanding of what is happening in the culture and lends credence to one's interpretations of the observation. Participant observation also enables the researcher to collect both quantitative and qualitative data through surveys and interviews. It is sometimes the only way to collect the right data for one's study pp.

www.cantinesanpancrazio.it/components/kikonum/68-spia-telefonino.php These include that it affords access to the "backstage culture" p. DeWALT and DeWALT add that it improves the quality of data collection and interpretation and facilitates the development of new research questions or hypotheses p. DeMUNCK and SOBO also share several disadvantages of using participation as a method, including that sometimes the researcher may not be interested in what happens out of the public eye and that one must rely on the use of key informants.

To alleviate this potential bias problem, BERNARD suggests pretesting informants or selecting participants who are culturally competent in the topic being studied. They note that the information collected by anthropologists is not representative of the culture, as much of the data collected by these researchers is observed based on the researcher's individual interest in a setting or behavior, rather than being representative of what actually happens in a culture.

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Gaining access is a critical part of doing research, not only because one must " get in" in order to gain information, but also because the quality of access affects . Gaining Access: A Practical and Theoretical Guide for Qualitative Researchers. each of which contains case studies that illustrate qualitative research.

Such actions skew the description of cultural activities. To alleviate this problem, they advocate the use of systematic observation procedures to incorporate rigorous techniques for sampling and recording behavior that keep researchers from neglecting certain aspects of culture. Their definition of structured observation directs who is observed, when and where they are observed, what is observed, and how the observations are recorded, providing a more quantitative observation than participant observation.

Several researchers have noted the limitations involved with using observations as a tool for data collection. For example, DeWALT and DeWALT note that male and female researchers have access to different information, as they have access to different people, settings, and bodies of knowledge.

There are a number of things that affect whether the researcher is accepted in the community, including one's appearance, ethnicity, age, gender, and class, for example. Another factor they mention that may inhibit one's acceptance relates to what they call the structural characteristics—that is, those mores that exist in the community regarding interaction and behavior p. Some of the reasons they mention for a researcher's not being included in activities include a lack of trust, the community's discomfort with having an outsider there, potential danger to either the community or the researcher, and the community's lack of funds to further support the researcher in the research.

Some of the ways the researcher might be excluded include the community members' use of a language that is unfamiliar to the researcher, their changing from one language to another that is not understood by the researcher, their changing the subject when the researcher arrives, their refusal to answer certain questions, their moving away from the researcher to talk out of ear shot, or their failure to invite the researcher to social events.

The important thing, they note, is for the researcher to recognize what that exclusion means to the research process and that, after the researcher has been in the community for a while, the community is likely to have accepted the researcher to some degree. Another potential limitation they mention is that of researcher bias. They note that, unless ethnographers use other methods than just participant observation, there is likelihood that they will fail to report the negative aspects of the cultural members. Researcher bias is one of the aspects of qualitative research that has led to the view that qualitative research is subjective, rather than objective.

According to RATNER , some qualitative researchers believe that one cannot be both objective and subjective, while others believe that the two can coexist, that one's subjectivity can facilitate understanding the world of others. BREUER and ROTH use a variety of methods for knowledge production, including, for example, positioning or various points of view, different frames of reference, such as special or temporal relativity, perceptual schemata based on experience, and interaction with the social context—understanding that any interaction changes the observed object.

Using different approaches to data collection and observation, in particular, leads to richer understanding of the social context and the participants therein. The quality of the participant observation depends upon the skill of the researcher to observe, document, and interpret what has been observed. It is important in the early stages of the research process for the researcher to make accurate observation field notes without imposing preconceived categories from the researcher's theoretical perspective, but allow them to emerge from the community under study see Section GOLD relates the four observation stances as follows:.

The disadvantages of this stance are that the researcher may lack objectivity, the group members may feel distrustful of the researcher when the research role is revealed, and the ethics of the situation are questionable, since the group members are being deceived. In the participant as observer stance, the researcher is a member of the group being studied, and the group is aware of the research activity.

This role also has disadvantages, in that there is a trade off between the depth of the data revealed to the researcher and the level of confidentiality provided to the group for the information they provide. The observer as participant stance enables the researcher to participate in the group activities as desired, yet the main role of the researcher in this stance is to collect data, and the group being studied is aware of the researcher's observation activities. In this stance, the researcher is an observer who is not a member of the group and who is interested in participating as a means for conducting better observation and, hence, generating more complete understanding of the group's activities.

The opposite extreme stance from the complete participant is the complete observer , in which the researcher is completely hidden from view while observing or when the researcher is in plain sight in a public setting, yet the public being studied is unaware of being observed. In either case, the observation in this stance is unobtrusive and unknown to participants. Of these four stances, the role providing the most ethical approach to observation is that of the observer as participant, as the researcher's observation activities are known to the group being studied, yet the emphasis for the researcher is on collecting data, rather than participating in the activity being observed.

MERRIAM suggests that the question is not whether the process of observing affects the situation or the participants, but how the researcher accounts for those effects in explaining the data.

Qualitative Research Methods & Methodology

Participant observation is more difficult than simply observing without participation in the activity of the setting, since it usually requires that the field notes be jotted down at a later time, after the activity has concluded. Yet there are situations in which participation is required for understanding. Simply observing without participating in the action may not lend itself to one's complete understanding of the activity. SPRADLEY describes the various roles that observers may take, ranging in degree of participation from non-participation activities are observed from outside the research setting to passive participation activities are observed in the setting but without participation in activities to moderate participation activities are observed in the setting with almost complete participation in activities to complete participation activities are observed in the setting with complete participation in the culture.

Those serving in a peripheral membership role observe in the setting but do not participate in activities, while active membership roles denote the researcher's participation in certain or all activities, and full membership is reflected by fully participating in the culture.

Other factors that may affect the degree to which one may participate in the culture include the researcher's age, gender, class, and ethnicity. One also must consider the limitations of participating in activities that are dangerous or illegal. MERRIAM suggests that the most important factor in determining what a researcher should observe is the researcher's purpose for conducting the study in the first place.

Over time, such events may change, with the season, for example, so per sistent observation of activities or events that one has already observed may be necessary. WOLCOTT suggests that fieldworkers ask themselves if they are making good use of the opportunity to learn what it is they want to know. He further advises that fieldworkers ask themselves if what they want to learn makes the best use of the opportunity presented. WHYTE notes that, while there is no one way that is best for conducting research using participant observation, the most effective work is done by researchers who view informants as collaborators; to do otherwise, he adds, is a waste of human resources.

His emphasis is on the relationship between the researcher and informants as collaborative researchers who, through building solid relationships, improve the research process and improve the skills of the researcher to conduct research. Conducting observations involves a variety of activities and considerations for the researcher, which include ethics, establishing rapport, selecting key informants, the processes for conducting observations, deciding what and when to observe, keeping field notes, and writing up one's findings.

In this section, these aspects of the research activities are discussed in more detail. A primary consideration in any research study is to conduct the research in an ethical manner, letting the community know that one's purpose for observing is to document their activities. While there may be instances where covert observation methods might be appropriate, these situations are few and are suspect.

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This means that one is constantly introducing oneself as a researcher. Another ethical responsibility is to preserve the anonymity of the participants in the final write-up and in field notes to prevent their identification, should the field notes be subpoenaed for inspection. Individual identities must be described in ways that community members will not be able to identify the participants. Several years ago, when I submitted an article for publication, one of the reviewers provided feedback that it would be helpful to the reader if I described the participants as, for example, "a 35 year old divorced mother of three, who worked at Wal-Mart.

Instead, I only provided broad descriptions that lacked specific details, such as "a woman in her thirties who worked in the retail industry. It is typical for researchers who spend an extended period of time in a community to establish friendships or other relationships, some of which may extend over a lifetime; others are transient and extend only for the duration of the research study.

The coding manual for qualitative researchers

Particularly when conducting cross-cultural research, it is necessary to have an understanding of cultural norms that exist. They suggest that the researcher take a participatory approach to research by including community members in the research process, beginning with obtaining culturally appropriate permission to conduct research and ensuring that the research addresses issues of importance to the community. They further suggest that the research findings be shared with the community to ensure accuracy of findings. In my own ongoing research projects with the Muscogee Creek people, I have maintained relationships with many of the people, including tribal leaders, tribal administrators, and council members, and have shared the findings with selected tribal members to check my findings.

Analysis is more than coding

One is constructing a model of culture, not telling the truth about the data, as there are numerous truths, particularly when presented from each individual participant's viewpoint. Simple exchanges such as these can communicate such cultural patterns as status, gender, race, and class differences, etc. For example, Hill et al. To alleviate this potential bias problem, BERNARD suggests pretesting informants or selecting participants who are culturally competent in the topic being studied. Prozessstrukturen des Lebensablaufs. The use of saturation in these two cases could perhaps indicate a degree of confusion in some studies about the meaning of saturation and its purpose, even when taking into account the differing models of saturation outlined earlier.

Further, I have given them copies of my work for their library. I, too, have found that, by taking a participatory approach to my research with them, I have been asked to participate in studies that they wish to have conducted. Regarding entering the field, there are several activities that must be addressed.

These include choosing a site, gaining permission, selecting key informants, and familiarizing oneself with the setting or culture BERNARD, In this process, one must choose a site that will facilitate easy access to the data. The objective is to collect data that will help answer the research questions. To assist in gaining permission from the community to conduct the study, the researcher may bring letters of introduction or other information that will ease entry, such as information about one's affiliation, funding sources, and planned length of time in the field.

One may need to meet with the community leaders. For example, when one wishes to conduct research in a school, permission must be granted by the school principal and, possibly, by the district school superintendent. For research conducted in indigenous communities, it may be necessary to gain permission from the tribal leader or council. One should use personal contacts to ease entry; these would include key informants who serve as gatekeepers, but BERNARD cautions against choosing a gatekeeper who represents one side of warring factions, as the researcher may be seen as affiliated with that faction.

He also cautions that, when using highly placed individuals as gatekeepers, the researcher may be expected to serve as a spy. The "professional stranger handlers" are those people who take upon themselves the job of finding out what it is the researcher is after and how it may affect the members of the culture. These key informants must be people who are respected by other cultural members and who are viewed to be neutral, to enable the researcher to meet informants in all of the various factions found in the culture.

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The researcher also should become familiar with the setting and social organization of the culture. This may involve mapping out the setting or developing social networks to help the researcher understand the situation. These activities also are useful for enabling the researcher to know what to observe and from whom to gather information.

DeMUNCK and SOBO state that, "only through hanging out do a majority of villagers get an opportunity to watch, meet, and get to know you outside your 'professional' role" p. This process of hanging out involves meeting and conversing with people to develop relationships over an extended period of time.

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There is more to participant observation than just hanging out. It sometimes involves the researcher's working with and participating in everyday activities beside participants in their daily lives. It also involves taking field notes of observations and interpretations.

The coding manual for qualitative researchers - PDF Free Download

Included in this fieldwork is persistent observation and intermittent questioning to gain clarification of meaning of activities. Rapport is built over time; it involves establishing a trusting relationship with the community, so that the cultural members feel secure in sharing sensitive information with the researcher to the extent that they feel assured that the information gathered and reported will be presented accurately and dependably. Rapport-building involves active listening, showing respect and empathy, being truthful, and showing a commitment to the well-being of the community or individual.

Rapport is also related to the issue of reciprocity, the giving back of something in return for their sharing their lives with the researcher. The researcher has the responsibility for giving something back, whether it is monetary remuneration, gifts or material goods, physical labor, time, or research results. Confidentiality is also a part of the reciprocal trust established with the community under study. They must be assured that they can share personal information without their identity being exposed to others.

BERNARD states that "the most important thing you can do to stop being a freak is to speak the language of the people you're studying—and speak it well" , p.

Fluency in the native language helps gain access to sensitive information and increases rapport with participants.