[SOLVED] Qualitative Methods Design

Assignment 3 Qualitative Methods Design Exercise Design a project of your choice that uses qualitative methodology to investigate an area of psychology. It is not a requirement to focus specifically on the area of psychology that your course explores, but it may help you to do so. However, you must not use a proposal you have put together for any other assignment on your course – e.g., your project/dissertation (if you are using qualitative methods for that). This assignment needs to be different, although it could complement your dissertation e.g.,for your dissertation you might be investigating parenting styles of mothers with long term health problems or criminal convictions, and for this piece you might design a study to research people’s experience of growing up with a parent with significant health problems or growing up in a family where one parent was in prison. Avoiding topics you are already working on allows you to broaden your research planning skills. If you do choose a topic that is close to your intended project, please take great care not to include material from one in the other. To do this would be to commit an offence under the Academic Integrity policy, which you can view in the University’s Assessment Handbook. Also note that you must not re-use material from assignments you have submitted in earlier modules in this course or in any other course you have studied. You may only choose from the three analytic approaches covered in the PS4700 lectures: Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis, Grounded Theory or Conversation Analysis. This is to ensure you have sufficient background knowledge to be able to complete the assignment without feeling the need to read around the area of qualitative methods to search for an original approach. Whilst you will need to read the methodological literature, we want you to read for depth and detail for section two of this report, rather than broadly and superficially.
What to Include Think of this as two key questions: what would you do in this piece of research (part 1) and why would you do it that way (part 2). Part 1: Project Outline You will need to describe your proposed project in a similar way to that which you would use to write up a research report, but in the form of a proposal. Therefore, you will need to use the future tense (e.g., “participants will be recruited from …”). The project does not need to be carried out; you should not collect any data or recruit any actual participants. In writing your proposal, feel free to use headings and subsections that make sense in terms of how you wish to describe your proposed project. If you are stuck though, you could consider starting with these sub-headings: Aims; Design; Participants; Procedures; Analysis. You must state the project’s aims, list the research questions to be addressed, and give details of the design (this may well look quite different from a quantitative design section and should state the methods used for data collection and analysis in a concise way without describing them).
Details of the participants (e.g., how many, who etc.) and your proposed method for recruiting them should be given. You should also give details of your proposed procedure (this should include an outline of the information you intend to give to participants and a fuller description of how data will be collected). If your proposed project uses any materials, then you can describe these here. You do not need to prepare any materials (e.g., participant information letters or interview schedules); you just need to outline what they will include and tell us how they will be used. You must also have a section, called ‘analysis’ or ‘analytic strategy’, which describes in more detail how you intend to analyse the data. So, in the ‘design’ section, you might simply state that you will use Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (or whatever), while here you will give a little more detail about the actual steps and practical activities that this will involve. It is entirely up to you whether you wish write in the first person (e.g., “I will analyse the data with …”) although our view is that this is far more readable than the passive voice version that avoids the first person (e.g., “the project data will be analysed with …”). You will need to refer to the relevant methodological literature in this section to show that you are aware of best practice etc., but you should avoid long descriptions of qualitative methods if they are not relevant to describing the methodology that you will use. In this section, you are describing WHAT you wish to do. The second section is where you will provide a fuller justification for your project methodology – the WHY.
Part 2: Theoretical and Methodological Rationale.
In the second part, you should move on to providing a justification for the proposed project and its methods (with more emphasis on the latter than the former). This will involve providing a brief justification for the aims/research questions that you will attempt to answer. To do this, you will need to make reference to the relevant literature in your chosen area. However, you are not expected to provide a comprehensive literature review on the topic as we want you to focus more on your methodological rationale; this is a methods assignment after all. In providing a theoretical rationale, refer to no more than three published studies so that we can see that there is some evidence to support your justification for the research questions, but without getting too bogged down in this element. You should then move onto the methodological rationale – and this really is the key element of section two. It is fine for you to do these two parts of the rationale as two sub-sections if that feels more logical for you. If you would prefer to weave them together in a single rationale, then that is OK as well.
Here are a few questions to give you ideas of what we are looking for in the methodological rationale:
• Why should we use these methods to study that aspect of the phenomenon understudy?
• What makes these methods appropriate for your research questions?
• How can we be sure that these methods will give the kind of data you need to answer the kind of research questions you have?
You need to show how the methodology that you propose will answer the research questions and aims that you identified in section one. You must make reference to relevant literature on qualitative methods to do this. It is very important that you present a specific rationale for the methods you use, rather than (or in addition to) a general rationale for the use of qualitative methods. Why interviews, or focus groups, or analysis of media reports, or observation (or whatever other method of data collection) specifically? Why, for example, grounded theory, or IPA specifically? When you do this you need to focus on why the chosen analytic technique is the correct choice, rather than describing other approaches and saying why they are not. Remember: the project you design for this assignment must not be the same as your MSc Dissertation project. How Much to Write The first section should be shorter than the second section. You might aim for around 750 words in the first part and 1500 in the second part. These are only guidelines; however your report should be no longer than 2,250 words, excluding the reference list at the end. Your report can be shorter than 2,250 words, but you must include all the elements noted in the instructions in sufficient detail for your proposal to be clear.
Reading You will need to read around the topic area that you choose to focus your proposed study on; however do not spend too much time on this. Use the library resources, or reading lists from other modules if relevant, to find sources for this. Also, you need to read about the methods that you choose to use. To do well on this assignment, you will need to show more than general understanding of the specific methods you choose to apply (and certainly not just general understanding of qualitative methods). You can use the readings lists from the qualitative lectures on this module to start you off on this. Finally, you will also probably find it useful to read about qualitative research design. Usefulsourcesfor this include: Robson, C. & McCartan, K. (2016) Real World Research Chichester: A Resource for Users of Social Research Methodsin Applied Settings, 4 th Ed. Wiley. [This edition or earlier ones are all suitable – available from the library; the 4 th Ed is available as an e-book. Robson uses the term ‘flexible designs’ when discussing qualitative methods.] Sullivan, C. Gibson, S. and Riley, S. (2012) Doing Your Qualitative Psychology Project London: Sage. [This is aimed primarily at people doing qualitative dissertations but it has chapters on things like, designing research questions and planning a research project, which should help you. In the library and available as an eBook.]
Marking The mark awarded will be in accordance with limited percentage scale marks, as published by the university. The criteria that will be used to mark your coursework are as follows: Criterion What does it mean? Relevance has three main aspects: 1. First, it is about the extent to which your work includes material and ideas that are relevant to the topic. So, this includes how clearly you focus your own writing on the topic that is under discussion and the relevance of the studies and writings of other authors that you cite in your work. In thinking through the relevance you need to think about what it is that the material needs to be relevant to. This means thinking about the main point of any document, section or paragraph you are writing. You will need to think about how relevant the material is to the paragraph it sits in and how relevant it is, more widely, to the essay you are writing or the introduction section of your lab. 2. Relevance is also about the amount of detail you go into when introducing ideas or information in your written work. You need to work out where it is useful and important to go into more detail and when to introduce and discuss things more briefly. If you are critiquing a study that somebody else has done then you might need to go into quite a bit of detail in describing that study so that you can build a very clear, specific and persuasive argument about the strengths and weakness of that study. At other times you might not need to go into much detail in order to make the point that you need to make. This demands that you think about how central the material is to the point you are trying to making or the message you wish to convey to the reader. 3. Relevance is also about the extent to which you draw out the relevance of the material for your argument. You need to make sure that you draw out explicitly the relevance of all the material you include. Don’t leave your reader to work out how something is relevant – tell them! So, for example, if you have cited a study in an essay because you believe it contributes to your overall argument that childhood experiences are related to adult mental health then say so. Don’t just cite the study and then leave your reader to work out how it contributes to your argument. Rather, you might wan tto say something like “this study shows that childhood experiences are sometimes linked to adult mental health”. Quality of Argumentation There are four main aspects of the ‘quality of argumentation’ criterion: 1. First, this is about the use of argumentation in your written work. That is, showing that you can go beyond simply describing things (like theories or other people’s empirical work) and actually constructing your own arguments. This involves you making a decision about your own view and arguing this view with good arguments. One of the biggest challenges in this area is working out the difference between unsubstantiated personal opinion (which the marker will not reward you for) and evidence-based argumentation(which they will reward you for). The key to differentiating between these is the quality of your arguments (more on this below) and whether you have used evidence. Criterion What does it mean? 2. The second aspect of the argumentation criterion relates to the quality of the arguments that you make. Making good quality arguments will help you to avoid falling into the trap of offering up unsubstantiated opinion. One of the most important things about good arguments is that they are supported with appropriate evidence. This is partly about using good and reliable sources of evidence (so, refereed journal articles, reports from reputable sources or appropriate textbooks) and it is also about whether you use this evidence well (so, does the evidence actually support your argument as well as you think it does?). Good arguments also are those that are logical. So, the different bits of your argument need to fit together in a logical fashion. The conclusion that you draw must follow on logically from the premises you present (that is, the building blocks of your argument). 3. Also, this criterion is about the overall coherence of the narrative produced. Good academic arguments are coherent and form a ‘story’ that logically flows towards a consistent conclusion. So, for example, you should try not to contradict yourself in the report. Sometimes the evidence that you will be reviewing when you write is contradictory and you need to find a way of picking up on this and commenting on it while still keeping your own argument free from contradictions. 4. It is really important that you take a position and argue your case as well as you can. Try and remember that your position – the conclusion of your argument – might be something like “we can’t be sure if x is related toy because the evidence is inadequate” but you can still take that position and argue it strongly. Markers want to see that you can make an informed choice about your own position (providing it is one that is logical and can be supported with evidence) and that you can argue it well. It is quite often less about being ‘right’ as about your ability to show that you can construct an argument and defend your position. Your markers will be happy to see you argue something that is different from their own position as long as you do it well and with some confidence. Originality Originality is about the extent to which your work reveals your ability to think and write independently. This is about three main things: 1. First, originality is about the extent to which you show independent thinking by the construction of your own arguments and ideas – although don’t forget that these must be good arguments that are based on appropriate evidence (as discussed above). So, for example, a piece of work in which the author describes a number of studies done by other people and discusses their own ideas about what these studies tell us about the matter in hand would be showing evidence of originality in terms of independent thought. 2. Another way in which you can demonstrate original is by sensibly critiquing the material that you include in your written work – that is, the theories or empirical studies that you are reading and reviewing in your work. Evaluating material, rather than simply describing it, shows that you have the capacity to think for yourself. You need to show that you can see the strengths and weaknesses in the work of others, think about whether it is logical, consider its implications and think about whether evidence from other sources is consistent with it or not (that is, weigh up the work of others in relation to evidence). Criterion What does it mean? 3. Another key aspect of originality is novelty. In this report this might be about the extent to which you introduce originality or novelty with the design of your study. Have others conducted very similar studies to the one you propose? Where is your original slant on it? Or, you might show that you have read widely – reading for yourself, rather than just regurgitating material from your lecture, or perhaps going beyond the reading list given to you. Remember though, that reading books and journal articles that were not recommended by your lecturer is only one way to introduce originality in your work and you have got to be careful that the things you read are still relevant and useful. And your lecturer will have pointed you towards certain key reading for a reason. It is perhaps more important to focus on showing independent thinking and critical analysis (as discussed above) than to seek out large numbers of fairly obscure references. Knowledge and Content Knowledge and Content is about the extent to which the written work shows good knowledge of the relevant topic area. This is about the content that is included and whether it shows a good breadth of knowledge in the relevant area. So, this is about whether you have included information on all relevant areas, or just on some of them. Often this will also be about whether you have included studies or theories that are critical for showing awareness and
understanding of a topic. For example, it would be unusual to write an essay on the social psychology of conformity without making reference to the work of Milgram. Also, this is about the extent to which what is written shows sufficient understanding of the material that is presented. This can be shown by things like summarising the implications of studies that have been reported, writing about how the material applies to some kind of novel or applied situation and critically evaluating material. It is hard to evaluate things and to consider them in detail if you don’t also have good knowledge and understanding so how well you critique things, and the degree of sophistication in your discussion of ideas can highlight the level of your knowledge and understanding. This criterion is also about whether you make factual errors in your written work, or whether there are any signs that you have misunderstood the work of others when you are citing it. Quality of Explanation The Quality of Explanation criterion is about how well you explain things in your written work. So, it is about how thorough your explanations are, how accurate they are, how clear and easy to read and understand they are. In this report this might include how you explain the way you plan to do something, a theory, the empirical work done by somebody else or the premises and conclusion of an argument that you are trying to make. Style ‘Style’ relates o a number of areas: 1. First, style is about the basic quality of your writing. So, this is about how good the spelling and grammar are in your work and includes things like spelling, punctuation, structure, correct word usage etc. If you use an electronic spellchecker, watch out for things that it might not pick up (such as the difference between ‘their’ and ‘there’). Also, this relates to whether your work is structured appropriately – so, in an essay, do you have a proper introduction and conclusion and, in all work, does your argument flow logically and clearly throughout the section or piece of work. Criterion What does it mean? 2. Also, it is about the broader issue of whether you are writing using an appropriate style. This includes the style of language: using technical terms appropriately without using unnecessary jargon; using plain English when necessary and possible; adopting a style of language that is sufficiently formal; and, writing that is economical and easy to understand. It also includes other features of your writing such a stables, referencing and the appropriate use of sections. Are these clear, accurate, neat and appropriately structured, formatted and presented?
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