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Research & Qualitative Methods The


There are compelling reasons to apply qualitative methods in the conduct of research. In qualitative research, the issue of replicability is important, and the issue is addressed through the confidence one has in the investigator's interpretation of reality. Thus, it is important that the investigator present a coherent and easily visualized description of reality that is consistent with a detailed study of the situation (Creswell, 2002).

The use of qualitative research methods permits the investigation of phenomena of expert practice in context and from the eyes of the participants. This approach to research is compatible with investigations in disciplines in which activities are focused on analyzing expertise and identifying aspects of practical knowledge, that is, knowledge that emerges from observing and investigating practice (Creswell, 2002).

A customary practice in qualitative research is to combine data analyses with a reassessment of literature to define, refine, and describe complex phenomena. This approach is especially useful in the field of education. Qualitative research, however, is characterized by an inherent limitation. On the one hand, qualitative investigators typically become immersed in the data to carefully examine the research topic. Alternatively, qualitative investigators are an integral part of developing the research design, collecting the data, and analyzing the data. Thus, examiner bias is a concern in the conduct of qualitative research. This bias potential may be addressed by applying precise methods designed to add numerical credibility to the verbal dialogue, noted to be relatively ambiguous. These methods do not assure freedom from examiner bias, but because the data have been precisely collected, analyzed, and presented, the findings of such research are usually trustworthy (Merriam, 2002).

Researchers also may use qualitative inte...

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