Chapter 8: Understanding Methodologies: Quantitative and Qualitative Approaches

A.    Checklist for Experimental Design

   To conduct an experiment, you will need to:

  • Determine dependent and independent variables – You will need to identify the main focus of your study or what you are trying to assess (the dependent variable), as well as the variable(s) you will manipulate in order to cause an effect (the independent variable(s)).
  • Assess change – In order to determine whether the manipulation of your independent variable has affected your dependent variable, you will need to be able to assess change. The most effective way to do this is through pre- and post-testing.
  • Consider research setting – Consider whether you will be conducting your study in a controlled environment such as a laboratory or if you will use a natural setting.
  • Determine number of participants – Think about how many participants will be necessary for you to make any conclusive or statistically significant judgements.
  • Determine number of groups – You will also have to decide if you will use a control group.
  • Develop an assignment strategy – If you are using a control group you will need to determine how you will assign your groups.
  • Decide on number of variables – Will you test just one independent variable or will you test for others as well?
  • Consider ethics – Consider whether you will need informed consent.
  • Control the environment – Consider how you will negotiate the balance between the practicalities of working in real-world situations and the need to control the environment.

B.    Checklist for Achieving Credibility in Qualitative Studies

   Techniques that can be used to ensure thoroughness and rigour include:

  • Saturation – Finishing collecting data only when additional data no longer adds richness to understanding or aids in building theories.
  • Crystallization – Building a rich and diverse understanding of one single situation or phenomenon by seeing the world as multi-faceted, and accepting that what we see depends on where we look, where the light is, etc.
  • Prolonged engagement – Investment of time sufficient to learn the culture, understand context, and/or build trust and rapport.
  • Persistent observation – Looking for readings of a situation beyond an initial, possibly superficial, level.
  • Broad representation – Representation wide enough to ensure that an institution, cultural group, or phenomenon can be spoken about confidently.
  • Peer review – External checking on the research process in which a colleague is asked to act as a ‘devil’s advocate’ with regard to all aspects of methodology.

   Techniques that can be used to obtain confirmation or verification include:

  • Triangulation – Using more than one source of data to confirm the authenticity of each source.
  • Member checking – Checking that interpretation of events, situations and phenomena gels with the interpretations of ‘insiders’.
  • Full explication of method – Providing readers with sufficient methodological detail so that studies are auditable and/or reproducible.