- Aug 2019
It honors the dignity and worth of our clients.
Great way to connect social work principles/values to this chapter's content. Perhaps we can include additional connections of this kind. For example, evaluating programs can help establish empirical support bases for existing or new interventions, and in a general sense helps move social work toward evidence-based practice. (The NASW identifies "evaluation and research" as ethical responsibilities.)
Two terms - "cultural considerations" and "cultural humility" - seem to be used somewhat interchangeably here. To facilitate reader comprehension of any differences between these terms, perhaps we can provide a direct link to relevant material in previous chapters/sections. For instance, can we link the term "cultural humility" to the chapter/section where it is first discussed in the text?
the program that removed aboriginal children from their families and assimilated them into white culture was seen as successful.
I suggest linking this statement/claim to a specific reference. Can we find and link the relevant article or other publication so that readers, if interested, can look this up?
To avoid possible reader confusion, I suggest dropping the word "before" in this sentence. Consider revising to something like:
"I've evaluated programs that turned out to be ineffective, but were required by state law..."
Perhaps this is slightly nitpicky, but I think the word "solve" communicates a potentially problematic implication that all ethical dilemmas can be solved. "Address," rather than "solve," might be a more appropriate term here. Consider revising to something like:
"You need to use your research and social work ethics to address these problems."
especially funders, that, while sometimes present in research, are especially salient for program evaluation given its origins.
This last half of the sentence tripped me up a bit. Perhaps consider rewording, or restructuring into multiple sentences, so that the author's main point is more clearly articulated.
from our stakeholders
among rather than "from" our stakeholders?
Discuss cultural and ethical issues to consider when planning and conducting program evaluation.
Instead of "Discuss," perhaps "Identify" is a more appropriate action verb for this first Learning Objective. Alternatively, perhaps revise to something like:
"Consider cultural and ethical issues when planning and conducting program evaluation."
(Recognizing that this is perhaps a relatively trivial matter, I think that the Learning Objectives should focus on reader internalization/comprehension, rather than on the ability to discuss important concepts.)
Is each of the following examples an outcome or an impact? Choose the correct answer.
These brief exercises are helpful in that they review important concepts and test reader learning - but I think the more important and potentially more helpful aspect of these exercises is that they also present realistic research scenarios. Associating realistic research scenarios with this section's content helps readers understand how the content is actually applied in research practice.
Impact evaluations apply research methods to the analysis of change after a defined period of time has passed after the end of a program and try to establish a logical link between program participation and long-term change.
For clarity and easier reading, consider revising to something like:
"Impact evaluations, which try to establish a logical link between program participation and long-term change, apply research methods to analyze that change after a program has ended and some defined period of time has passed."
For both of these types of evaluations, you have to consider what type of research design you can actually use in your circumstances – are you coming in when a program is already in progress, so you have no baseline data? Or can you collect baseline data to compare to a post-test? For impact evaluations, how are you going to track participants over time?
Concrete examples - either from the literature or the author's own experience - might be a helpful way to sharpen student reader comprehension here. Are there abstracts we can link to, for example, that summarize research scenarios with and without baseline data? Are there abstracts or research summary sites/documents that review participant tracking methods? These kinds of examples may be important for student readers, particularly since (in my experience) many are likely to incorporate program evaluation in their MSW research projects.
To maintain consistency, consider revising to the plural form. Suggested revision:
"It may also be difficult or impossible to control for whatever happens in your participants' lives between the end of the program and the end of your long-term measurement period."
It’s a good practice to try to keep intermittent contact with participants, even if you aren’t taking a measurement at that time, so that you’re less likely to lose track of them.
Can we perhaps provide an in-text example, or a link to a relevant study, to illustrate the articulation of this principle/suggestion in actual research practice? While I do think this is an important suggestion, it may be difficult for some student readers to translate this suggestion into actual practice. Providing a concrete example of how to do this may also help students whose research projects could benefit from some intentional strategy for maintaining intermittent contact with participants.
Because of this distinction, outcome and impact evaluations are going to look a little different.
This sentence might fit better, I think, if inserted earlier in the paragraph. To improve the general flow and logical presentation of important points, consider revising so that this paragraph looks something like:
"When we talk about research or program evaluation, a lot of us tend to use the terms 'outcome' and 'impact' interchangeably. The truth, however, is that these are two distinct terms, and it's important to understand the differences between them. Because of these distinctions, outcome and impact evaluations are going to look a little different."
It is the short-term effect – for our kinesthetic learning example, perhaps an improvement over last year’s end-of-grade math test scores.
To clarify and to facilitate easier reading, consider revising so that the concepts and the examples, both of which are currently included in the same single sentences concerning outcomes and impacts, are separated into more manageable and easier-to-grasp chunks. Perhaps revise to something like:
"It may be helpful to think of outcomes as short-term effects. For our kinesthetic learning example, an improvement over last year's end-of-grade math test scores might be an outcome we're interested in as researchers. An impact is the long-term condition that occurs at the end of a defined time period after some intervention. Think of impact as the longer-term effect. For the same kinesthetic learning example, an appropriate impact might be the improved math skills retention as students advance through school."
This could just be an issue specific to my computer hardware or software, but I thought it best to mention anyway: When I attempted to click on the linked definitions for the terms "outcome" and "impact" in this section, I was not able to properly see the pop-up definition text boxes. Though a text box does appear for both terms, they pop up and disappear so quickly that the reader has very little time - maybe less than half a second - to read the text box content. Perhaps another team member can check these linked definitions to verify that this is just an issue with my equipment rather than something that will affect all readers.
A lot of us will use “outcome” and “impact” interchangeably, but the truth is, they are different
For clarity and to promote easier reading, consider revising this sentence so that the subjects are more explicitly identified. For instance, I'd suggest revising this section's introduction to something like:
"When we talk about research or program evaluation, a lot of us tend to use the terms 'outcome' and 'impact' interchangeably. The truth, however, is that these are two distinct terms, and it's important to understand the differences between them."
Understand the principles of conducting an impact evaluation
To preserve formatting consistency, consider adding a period to the end of this sentence ("Understand the principles of conducting an impact evaluation.")
The EPIS model is also useful in program planning, as it mirrors the linear process of a logic model.
Because some readers may look to the Key Takeaways sections for quick/easy reference, consider providing direct links to important models/terms. For example, linking the "EPIS model" as well as "logic model" to their relevant places/definitions in the previous sections may be useful for some readers hoping to brush up on this material.
Implementation is a new and frequently advancing field, and realistically, it’s beyond what a lot of us are going to be able to evaluate in our agencies at this point. But even taking pieces of it – especially the pieces about the importance of context for our programs and evaluations – is useful. Even if you don’t use it as an evaluative framework, the questions outlined above are good ones to ask when you’re planning your program in the first place.
Good use of a practical, straightforward summary paragraph to conclude this section. Noting that implementation science is often beyond the scope of student work at this point in their careers is a useful observation and also a way to keep students interested and engaged with the material here.
I could have missed it, but - to the best of my recollection - I did not see the term Evidence-Based Practice defined and associated with a parenthetical acronym earlier in this chapter.
Participant data: can help you determine if you are actually reaching the people you intend to. Focus groups: how did people experience the program? How could you improve it from the participant perspective? Satisfaction surveys: did participants get what they wanted from the program? Staff perception data: How did the program go for staff? Were expectations realistic? What did they see in terms of qualitative changes for participants? Program adherence monitoring: how well did you follow your program plans?
Can we revise the text color or format so that this section is easier to read and visually more manageable? Each beginning term, for example, could be formatted in this way:
"Participant data: Can help you determine if you're actually reaching the people you intend to reach."
To facilitate quick/easy reference, consider linking back to the original introduction/definition for this term ("iterative approach")
Something we often don’t have time for in practice is evaluating how things are going internally with our programs. How’s it going with all the documentation our agency asks us to complete? Is the space we’re using for our group sessions facilitating client engagement? Is the way we communicate with volunteers effective?
Again - this is a straightforward, practical section introduction. Great way to keep readers engaged by connecting content to real-world experiences common among social workers.
project, just like in a research project.
To clarify and maintain consistent terminology, consider revising so that this sentence reads:
"...affected by the resources you can dedicate to your program evaluation project, just like in a research project."
you’ve got a good enough idea for a little exercise below.
This is a potentially helpful review method for student readers. For some of the other chapters (the chapters on qualitative data collection and analysis, for example), this kind of quick review might also be helpful to promote reader comprehension and internalization of key terms/concepts.
<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/IHEp0gJRTwI” frameborder=”0″ allow=”accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture” allowfullscreen></iframe>
Not sure if this is just an issue with my internet browser (Google Chrome), but this link, rather than showing up as standard linked text, appears as the following:
< iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/IHEp0gJRTwI” frameborder=”0″ allow=”accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture” allowfullscreen></iframe >
improving student behavior
To align with social work terminology and values, consider revising to something like:
"...the teachers at your school might be interested in decreasing classroom disruptions or enhancing subject matter learning, while the administration is solely focused on test scores."
(found at this link)
Rather than presenting the link in separate parenthetical form (which may disrupt the flow of this sentence/paragraph for some readers), consider revising so that the link is included at a different point. For example, the link might be embedded in the word "framework" (as in: "The Centers for Disease Control has a great, simple framework(LINK) for planning your program evaluation project...")
(Pro-tip: logic models are a heck of a lot easier to make in Excel than Word.)
Excellent practical observation/suggestion. This will undoubtedly be appreciated by many student readers.
You have to involve the program stakeholders at a greater level than most types of research, which will sometimes focus your program evaluation project on areas you wouldn’t have necessarily chosen (for better or worse)
It may be helpful to include an example of how program stakeholder involvement can change program evaluation focus. Is there a way to emphasize cultural sensitivity by way of such an example? For instance, maybe in the example scenario, the student engaged in the kinesthetic teaching methods project meets with stakeholders and learns that teachers want some evaluation of novel methods for a special education classroom, which has children with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The student in this hypothetical scenario might not have intended at the outset to focus in any particular way on the effects of kinethetic teaching methods for this specific population, but this student is now aware that the teachers perceive some particular need in this area. Might be a helpful way to demonstrate (a) the possible effects of stakeholder involvement, and (b) the importance of cultural sensitivity when approaching program evaluation projects.
In the end, it’s important to remember that these are guidelines, and you will no doubt encounter program evaluation projects that cross the lines of research, and vice versa. Understanding how the two differ will help you decide how to move forward when you encounter the need to assess the effect of a program in practice.
Not sure if this was intentional or if this is an error, but I did want to mention: This paragraph ("In the end, it's important to remember that these are guidelines...") is a verbatim repetition of the concluding paragraph in the Execution subsection (right-arrow dropdown) above.
Let’s think back to our example from the start of the chapter
This use of a consistent example topic (kinesthetic teaching methods) is, I think, helpful for promoting reader comprehension.
Click the right-facing arrows to the left of the words below to expand and learn more about each domain.
Consider providing direct links to chapters and content referenced in each subsection. (For example, under "Purpose," the first paragraph mentions researchaim and notes that this concept was introduced in Chapter 2. To facilitate faster/easier reader review, consider embedding a link to the relevant section in that chapter.)
key differences between the two that make them distinct activities appropriate in different circumstances
The wording or sentence structure threw me off a bit here. For clarity, perhaps revise to something like:
"However, there are some key differences between program evaluation and research. Understanding these differences will help us determine which of the two is most appropriate for certain circumstances or goals."
As we talked about above,
"As we talked about above" is slightly repetitive, since the same phrase (describing the same idea re: program eval and research similarities/differences) was recently used in a previous paragraph. I think this section might be better introduced if the opening sentence just read:
"Program evaluation and research are similar, especially in that they both rely on scientific methods."
The reality of the grant funding environment is that funders want to see that their money is not only being used wisely, but is having a material effect on the target population. This is a good thing, because we want to know our programs have a positive effect on clients and communities and not just keep running a program because it’s what we’ve always done. (Consider the ethical implications of continuing to run an ineffective program.) It also forces us as practitioners to plan grant-funded programs with an eye toward evaluation. It’s much easier to evaluate your program when you can gather data at the beginning of the program than when you have to work backwards at the middle or end of the program.
This kind of practical, real-world connection to the social work profession will likely be appreciated by many MSW student readers.
To facilitate easier/faster reader reference, consider providing a linked definition to the relevant section in Chapter 1.
Realistically, as a practitioner, you’re far more likely to engage in program evaluation than you are in research.
This kind of straightforward/practical observation is much appreciated by many MSW students, in my experience.
students retain information better using kinesthetic teaching methods and that it can reduce student behavior issues
Perhaps we can include a reference to the relevant literature here to bolster this claim/statement.
Also, to specify intended meaning - and to align with social work terminology - consider explicitly identifying "student behavior issues." For example, we might revise to something like:
"You have read research suggesting that kinesthatic teaching methods enhance student retention of information, and may reduce disruptive or aggressive student behavior in the classroom."
will by integrating kinesthetic learning
The use of the word "by" here - as in "...will by integrating kinesthetic learning" - threw me off a bit. Not sure if this is a typo?
Also, we may want to provide a linked definition for the term kinesthetic learning, and perhaps a link to a blog post, educational fact sheet, etc. that illustrates the concept. This may be appreciated by students interested in school social work, for those in education-related field placements, etc.
Imagine you are working for a nonprofit focused on children’s health and wellness in school
Great way to begin this chapter. I appreciate the introduction of this chapter's topic by way of a concrete example.
which also has implications for the next chapter that deals with developing and disseminating the final products of qualitative research.
For clarity and to facilitate a smooth conceptual transition to the next chapter, consider revising this sentence to something like:
"Your research team will need to consider how to put your findings together in a way that supports this intended change. The packaging and format of your findings will have important implications for developing and disseminating the final products of qualitative research. Chapter 20 focuses in part on these implications."
As an example of this work, Mitchell (2018)
To break this relatively dense paragraph into separate sections, and to emphasize this helpful example a bit more, consider beginning a new paragraph with "As an example of this work, Mitchell (2008)..."
Dr. Tiffany Gallicano has a helpful blog post
The "Coding in grounded theory" section is fairly dense and potentially difficult-to-grasp for some readers. I think the inclusion of the blog post link is a great way to help students internalize concepts. Perhaps we can also provide linked definitions for the different coding types (open coding; axial coding; selective/theoretical coding) to clarify that these are each separate terms with separate definitions, and also to preserve formatting consistency used earlier in the textbook.
In my experience, many MSW-level readers will not internalize definitions/concepts surrounding postpositivism without a fair amount of repetition. To facilitate readers' comprehension and understanding, I suggest we provide a direct link to the earlier section or definition for postpositivism.
Perhaps we can provide a direct link to Chapter 22's section on grounded theory to facilitate easier/quicker reader reference
For the reader with a keen eye, you will have noticed that this quote stated that grounded theory is described as a research design and yet it is being included here as an approach to qualitative analysis.
We might improve sentence structure and clarity with the following revision:
"Readers with a keen eye will notice that while this quote describes grounded theory as a research design, this chapter of our textbook identifies grounded theory as a qualitative analysis approach."
As you determine how to represent the findings of your content analysis, make sure that they are answering your research question and that they are readily understandable and easy to interpret for your audience.
The multiple usages of "they" in this sentence threw me off a bit. For clarity, consider revising to something like:
"However you choose to represent the findings of your content analysis, make sure the resulting product answers your research question and is readily understandable and easy-to-interpret for your audience."
you will go about coding your data
To preserve the general tone of this chapter, and to clarify the sequential order of suggested action steps, consider revising to something like:
"Once you have (or are developing) your codes, your next step will be to actually code your data."
Below is a brief excerpt from a codebook from one of the projects I’m currently working on with a research team to help illustrate what this might look like for you.
Sentence structure/grammar is potentially misleading here. To clarify that the codebook excerpt is from the author's Ageing Project, and not from a project explicitly concerned with "help[ing] illustrate what this might look like for you," consider revising this sentence to something like:
"To help illustrate what this might look like for your project, see below for a brief codebook excerpt from one of my own current projects."
To break this section's content into more visually manageable chunks, and to maintain consistency, perhaps we should (a) link a formal definition to the word "codebook" and (b) begin a new paragraph with the sentence "A codebook is a document that outlines..."
To clarify that the text refers here to previously presented terms, and to facilitate reader review, perhaps we can provide direct links to the Deductive and Inductive Research sections.
The authors also provide a table in the image below that helps to highlight some of the key features that help to further differentiate these approaches:
This table will definitely be helpful for readers, in my humble opinion - but I also think that this sentence describing the table is perhaps unnecessarily wordy. For clarity and concision, perhaps revise to something like:
"In the table below, Hsieh and Shannon (2005) review key differences between these three approaches to content analysis."
ALSO - is there a way to reformat the text in "Table 4: Major Coding Differences Among Three Approaches to Content Analysis"? Perhaps having a unique text color for each particular subsection ("Conventional," "Directed," and "Summative") will facilitate reader review.
As you might have guessed, this approach likely is studying a topic with the most existing research, when compared to the other two.
Though I think I do understand the author's intended point here, I think the wording is perhaps a bit tricky and potentially confusing for some readers. To make links explicit and content easier to understand, consider revising to something like:
"As you might have guessed, this approach is more likely to be used if you're studying a topic which already has some existing research in the literature base."
(I think this section will be clearer, and can stand on its own, without the last "...when compared to the other two" part of the sentence.)
the coding categories emerge from the raw data that help us to understand the dimensions of this phenomenon.
To clarify that the coding categories are what actually help us understand dimensions of a phenomenon (rather than the raw data itself helping us understand those dimensions), consider revising this sentence so that the ideas stand apart. For example, a revised sentence here might read something like:
"Starting with a general idea or phenomenon you want to explore (for which there is limited data), coding categories then emerge from the raw data. These coding categories help us understand the different dimensions, patterns, and trends that may exist within the raw data collected in our research."
often the labels given to these approaches vary between disciplines
Though I think I do understand the author's intended point here, the wording is perhaps slightly confusing. A concrete example or two might also help to clarify this section's content. Consider revising to something like:
"There are significant variations among different content analysis approaches. Also, different disciplines may assign their own distinct labels to varying approaches. For example, (BLANK) is often referred to as (BLANK) in the social sciences, while the same approach is typically called (BLANK) among engineering professionals."
(Note: I'm not familiar with different content analysis categories/labels, so I just pulled some hypothetical examples out of the air. No importance or meaning should be given to my choice of social sciences and engineering as example disciplines.)
Vaismoradi, Turunen, and Bondas (2013).
Good inclusion of an example from the literature to illustrate and expand on this section's material.
Places a greater emphasis on determining unit of analysis
In this explanatory subsection, can we perhaps format the text color or font so that the main point in each numbered section stands out visually? For example, a revised format might look something like this:
"1. Places a greater emphasis on determining unit of analysis. When conducting a content analysis, you'll want to first determine what your unit of analysis may be. . . ."
Explain defining features of content analysis as a strategy for qualitative data analysis and when it is most effectively used
These two learning objectives are perhaps best presented separately, since they're both important and both represent major goals for readers. Also, the way the sentence currently reads, it's not technically clear what is meant by "when it is most effectively used." Grammatically, "it" could refer to qualitative data analysis OR content analysis, depending on how the reader interprets this sentence. Consider revising to something like:
"Learners will be able to:
Explain defining features of content analysis as a strategy for analyzing qualitative data.
Determine when content analysis can be most effectively used."
A few exemplars of studies employing Thematic Analysis:
I appreciate the author's inclusion of exemplars here. Is there a way to thread some of these exemplars into the main bodies of text in the Thematic Analysis sections? Some readers may tend to skip over these end-of-section details, in my experience.
Below is an illustration of a thematic map shared in a helpful article by Maguire and Delahunt (2017) that walks learners through conducting a thematic analysis, step-by-step
While I do think this thematic map graphic can be useful for readers, I also think some continuity can help clarify the main points and recommended action steps in the larger Thematic Analysis section. Instead of including a graphic illustrating a thematic map unrelated to the previous hypothetical example, perhaps we can include a thematic map graphic illustrating how to apply this concept to the example focusing on the project with people "in a vocational preparation program" (under Identifying, Reviewing, and Refining Themes section). This kind of continuity will, I think, help readers grasp concepts and illustrate how students might apply different elements of thematic analysis to a single/unified project thread. I think it may still be useful to include the Maguire & Delahunt (2017) example, since it shows how thematic maps appear in the literature - but maybe we can also loop in the vocational prep program project example to preserve continuity.
providing a stagnate list of themes may not really tell the whole story of your study.
The descriptor "stagnate" threw me off a bit here - perhaps revise to include a different descriptor or additional details? This may clarify the author's point as students first read this section.
Identifying, reviewing, and refining themes
This section is definitely helpful in that it provides a concrete, practical example of a scenario directly involving this section's presented material/info. Because this section is relatively lengthy and detailed, perhaps we can include a simple graphic or table - similar to the table under "Coding Data" (interview with Susan Hanks, PhD) - to illustrate the example visually.
While you are shifting codes and relabeling categories, track this!
In addition to the research journal as a possible place to track coding and labeling categories, perhaps we can also include a suggestion to track coding and relabeling via spreadsheet. Some students may prefer to record thoughts, reactions, and personal reflections in the research journal, but may tend to track more concrete editing/coding info in a spreadsheet (which often allows for quicker/easier tracking).
You may review and refine the groups of your codes many times during the course of your analysis
Is this an example of an iterative approach? If so, perhaps we can make a reference to iterative approaches here, using this example as a way to make concrete the previously presented, slightly abstract concept of iterative research.
For example, you are studying the experience of people who are in a vocational preparation program and you have codes labeled “worrying about paying the bills” and “loss of benefits”.
Great use of a concrete example to clarify elements of thematic analysis. Also helps students internalize practical tips and tools.
To highlight this as a hypothetical example, perhaps revise to something like:
"For example, let's say you're studying the experience of individuals in a vocational preparation program, and you have codes..."
First, we want to identify groups of codes that hang together or seem to be related to one another.
Perhaps start a new paragraph with this sentence, and also link the suggested action steps to the broader effort. For example, the new paragraph could start with something like:
"As we refine our thematic analysis, our first step will be to identify groups of codes that hang together or seem related."
Now we have our codes, we need to find a way to put them together in a way that makes sense, remember we want to narrow this vast field of hundreds of codes down to a handful of themes; otherwise the story we are attempting to tell with our data becomes distracting and diffuse.
Consider revising this potentially overly-lengthy sentence for easier readability. Perhaps revise to something like:
"Now that we have our codes, we need to find a sensible way of putting them together. Remember, we want to narrow this vast field of hundreds of codes down to a small handful of themes. If we don't review and refine all those codes, the story we're trying to tell with our data becomes distracting and diffuse."
The following is an excerpt from a PBS interview transcript with Dr. Susan Hanks.
It may be helpful for readers if this sentence begins a new paragraph, thus making this important example more of a stand-apart subsection and facilitating easier reading/quicker reference.
A couple things to note here.
Perhaps begin a new paragraph with this sentence to visually break up this content into more manageable, easier-to-read chunks.
Might we change the text color or format to highlight/indicate the term a priori?
Instead of stating "(like we discussed in Chapter 6)", perhaps we can provide a direct link to that chapter.
Some thematic analysis takes on an inductive approach, meaning we start with all the separate little pieces of data we are left with after we have deconstructed our data by breaking into small segments that seem to represent distinct ideas
For further clarity, perhaps this sentence can be revised such that the prescribed progression of action steps is more evident. Perhaps revise to something like:
"Some thematic analysis takes on an inductive approach. For example, after we deconstruct our data into small segments representing distinct ideas, we may then start to analyze all the resultant separate little pieces of data."
e.g. their mosque, their VFW Post, their Queer book club
Good use of examples to emphasize diversity/cultural sensitivity
Let’s say that you are studying empowerment of older adults in assisted living facilities by interviewing residents in a number of these facilities.
Great use of an example that will likely connect with students' real-world experiences. This example also contextualizes and provides a concrete platform for info in this section.
Especially because each of these approaches
Because this particular subsection is visually separate from previous sections describing "these approaches" in detail, perhaps consider revising or providing direct link(s) to reminder readers what is specifically meant by "these approaches."
Document your thoughts and feelings throughout the research process; how are you reacting to the research process? Information in this category helps to account for your role during the analysis.
Perhaps consider revisions to summarize and clarify important points. Suggested edits:
"Document your thoughts, feelings, and reactions throughout the research process. This will promote transparency and help account for your role in the analysis."
Perhaps provide a direct link back to the codebook section for quick reader reference.
you will start to develop and evolve your understanding of the data.
Perhaps revise for concision/clarity -
"During the review and memoing processes, our understanding of the data often evolves as we observe patterns and trends."
Will you approach to analysis reflect more of a linear or an iterative approach? As you are conceptualizing your research process at this time – is it more linear or iterative?
The first prompt ("Will your approach to analysis reflect more of a linear or an iterative approach?") and the second prompt ("As you are conceptualizing your research process...") - these seem to be asking the same question. I'm not sure about the author's intent here - are these two separate questions asking about the nature of the analysis as well as the nature of the general research project?
Another observation: the sub-questions seem to basically be asking the same question, or at least prompting readers to think about the same decision-making process. Perhaps we can collapse these two questions into a single prompt. The second one ("What justifies or supports this decision...") gets at the same information.
Will you approach to analysis reflect more of a linear or an iterative approach?
The repeated use of "approach" in this Decision Point sentence threw me off a bit. I think we could perhaps just say:
"Will your analysis reflect more of a linear or an iterative approach?"
However, this defined nature also presents the challenge, it is a more rigid approach, assuming that we know what we need to ask/look for at the very beginning of data collection which often is not the case.
There are multiple important concepts strung together in this single sentence. Perhaps consider breaking this sentence apart into more manageable/readable chunks. For example, a revision might look something like:
"However, linear research, with its more defined nature and rigid approach, also presents certain challenges. A linear approach assumes that we know what we need to ask or look for at the very beginning of data collection, which is often not the case. With iterative research, we have more flexibility to adapt our approach as we learn new things. We still need to find ways to keep our approach systematic and organized, however, so that our work doesn't become a free-for-all. As we adapt, we don't want to stray too far from the original premise of our study. It's also important to remember with an iterative approach that we may risk ethical concerns if our work extends beyond the original boundaries of our informed consent and IRB agreement."
The definition provided for "linear" is helpful. Perhaps in the definition text box we can also give or link to an example of linear qualitative research - something to illustrate how this concept is articulated in an actual research project/published study.
Perhaps it would be beneficial for readers if a direct link were provided (link "qualitative sampling" to the relevant chapter so readers can quickly and directly reference back to that part of the text)
Correction: instead of "than," revise to:
"Then, think about the noun(s) you need to pair with your verb(s)..."
Think about verb(s) – do you need to summarize, compare, describe, examine, outline, identify, review, compose, develop, illustrate, etc.
To clarify the connection between this prompt and students' research projects, perhaps explicitly note the link with a revision like:
"Think about action verb(s) associated with your project and the qualitative data you're collecting: Does your research aim to summarize, compare, describe, examine, outline, identify, review, compose, develop, illustrate, etc.?"
In the most general sense, qualitative data analysis is about the deconstruction and reconstruction of data, breaking stories or bits of stories apart and putting them back together.
This particular sentence may be a bit repetitive, since this information was presented nearly verbatim in an earlier section. I think this subsection could end with "Whatever your aim, you need to have a plan for what you'll do when the data starts coming in."
The question posed at the beginning of this paragraph is a good place to begin.
It may be helpful to reiterate or rephrase "the question posed at the beginning of this paragraph." Perhaps we can add a sentence like:
"Think about the reasons for selecting a qualitative approach, as well as your ultimate purpose for conducting your research."
To address this, it is especially important early on, in our recruitment efforts and in our informed consent process, that we educate our participants on what the research will involve and that we thoughtfully consider what risks may be involved, not just to the individual, but to the community at large.
Because this sentence includes multiple important points, it may be helpful to break it up into separate statements. Perhaps consider revising to something like:
"To address this, it's especially important early in our recruitment efforts and during the informed consent process to educate our participants on what the research will involve. We also need to thoughtfully consider what risks may be involved - not just to the individual, but also to the community at large."
recruitment efforts and in our informed consent process
Might it be helpful to provide links to previous sections on "recruitment efforts" and the "informed consent" process?
While they might be (and often are) excited to be part of this larger discussion on this topic,
Perhaps make an explicit reference to "our research topic" earlier in this sentence to add clarity. Instead of initially stating "...part of this larger discussion on this topic." perhaps revise to something like:
"While they might be (and often are) excited to be part of a larger discussion about our research topic, they could also be concerned with what other people might say about our topic and how this could impact their community."
it is helpful to consider how this might be perceived by participants
Just for the sake of clarity in this sentence, perhaps consider making an explicit reference instead of saying "...how this might be perceived by participants." It may be helpful for readers if this sentence were revised to look something like:
"In our attempt to tell a broader story that incorporates the experiences of perspectives of many people, it's helpful to consider how our data compilation methods might be perceived by participants."
using member checking (referenced above and in our chapter on qualitative rigor)
Might we provide an explicit link to a more formal definition for "member checking"?
Now, some research approaches, particular participatory approaches, suggest that participants should be trained and actively engaged throughout the research process, including analysis, however, this is the exception, not the rule.
To help readers more easily digest content in this subsection, consider revising into separate sentences that might look something like this:
"Now, some research approaches, particularly participatory approaches, suggest that participants should be trained and actively engaged during analysis and throughout the research process. This, however, is the exception, not the rule."
We need to consider that our findings represent ideas that are shared with us by living and breathing human beings. They have been gracious enough to share their time and their stories with us, yet they often have a limited role once we gather data from them. They are essentially putting their trust in us that we won’t be misrepresenting or culturally appropriating their stories in ways that will be harmful, damaging, or demeaning.
This is a powerful, clear, straightforward introductory statement for this subsection. I think it might be even stronger if allotted its own separate paragraph. For example, if we accord the highlighted section its own space and begin a new paragraph with "Now, some research approaches, particularly participatory approaches...." - this could serve to further emphasize the main point of the introduction and also break up this subsection's text into more manageable chunks.
Their life experiences may be quite different from our own, and because of this, the meaning in their stories may be very different then what we might initially expect.
Might we provide a real-world example here to clarify the effect that selective perception or confirmation bias may have on the qualitative research process? While this is an important idea to include in the chapter, I think that some kind of concrete example of how cultural humility (or lack thereof) can impact the research process might be a good way to help students understand the importance of cultural humility.
We also can use activities like member checking, another tool to support qualitative rigor, to ensure that our findings are accurately interpreted by vetting them with our participants prior to concluding our study.
Reading this particular subsection on "member checking," I wasn't quite sure what this term refers to. Perhaps we can include a link, a more formal definition, or a clearer/more concrete example of "member checking" as a tool for qualitative research enhancement. Might a Student Example, or an example from the author's own research/professional experience, serve this purpose?
requires that we approach the task of analysis with a sense of cultural humility, meaning that we don’t assume that our perspective or world-view as the researcher is the same as our participants.
Good link to earlier chapter's emphasis on cultural humility and ethical considerations for qualitative researchers.
Related to the preceding discussion about deconstructing stories,
The way this particular section's introductory sentence is worded, it may be a bit confusing for some readers. Instead of formally referring to the "preceding discussion" which (from my humble perspective) seems to suggest that a larger section previously discussed this issue at length, perhaps revise to something like:
"Similar to the ethical considerations we need to keep in mind as we deconstruct stories, we also need to work diligently to understand the cultural context in which these stories are shared."
We have an ethical responsibility to treat what is shared with us by participants with a sense of respect during this process of deconstruction and reconstruction. This means that we make conscientious efforts not to twist, change, or subvert the meaning of bits of data as we break them down or as we string them back together.
Good section reinforcing similar points emphasized in earlier chapter(s). While this section is not redundant, it does dovetail nicely with previous sections focusing on ethical issues in qualitative research.
in the act of qualitative data analysis
As a student reader, I think "in the act" is perhaps too formal and, at least from my perspective, clashes somewhat with the overall tone of previous chapters. Perhaps we can revise to something like:
"Identify how researchers can conduct ethically responsible qualitative data analysis."
Just a brief disclaimer, this chapter is not intended to be a comprehensive resource on qualitative data analysis. It does offer you an overview of some of the diverse approaches that can be used for qualitative data analysis, but as you will read, even within each one of these approaches there is variation in how they might be implemented in a given project. If you are passionate (or at least curious 😊) about conducting qualitative research, use this as a beginning point to help you to dive deeper into some of these strategies. Before we begin reviewing some of these strategies, here a few considerations regarding ethics, cultural responsibility, and power and control that should influence your thinking and planning as you map out your data analysis plan.
Solid, concise, easy-to-understand but still sufficiently detailed introduction to this chapter.
When obtaining permission, get something in writing, so that you have this handy to submit with your IRB application
I appreciate the author's overall consistency as far as linking important usage permissions and related considerations to the researcher's required IRB applications. I think this helps students remember that any research project they plan may be subject to IRB approval. Thinking about required permissions, and proactively considering strategies to gain IRB approval, are useful skills for student researchers.
Capturing your data.
The example graphic below - Pride Rock, Simba, Mufasa - is an excellent way to use humor while simultaneously providing a helpful example and emphasizing important concepts.
This means being conscious of your behaviors, your dress and overall appearance. Know the environment that you are making your observations in, with a goal of blending in as much as possible.
What are some practical examples of using intentional dress/overall appearance to "blend in as much as possible"? Giving a few brief examples here will, I think, help students clearly grasp the author's point.
This means actually spending time with the community that is the focus of your observation to develop a reasonable framework of understanding for you to interpret what you are seeing and making sure it is consistent.
Consider revising this sentence to give this important point a bit more clarity. Perhaps revise to something like:
"This means actually spending time within the community that is the focus of your observation. Taking the time to make repeated observations will allow you to develop a reasonable framework of understanding, which in turn will empower you to better interpret what you see and help you determine whether your observations are consistent."
When taking field notes, it is a good practice to make a quick seating chart at the beginning so you can make quick references for yourself of who is saying what.
Good inclusion of a practical focus group prep strategy
If you are relying solely on a recording and there is a problem with it, it becomes very problematic.
Repetitive use of the root word "problem" is perhaps not sufficiently descriptive in this instance. Consider revising to something like:
"If you rely solely on a recording and there's a technical problem with the equipment, this can become very disruptive to the focus group and may consume valuable time you'd otherwise have to gather data from participants."
Another important expectation to address that is especially important to include when utilizing focus groups is confidentiality
While the Focus Group Guide does mention "confidential participation," it doesn't elaborate re: how a researcher might explain confidentiality to focus group participants. Perhaps we can include an example of a brief, standard confidentiality statement - a sort of boilerplate template for students to use as they think about how to discuss confidentiality with research participants.
Some common norms to include are:
I think students will appreciate the inclusion of common focus group norms. Good way to link real-world experience and practical considerations with the concepts and terms presented in this chapter.
Roles of the researcher(s).
As I was reading this section, I wondered whether the main facilitator and the observer should or could ever switch roles, either during any particular focus group session or across different sessions. Perhaps this question can be briefly addressed in future drafts.
For instance, if we are asking questions about help seeking and common experiences after (heterosexual) sexual assault, it may be challenging to host a mixed gender group, where participants may feel triggered or guarded having members of the opposite gender present and less open to sharing. It is important to consider the population you are working with and what types of questions you are asking them, as this can help you to be sensitive to their perceptions and in creating an environment where it feels safe to share.
Great inclusion of a real-world example to highlight an important point
As a cautionary note, the advantages discussed above should be the reason you choose to use a focus group to collect data, not convenience.
This is certainly an important point. May want to consider revising slightly to clarify. Perhaps revise to something like:
"As a cautionary note, the advantages discussed above should be the primary reasons for your choice to use a focus group for data collection. Convenience should not be the driving factor if and when you select focus groups as a data collection strategy."
If the participant does become upset or affected by their participation in the interview we may help facilitate their connection with appropriate supportive services to address this, such as counseling or crisis numbers (and indeed, this is our ethical obligation as a competent and caring researcher), however counseling and treatment is not our responsibility and we should be very careful not to confuse it as such.
To make sure the text is aligned with current social work terminology, consider revising to something like the following:
"...we may help facilitate their connection with appropriate resources, such as counseling or crisis supports. Indeed, this is our ethical obligation as competent and caring researchers. Counseling and treatment, however, are not our direct responsibilities as researchers, and we must be very careful not to confuse research and clinical roles."
(replacement of the original terms "counseling or crisis numbers" with "counseling or crisis supports or contacts will help align text with social work terminology. Actually, this is not necessarily a terminology problem, per se, but more of a practical usage issue. We usually need to provide more than contact numbers; we may need to provide descriptions of available resources, service types, etc.).
We are usually relatively unfamiliar with our participants, at least on a personal level. This can make sitting down for an interview where we might be asking some deep questions a bit awkward and uncomfortable, at least at first. Because of this, we want to craft our questions in such a way that they are not off-putting, inadvertently accusatory or judgmental, or culturally insensitive. To accomplish this we want to make sure we phrase questions in a neutral tone (e.g. “Tell me what that was like”, as opposed to, “That sounds horrible, what was that like”). To accomplish this we can shift perspectives and think about what it would be like for us to be asked these questions (especially by a stranger), and we can pilot test our questions to see how they ‘feel’ to others. Also, if we are conducting interviews on topics that may be particularly hard for people to talk about, we likely will want to start out with some questions that are easier to address prior to getting into the heavier topics. Make them relatable Unlike surveys, where researchers may not be able to explain the meaning of question, when conducting interviews, we are present to help further explain questions if there is some confusion. However, ideally our questions are as clear as possible from the beginning. This means that we avoid jargon or technical terms, we anticipate areas that might be hard to explain and try to provide some examples or a metaphor that might help to get the point across, and we do our homework to relay our questions in a cultural context that is appropriate. Like the discussion above, pilot testing our questions can be very helpful for ensuring the relatability of our questions, especially with community representatives. What sounds good in our heads as a question, might make little sense to our intended audience. Make them individually distinct, but collectively comprehensive Just like when we are developing survey questions, you don’t want to ask more than one question at the same time. This is confusing and hard to respond to for the participant, so make sure you are only asking about one idea in each question. However, when you are thinking about your list of questions, or your whole interview guide collectively, ensure that you have comprehensively included all the ideas related to your topic. It’s extremely disheartening as a qualitative researcher that has concluded their interviews and realized there was a really important area that you failed to include in your guide. To avoid this, make sure to know the literature in your area well and talk to other people who study this area to get there perspective on what topics need to be included.
This table is a great review resource for student readers. However, perhaps the text can be formatted differently or broken up to facilitate quick review. Can we organize important points as bullet points rather than complete sentences? This may make for easier reader review.
Probes suggest that we are anticipating that certain areas may be relevant to our question.
Does the use of probes carry any risk of selective perception or confirmation bias? If so, may want to mention this briefly here.
When interviewing participants with the broad, unstructured question “What does wellness mean in your life?”, I might use these eight dimensions (i.e. emotional, spiritual, intellectual, physical, environmental, financial, occupational, and social) as probes to explore if/how these dimensions might be relevant in the lives of these participants.
Great use of examples from author's own research to highlight concepts presented in the text
There's a lot of detail re: interview guides. Might it be possible to provide an example interview guide, or the outline of a working interview guide - or even a link to an existing interview guide? Although the text reviews in detail what interview guides should include, I think it may be helpful for students to have an example of what everything looks like - what all the considerations add up to - when pieced together in a functional interview guide document.
If we are using a highly structured interview guide, this suggests we are learning towards deductive science – we have a pretty good idea based on existing evidence what we are looking for and what questions we want to ask to help us test our existing understanding. If we are using an unstructured guide, this suggests we are learning towards an inductive science approach – we start by trying to get people to elaborate extensively on open-ended questions to provide us with data that we will use to develop our understanding of this topic.
Good references to previously introduced concepts. Linking scientific approaches with interview guide styles is a great way to facilitate student internalization of connections between important concepts.
you may choose to meet at your office
I remember reading in my Group Practice MSW class text that office settings may involve inherent power imbalances, and that the physical office layout can emphasize or de-emphasize such imbalances. Because this and other chapters remind students to think about power dynamics of researcher-participant interactions, perhaps we can add something about striving toward power-balanced physical office layouts if and when interviews are conducted in office settings. (As an example: The actions required to ease power imbalances in this environment are relatively straightforward: Instead of a researcher sitting behind a desk and having the participant sit opposite in a different sized/styled chair, arrange the chairs across from each other, with no person behind a desk.)
Interviewing in-person allows you to capture important non-verbal and contextual information that will likely be limited if you choose to conduct your interview via phone or video.
Perhaps we can list a few brief examples here to make this point a bit less abstract/vague. What specific non-verbal or contextual information might be limited during a phone or video interview? And how might the non-verbal/contextual info benefit the researcher and/or participant?
or other dyads, combinations of two people
We should probably format key terms in a certain color/font to clarify the introduction of specific terms. For example, this sentence might read: "...(or other dyads, combinations of two people)" to highlight the term's introduction and definition.
Data Gathering Strategy Strengths Challenges
This review table will definitely be useful for students. I imagine this will often be used as a reference point for students considering which data collection strategy to employ for their projects.
As a reminder, saturation is the point at which no new ideas or concepts are being presented as you continue to collect new pieces of data
Good reference to previously introduced terminology.
These responses to what you are learning
Though I do understand (I think) what the author is trying to say here, perhaps a slight change in wording would clear this sentence up a bit. Beginning this sentence with "These responses..." was confusing perhaps because I first interpreted the word "responses" as the answers participants provided during the hypothetical interview. Perhaps revise to something like:
"Your emotional and intellectual reactions to what you learn during an interview may lead you to consider pursuing a slightly different line of questioning. You might highlight or de-emphasize certain aspects of the interview. Your personal reactions to what happens as you collect data are important and may influence your work."
Remember, qualitative research is a labor-intensive venture. While it may not require lots of fancy equipment, it requires a significant investment of people’s time and potentially other resources (e.g. space, incentives for participants, transportation). Each source of data (interviews, focus groups, observations, other artifacts), will require separate planning as you approach data gathering.
Nice summary review of benefits, costs, and work surrounding qualitative research. Wording is straightforward, and important ideas are easily digestible.
In other sections we discuss participatory research approaches, in these cases, there is much more of an intentional effort to more equally distribute the benefits of these relationships.
May want to provide a direct link to the participatory research section of the textbook
It is a resource that participants own that they choose to share with us.
Again - interesting and helpful way to conceptualize intellectual ownership and sharing. To emphasize and clearly illustrate this point, perhaps we can include a brief example, which might read something like this:
"It is a resource that participants own that they choose to share with us. Think about it: When a smart phone app or computer program wants your personal data, you're usually asked to read a privacy statement and agree to certain terms. Companies are legally required to notify you about their intentions to use the data you may share. And many companies certainly recognize that your data is a valuable resource. As researchers, we have similar responsibilities."
As we are thinking about going out in the world to gather data, I think it can be helpful to think about the data that is shared with us a resource.
Great point about conceptualizing shared data as a resource. This is an important and helpful way for researchers to think about the information they get from participants. However - the repetitive use of the word "think" in this sentence threw me off a bit. Perhaps revise to something like:
"As we're thinking about going out into the world to gather data, it may be helpful to conceptualize the data that is shared with us as a resource."
This needs to be tempered with humility by allowing participants to show us if and how what we think we know about their community might apply to them as individuals.
I sense that the author is making an important point here, but I'm not certain about the specifics. Perhaps revising the wording/sentence structure here will provide some clarity. Is this sentence saying that we should examine our own biases so that we do our best to avoid selective perception? And/or is this sentence saying that we need to be open enough to allow participants to express views that might not align with our preconceived notions? I think the wording could be tweaked so that the main point shines through. Perhaps a real-world example might help illustrate the author's point.
Ensuring that when data is not being used it appropriately stored and locked so that people outside the research team don’t have access to it Ensuring that when data is being used it is not in a space (in person or virtual) where people outside the research team can view it
These two bullet points are potentially redundant. Is there a way to combine the second point into the structure of the first bullet point's sentence?
Explain special considerations for researcher that accompany the collection of qualitative data
This wording might be a bit confusing. Perhaps revise to something like:
"Explain the special considerations researchers should keep in mind as they design qualitative studies and collect qualitative data."
In the example provided above
May want to link directly to this example, since it originally appeared a while ago in terms of reading time
While it isn’t important that you have an extensive understanding of them all at this point in time
Just to have the main text express encouragement and to avoid giving readers the sense that any concepts should be discarded, perhaps we can revise the wording here. Consider revising to something like:
"While you don't necessarily need to have an extensive understanding of them all at this point in time, it is important that you understand which of the different design types are best for answering certain research questions."
You will likely eventually break these larger hunks of data apart in your analysis into words or small phrases giving you potentially thousands of pieces of data.
It may be helpful to provide a brief example here. A Student Example box, or a hypothetical scenario included in the main text, could clarify how researchers "break these larger hunks of data apart."
May want to expand on this a bit to clarify the nature of Al-Anon. Not all students will be familiar with this organization, so perhaps a brief explanation will be helpful here. Perhaps revise to something like:
"As an example, let's say you're interested in studying the experiences of family members who have a loved one struggling with substance use. To aid in your recruitment for this study, you enlist the help of a local person who does a lot of work with Al-Anon, an organization facilitating mutual support groups for individuals and families affected by alcoholism."
(Also: note replacement of original phrase "loved one with a substance addiction" to "loved one struggling with substance use." This will help the text align with current social work terminology.
Public recruitment is most likely to be associated with convenience or quota sampling and is unlikely to be used with purposive or snowball sampling, where we need some knowledge of people and the characteristics they possess in advance.
Good references to previous material in this chapter. Linking these ideas about sampling methods and recruitment strategies can be very helpful for students as they think about project design. Also, referring back to previously presented info helps readers absorb important information.
Now, not every study requires a research protocol, but what I’m suggesting here is that you consider constructing at least a limited one to help though the decisions you will need to make to construct your qualitative study.
The conversational tone is effective here. I would suggest, however, that we remove or revise the word "Now" in this first sentence. The way the sentence reads, it could seem to some readers as if not every study currently requires a research protocol, but this was a past requirement.
Emergent design is the idea that some decision in our design will be dynamic and change as our understanding of the research question evolves as we go through the research process.
May want to revise this sentence a bit for clarity. Perhaps revise to something like:
"Emergent design is the idea that our initial research design is dynamic, and may change as we go through the research process and our understanding of the research question evolves."
(I think what threw me off a bit was the phrase "...some decision in our design" - this is the main part I would suggest tweaking for clarity.)
Sampling Type Brief Description Convenience/ Availability You gather data from whatever cases/people/documents happen to be convenient Purposive You seek out elements that meet specific criteria, representing different perspectives Snowball You rely on participant referrals to recruit new participants Quota You select a designated number of cases from specified subgroups Sampling Type Strengths Challenges Convenience/ Availability Allows us to draw sample from participants who are most readily available/accessible Sample may be biased and may represent limited or skewed diversity in characteristics of participants Purposive Ensures that specific expertise, positions, or experiences are represented in sample participants It may be challenging to define purposive criteria or to locate cases that represent these criteria; restricts our potential sampling pool Snowball Accesses participant social network and community knowledge Can be helpful in gaining access to difficult to reach populations May be hard to locate initial small group of participants, concerns over privacy – people might not want to share contacts, process may be slow or drawn-out Quota Helps to ensure specific characteristics are represented and defines quantity of each Can be challenging to fill quotas, especially for subgroups that might be more difficult to locate or reluctant to participate
Very helpful summary tables - great way to review chapter info
You student leaders
Action verb missing - add "select" to clarify (?)
Convenience or availability
Well-written, easy-to-understand summary of convenience/availability sampling.
Use "who" instead of "that" to keep the focus and style aligned with person-centered social work values
I do understand (I think) what the author was saying here. The sheer number of apostrophes in the parenthetical part of this sentence, however, threw me off a bit. Perhaps reword for clarity/simplicity.
Qualitative research generally exists on the idiographic end of this continuum. We are most often seeking to obtain a rich, deep, detailed understanding from a relatively small group of people.
Great way to bring topics together under a single easy-to-understand conceptual umbrella. Helpful conclusion for this section.
These two categories exist as opposite extremes on a continuum.
I would suggest that we begin a new paragraph with the sentence "These two categories..."
We may also want to very briefly reiterate the relevant topics. For example, the first sentence of the new paragraph might read something like "Idiographic and nomothetic research represent two different research categories existing at opposite extremes on a continuum."
Not sure how the linked term "generalizable findings" fits into this particular sentence - a typo, perhaps? If this term was intended to be included in this paragraph, we may want to add an extra/separate sentence to clarify and contextualize.
case study examining the experiences of youth who is transgender and their family in a rural mid-western community
As I was reading this idiographic study example, I wasn't sure whether the example pertained to a single youth/family or multiple youth and family groups. Perhaps we can revise the wording a bit to clarify here.
Suggested revision: "For example, an idiographic study might be a good approach for a case study examining the experiences of a transgender youth and her family living in a rural Midwestern state. Data for this idiographic study would be collected from a range of sources, including (*provide examples of appropriate sources), to gain a very holistic picture of this family's experiences."
Examples of utilizing existing artifacts might include studying the cultural context of movie portrayals of African American families or analyzing publicly available town hall meeting minutes to explore expressions of social capital.
Perhaps we can expand a bit on these examples by highlighting them in a separate Student Example box. This may be a useful way to briefly explain what is meant by the earlier statement "...and remember, you want your sample of artifacts to reflect the diversity of perspectives that you have outlined for your study." Also, I think that a Student Example could bring this important hypothetical scenario to life and keep readers engaged.
Your choice of which artifacts you choose to include will be driven by your question, and remember, you want your sample of artifacts to reflect the diversity of perspectives that you have outlined for your study.
It may be helpful to include here a Student Example box with a hypothetical scenario involving a student project using artifacts to answer a qualitative research question. Particularly when I read the last sentence of the paragraph - "...you want your sample of artifacts to reflect the diversity of perspectives that you've outlined for your study" - I wasn't quite sure exactly what this would mean for a student research project.
Instead of "grasp" an understanding, we might say "build or "enhance understanding of societal values and opinions." To align with social work values, the text should emphasize (albeit subtly, in this case, but still importantly) that researchers won't necessarily come to grasp a comprehensive cultural/social understanding of some particular topic. The primary research goal, from my perspective, is to improve understanding - with a key recognition that no understanding is ever "perfect" or "complete,"
(Recognizing that this comment may be overly nitpicky, I did nevertheless want to mention my perspective about the word choice for this sentence.)
Video "captures" - to what is this referring, specifically? Does this mean video recordings? May want to provide a brief explanation or alternative word choice here.
If you do opt for this, make sure that you are not violating anyone’s right to privacy.
May want to include a few concrete examples here. How problematic/ethical would it be for a student to collect observational data during a Narcotics Anonymous meeting, for example? Or during a religious gathering/ceremony? How about a city council meeting? We could provide just a couple/few specific real-world examples to make this point more engaging to readers.
our take on this situation may vary drastically from that of another person observing the same thing.
Perhaps the author could include a brief example of their own experience here. Earlier in the chapter, I thought the author's side note about mental health field experiencing leading to research bias was helpful and engaging. A note here from the author - a brief story from the field, perhaps - might serve to bring home the key point in this paragraph in a way that resonates with students.
For instance, a qualitative researcher may conduct observations of how mothers and children interact in a hospital setting on child and adolescent cancer units, and take notes about where exchanges take place, topics of conversation, nonverbal information, and data about the setting itself – what the unit looks like, how it is arranged, the lighting, photos on the wall.
Perhaps this "for instance" can be formatted as a Student Example. By framing this hypothetical scenario in the context of a student research project, readers may be further empowered to imagine how they themselves might collect observational data for their own projects. The same example details would be included - just in a different format.
there may be challenges to you, as a student gathering verbal data directly from people most directly effected by an issue.
Word repetition in this sentence may be a bit confusion for some readers. Consider revising to something like:
"As noted above, participant willingness and honesty can present challenges for qualitative researchers. You may face similar challenges as a student gathering verbal data directly from participants who have been personally affected by an issue of import to your research topic/question."
The first part of the revision suggestion reiterates key points from the previous paragraph. Then, the revised sentence avoids repeated use of the word "directly" so that the concepts and wording are explicitly separated and thus clearer.
The researcher who schedules interviews with public assistance recipients to capture their experience after a legislation drastically changes their requirements for receiving benefits relies on the verbal data shared with them.
I think this important point could perhaps be more clearly explained/worded. I think that if we separately identify the researcher's topic of interest and research approach, we'll bring some added clarity to this hypothetical scenario. Here's how I might revise this sentence to clarify core concepts and explain links between ideas:
"Let's say, for example, that a researcher wants to learn about the experiences of public assistance recipients after federal legislation drastically changes the requirements for receiving benefits. This researcher might schedule interviews to capture verbal data shared by participants. The researcher relies on the data he or she may capture as participants talk about their personal stories, experiences, and reactions to the federal legislation."
*The above revision suggestion references the "personal stories" of participants - which could be a good way to naturally reiterate this chapter's earlier points about qualitative research focusing in part on the stories of research subjects.
Because of this, as you are reviewing the sections below, think about accessible alternative sources of data that will still allow you to practically answer your research question and I’ll try to provide some examples to get you started along the way.
May want to consider breaking this sentence up into 2 separate parts. For example, could revise to something like "Because of this, as you are reviewing the sections below, think about accessible alternative data sources that will still allow you to practically answer your research question. I'll try to provide some examples to get you started along the way."
The above suggested revision would preserve the informal tone of this section and perhaps more clearly emphasize the main point about considering alternative data sources.
6 months prior and a year after the employer closed
To emphasize how students will need to present data in their formal papers, I think we might want to use consistent formatting here. For example, if we revise to something like "...analysis of media coverage 6 months prior and 12 months after the employer closed," this may (subtly) encourage students to embrace the need for clear and consistent formatting in written research article sections.
My years as a mental health practitioner created biases for me that influence my approach to research.
If the author added one or two examples of how bias has actually affected their research approaches, I think this could be a great way to operationalize bias and related risks, which in turn would help students internalize these important concepts.
In what ways might you be biased about this topic?
I like the author's addition here. Reminding students to strive for thoughtful approaches to these exercise questions/suggested activities is a great way to keep readers engaged.
it may be shaping the study
Consider revising to something like "...and how these may influence or shape a study"
As such, as you go about recruiting for your qualitative studies, remember that people are made of multiple stories, of intersectional identities.
(I have not perused every chapter, so please take this comment with a grain of salt - I recognize that perhaps additional material is elsewhere included in the text)
This part of the paragraph about intersectionality lacks context and clarity, I think, because there aren't concrete links between fairly abstract ideas and real-world examples. Perhaps we can add a Student Example box here that gives a couple/few examples of how researchers or students may encounter issues of intersectionality in the field/in their work)
As qualitative researchers, we are often not looking to uncover one truth or hard facts about something. We are generally seeking to expand our understanding of the breadth and depth of human experience.
Good way to reiterate core concepts. Though this point is a repetition of an earlier-presented theme, it does not seem repetitive here and flows naturally in the chapter's progression.
Perhaps we are able to engage a community advisory group in aiding us in our research/recruitment planning, we can revise the aims of our study based on consultation with community gatekeeper to be more aligned with the needs and concerns of the community, maybe we can even higher community members as co-researchers as part of our research team.
May want to break this sentence up a bit to aid reader comprehension. Perhaps revise to something like:
"Perhaps we are able to engage a community advisory group in aiding our research and recruitment planning. Based on consultation with community gatekeepers, perhaps we can revise the aims of our student to better align with community needs and concerns. Maybe we can even hire community members as co-researchers on our team."
I think repetition and specifics here might be a good way to emphasize key takeaways. Perhaps revise to something like "As researchers, we need to treat research participants and their stories with respect and humility."
Because of this, I think we need to take special care to treat these stories as sacred and we go about asking for people to share them, we need to do so humbly.
May want to break this sentence into 2 separate statements to emphasize this important point. Could perhaps revise to something like "Because of this, we need to take special care to treat these stories as sacred. As we go about asking for people to share their stories, we need to do so humbly."
By failing to address this, the inadvertent exclusion of older adult voices from your data could be disempowering for this subgroup
(Not really a social work terminology issue, but rather a social work concepts/values note)
To emphasize social work commitment to diversity and inclusion, perhaps we can add to this sentence a bit. We could potentially revise to something like "...could be disempowering for this subgroup, and could limit the inclusion of valuable perspectives from your study."
how many are represented in your sample
This might just be a personal preference, but I stumbled a bit with the wording here. Perhaps we can revise to something like "...and this is likely to affect how the larger community is represented in your sample" or "...and this is likely to limit focus group participation, which in turn may affect how the larger community and target population are represented in your sample."
Would the term "Latinx" apply here?
assure there is fair distribution of risks and benefits related to our research, be conscientious in our recruitment efforts to support equitable representation, and that we ensure special protections to vulnerable groups involved in research activities. As you plan your qualitative research study sampling plan, make sure to consider who is invited and able to participate and who is not.
While this is certainly useful information, I think the sentence/paragraph structure may be a bit too dense to allow for adequate reader concept absorption. Is there a way to break down these 3 concepts into a more reader-friendly bulleted or numbered list? For example, instead of the current format/structure, we might present these topics in the following way:
"Within this context, we need to:
(1) Assure there is a fair distribution of risks and benefits related to our research;
(2) Be conscientious in our recruitment efforts to support equitable representation; and
(3) Ensure special protections for vulnerable groups involved in research activities."
Then, perhaps we could begin a new paragraph with the sentence "As you plan your qualitative research study sampling method, make sure to consider..."
I think the above might be helpful for readers who are better able to absorb content in smaller, more visually bite-sized chunks. Anyway, just a thought!
Recruitment and sampling is especially tied to our ethical mandate as researchers to uphold the principle of justice under the Belmont Report.
Another good example of connecting previous chapter material to the topic at hand - I think this helps students absorb information. Repeating previously presented information in new contexts/chapters always helps me internalize important concepts.
Perhaps we can find a way to incorporate more formal research terminology in the context of this Student Example. For instance, we might revise this sentence to something like "She arrived at her research question after listening to many of the residents..." In this way, we could include a particular element of the MSW student research project (generating a formal research question) into this Student Example, thereby potentially helping students form concrete ideas about the decisions required for their own projects.
Qualitative research is situated most often (though not exclusively) in an interpretivist paradigm, meaning we appreciate and try to study the unique experiences of individuals to better understand how they subjectively experience the world.
Great way to link previous chapter material, especially research paradigm topics, to a concrete definition for/explanation of qualitative research
across our participants.
We might want to tweak the wording a bit here. Reading the sentence "...that reflects the ideas across our participants, I stumbled a bit when I ran into the word "across." Perhaps revise to something like "...reflects the ideas common among our participants" ?
just an observation - we may want to round the estimated reading times to the nearest half-minute. I think there's some potential for confusion among readers interpreting an estimated reading time such as "6.57" - this estimate is so specific that it might not seem at first glance like an estimated reading time. Rounding that number and changing the format - i,e., "6.57" [current] to "7 mins" [suggested] - might help students clearly understand what we are trying to communicate. I do think the estimated reading times are potentially very helpful for readers, though.
Quantitative studies are great when we want to summarize data and examine or test relationships between ideas using numbers and the power of statistics.
This intro stands as a good example of how we can summarize previous chapter material and simultaneously aid reader understanding of the upcoming chapter's topic.
- #wording #thin
- #interesting #useful
- #structure #formatting