1 Read – Chapters, Journal Articles, and Research Blogs: Find top research articles to cite and enrich your reading with your ready-made bibliography of qualitative research from SAGE books, journals, and other credible sources. Use the discussion questions online to practice thinking critically about research.

4.1 Defining a topic

For some quick guidance on how to define your research topic, please visit the SAGE Project Planner – Defining a Topic.

Q. What do you think are the most important factors to consider when deciding on your research topic?

4.2 Question formulation

For brief advice on how to formulate a research question, visit the SAGE Project Planner – Developing a Researchable Question.

Q. Can you address your research questions in the time you have available and with your existing skills and resources? Are you starting with a hypothesis – why or why not?

Q. Which of these words will you use: Why? When? Who? How? Where?

4.3 Grand theory

What is a grand theory? See this SAGE encyclopedia entry for a brief discussion of what it means.

Q. What is the difference between a micro-theory, a mid-range theory and a grand theory?

Q. What are some criticisms of grand theories?

4.4 Qualitative research

How useful is the distinction between qualitative and quantitative methods? This SAGE article – What Good Is Polarizing Research Into Qualitative and Quantitative? – argues that it is best to treat research methods as a continuum from which we select methods depending on our research question.

Q. Do you think it is worth separating qualitative and quantitative methods?

Talking and Thinking About Qualitative Research is an edited transcript of a recent discussion about the nature of qualitative research in which a number of scholars respond to questions about their personal history with qualitative methods. As you will see, the participants take a rather different position to my own. I have included this article for that very reason.

Q. Who do you agree with and why?